Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities




Department of Children and Families’ public benefit programs will continue during the partial federal government shutdown. Read the full announcement here.

Certification Background Check Requirements

Read the Certification background check requirements for Wisconsin child care providers.

Printable Certification Background Check FAQ.


Who is required to have a background check?

Under Wis. Stats. §48.686 applicants, operators, adult household members, caregivers, noncaregiver employees and contractors are subject to background check requirements. Household member means a person who is age 10 or older, who resides, or is expected to reside, at a child care program, and who is not a client of the child care program or caregiver. Minor household members age 10-17 are subject to child abuse and neglect checks only but may, in some instances, be subject to a criminal background check.

Caregiver means any of the following:

  1. A person who is an employee or contractor of a child care program and involved in the care or supervision of children in care.
  2. A person who has direct contact and unsupervised access to children in care of a child care program.
  3. A person who has, or is seeking, a license, certification, or contract to operate a child care program.

Non-caregiver employees working in child care settings are subject to background check requirements, regardless of whether or not the individual provides care or supervision of children. Noncaregiver employees are individuals who provide services to a child care program as an employee or as a contractor, are not caregivers, but whose work at the child care program provides the ability to move freely throughout the premises and opportunities for interactions with children in care.

Type and Frequency of Background Checks

The frequency of the checks listed below depends on the individual’s role at the child care center. Adults in certified child care settings are subject to the following:

  • Fingerprint-based Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) search, including a search of the National Crime Information Center’s (NCIC) sex offender registry (SOR), Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) criminal history database, and Department of Health Services (DHS) Integrated Background Information System; initially and every 5 years
  • Wisconsin Child Abuse and Neglect (CAN) registry; initially
  • Name and address search of the Wisconsin SOR; initially
  • A name-based search of the following in each state in which the individual has resided in the past five years: state criminal repository, state SOR, state CAN registry; initially. Operators, adult household members, caregiver employees and caregiver volunteers are subject to an additional DOJ criminal history search, annually, after the initial fingerprint-based check. Non-caregiver employees are not subject to the annual background check.
  • Annual fingerprint-based FBI check if the individual continues to reside out of state (Example: caregiver employee who resides in Illinois but works for an operator located in Kenosha County

The Certification Roles Background Check Table is not an exhaustive list of roles in certified child care but is meant to provide examples and additional clarification regarding who is subject to the initial and 5-year FBI check and the annual DOJ background check.

Background Check Fees

At the time the Fieldprint fingerprint scan appointment is made online, the individual will pay $39 via credit card or electronic check. This covers the cost of the Fieldprint fingerprint capture fee ($7.75) and the cost of the FBI and DOJ fingerprint-based background check ($31.25). After the initial fingerprint-based background checks are completed, the operator will be invoiced by DCF for any annual background checks conducted. The cost of a name-based DOJ check is currently $10.

Who Conducts the Background Checks?

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) Caregiver Background Check Unit (CBU):

  • Conducts background checks required for child care certification
  • Reviews the background check results to determine if an individual is eligible to be certified, reside in, or work in a certified child care program
  • Provides eligibility determination notices to individuals and applicants/operators
  • Responds to appeals pertaining to background check eligibility determinations

Submitting a Background Check Request

Background Check Request (BCR) form (DCF-F-5296) Hmong / Spanish replaces the previous Background Information Disclosure form. The BCR is required for individuals age 10+. The BCR is required to be completed and submitted initially and reviewed every 5 years thereafter. Information gathered on the BCR is used to determine what kinds of background checks are needed.

New Applications

Applicants for certification submit Background Check Request (BCR) form(s) (Hmong / Spanish) to the certification agency with their initial application materials. Once the certification worker enters information collected on the BCR form into the Wisconsin Child Care Regulatory System (WISCCRS), system-generated Fingerprint Instruction letters are automatically mailed to the applicant for each individual age 18+. The instruction letters provide detailed instructions and unique codes needed for scheduling a Fieldprint fingerprint-based background check. Individuals age 18+ complete a Fieldprint fingerprint scan appointment and the results are automatically sent to the department for review.

Existing Certified Operators

After initial certification is granted, certified operators are strongly encouraged to use the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP) when submitting information required for initial background checks for new individuals, rather than submitting paper BCR forms to the certification agency. Using the CCPP to submit the Background Check Request will trigger a system-generated fingerprint instruction letter that will be mailed to the operator for individuals age 18+. The instruction letter provides detailed instructions and unique codes needed for scheduling a Fieldprint fingerprint-based background check. Individuals age 18+ complete a Fieldprint fingerprint scan appointment and the results are automatically send to the department for review.

Scheduling a Fieldprint Scan Appointment

Read the instructions regarding how to schedule a Fieldprint scan appointment.

Using the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP)

Once a provider has been granted certification, it is strongly recommended they use the Child Care Provider Portal to submit Background Check Requests. Using the CCPP to submit a background check request or to update an existing individual’s record streamlines the background check process for operators, subjects of the search, certification workers and the department’s background check unit. Operators who do not yet have CCPP access may request access by following the instructions located on the Gaining Access to the Child Care Provider Portal page.

Eligibility Determinations

The barred offenses table identifies offenses that bar certification or bar an individual from residing/working in certified child care programs. The department’s background check unit will review the background check results and make background check eligibility determinations, including any determinations based on barred offenses and potentially substantially related determinations.

Preliminary and final determinations are made and issued in writing by DCF and mailed to the applicant/operator and subject of the search. The notices are also viewable to operators in the Child Care Provider Portal (CCPP). The preliminary eligibility determination is based on a review of the criminal history for convictions that would bar a person from working or residing in a certified program. An applicant for certification may not be granted certification until all of the background checks are completed and a final eligibility determination has been made. A household member or employee who receives preliminary eligibility approval may begin to reside or work under the supervision of a person who has had an approved DCF fingerprint-based background check within the last five years.

An individual who is the subject of the department's background check determination may appeal the department's final eligibility determination. Only the person who is the subject of the department's determination may appeal the department's decision.

Rehabilitation Reviews

Any person who has committed an offense requiring an action of “bar unless rehabilitation review approval,” or “bar for 5 years,” is barred from regulatory approval or working or residing in a certified program until that person has received approval through the rehabilitation review process. DCF is responsible for conducting rehabilitation reviews for child care certification. Tribes may choose to conduct rehabilitation reviews or refer the subject to DCF for the review. Tribes choosing to conduct rehabilitation reviews shall submit and have approved by the department a rehabilitation review plan.


Resources and Links


DCF Caregiver Background Check Unit

The CBU processes all background checks for Licensed and Certified Child Care programs in Wisconsin.
Mailing address:
DCF Caregiver Background Unit
PO Box 8916
201 E Washington Ave, Room E200
Madison, WI  53708-8916
Phone number: 608-422-7400
Fax number: 608-422-7155
Email address: DCFPlicBECRCBU@wisconsin.gov