Wisconsin Child Care Certification

Children reading aloud.

DCF 202 establishes standards for the certification of persons who provide child care for 1 to 3 children under age 7 unrelated to the provider, or who are not otherwise required to be licensed as a child care center under s. 48.65, Stats. DCF contracts certification functions to local counties and tribes. DCF Bureau of Early Care Regulation (BECR) administers certification in Milwaukee County.

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Starting a Certified Family Child Care Business

Thank you for your interest in starting a certified family child care business. Providing child care to Wisconsin’s children is a valuable service to families and the community!

Benefits of Child Care Certification


Allowable Number of Children in Certified Family Child Care

Computer-based training for compliance with Licensing Law and DCF 202:

Maximum Number of Children in Care Training Videos

Read about additional training requirements.

The table below explains the maximum group size rules. (Printable Numbers Chart)

Maximum Children in Certified Child Care
Related or Provider's
Own Children Under
7 Years of Age

Non-related Children
Under 7 Years of Age

Additional Children
Ages 7 and Older
Maximum Number
of Children*
 0 3 Includes non-related
children age 7+ and
related, non-residential
children age 7+ 
1 3 6
2 3 6
3 3 6
4 2 6
5 1 6
6 0 6


When Children Under the Age of 2 Years are Present
Number of Children
Under 2 Years of Age
Maximum Number
of Children*
 0 6
1 6
2 6
3 5
4 4

*The maximum number does not include the certified child care operator’s natural, adopted, step or foster children 7 years of age and older or any children age 7 and older who live in the residence.

The Group Size Estimator is a tool that will help the user understand when a certified provider’s day care schedule may be in violation of the State of Wisconsin child care certification rules.

DCF 202.02(12m) “Operator’s own children” means a certified family child care operator’s natural, adopted, step, and foster children, and any children who reside in the operator’s home.

The state law, s. 48.65 (1), Stats., states: If a child care provider cares for 4 or more children under the age of 7 who are not related to the provider, for compensation, the provider must obtain from the Department of Children and Families, Bureau of Early Care and Regulation a license to operate a child care center. This means that if a certification applicant is caring for 4 or more unrelated children under age 7, the agency does not have the authority to approve the application for certification because s/he is violating the licensing law.  The applicant must comply with certification standards DCF 202 before certification may be granted.