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Mother and Child

"Making a decision about who would provide care to my son was a difficult one for me. Knowing that my child is in high quality care gives me a sense of security and has also helped me create a partnership that really benefits my son."

- parent in Madison, WI

YoungStar Program Information For Parents

Quality early care makes a big difference in your little one's life, and in yours. While you're at work, you want to know your child is safe and secure, and gaining the knowledge and social skills that set the stage for a successful tomorrow. A quality child care program gets your child off to a promising start in life, while providing you with priceless peace of mind.


YoungStar Star Level Explanations

YoungStar Tiered Reimbursement

The goal of YoungStar is to improve the quality of child care and reward high-quality providers by:

  • Establishing a 5 Star quality rating system for all child care providers.
  • Paying Wisconsin Shares quality bonuses to 4 Star and 5 Star child care providers.

As of July 1, 2012, all providers who accept Wisconsin Shares subsidy payments are required to participate in YoungStar.  You can see if your provider is participating by clicking on the "Search for YoungStar Child Care" button above.

Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement levels are based on the child care provider's star rating in the following manner:

5 Star Provider - Meets highest levels of quality standards. Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement is increased by 25%.

4 Star Provider - Meets elevated levels of quality standards. Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement is increased by 10%.

3 Star Provider - Meets proficient levels of quality standards. Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement remains the same.

2 Star Provider - Meets health and safety standards. Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement is reduced by 5%.

1 Star Provider - Not eligible for Wisconsin Shares subsidy reimbursement. These providers' child care licenses or certifications have been revoked, denied, or suspended, or their Wisconsin Shares payments have been ended due to fraud or suspected fraud.

Note: Any increase in Wisconsin Shares reimbursement rates due to YoungStar rating is applied after the parent co-payment is taken out of the Wisconsin Shares payment.

Documents have been created to help parents and providers understand Tiered Reimbursement:

Look to the Stars

Now, in addition to talking to other parents and consulting with child care resource and referral programs, you can "look for the stars" when selecting a child care provider. For the first time, parents are able to compare the quality of care their children will receive using an established, measurable standard.

YoungStar is a program of the Department of Children and Families created to improve the quality of child care for Wisconsin children. YoungStar evaluates the quality of care given by regulated child care providers and rates them from 1 Star to 5 Stars, with 5 Stars being the highest rating. A provider's star rating is based on:

  • Education Qualifications and Training
  • Learning Environment and Curriculum
  • Professional and Business Practices
  • Child Health and Well-Being Practices

Printable copy of the YoungStar brochure for parents

Searching for Child Care

To find a child care provider, simply search the Department of Children & Families Child Care Search. You can choose to review only YoungStar providers or to search all regulated providers, which includes both those in YoungStar and those that are not.

To help parents understand the star rating that providers receive, YoungStar has created a brief overview of the star rating system called Reading the Stars. It is available at the link below:

Reading the Stars: Understanding the 5-Star Quality Rating and Improvement System

When you review the search results, you may see that some providers are "Not Yet Rated." This only means that they have not yet received their YoungStar rating and should not be considered a reflection of the quality of care they provide.

Every month, several hundred providers are rated and those ratings will be added to the listing. Please check back often, because the YoungStar pages will become more useful to you each month.

For more indepth information about YoungStar, visit our YoungStar Details webpage.

In Wisconsin, low-income working parents can apply to receive assistance paying for child care through the Wisconsin Shares program. Visit our YoungStar and Wisconsin Shares webpage for more details on this program.


Accreditation is a voluntary process designed to improve the quality of early and school-age care programs. Research shows that accreditation positively impacts the quality of early and school-age care programs. Achieving accreditation involves extensive self-study and validation by professionals outside the program to verify that quality standards are met. Accreditation status is one more piece of information parents can consider when choosing child care.

More information about child care accreditation.

Resources for Parents

The information below is provided as a resource to parents about the growth and development of their children.

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.