Starting a Licensed Child Care

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Thank you for your interest in starting a licensed child care center – providing care to Wisconsin’s children is a valuable service to families and the community!

For more information about how the sale/transition of a child care business from one owner to another impacts Wisconsin Shares, visit the Ensuring Continuity web page.

For more information about starting a Certified Child Care Program, contact your local certification agency.

We strongly encourage you to access all resources electronically. However, if you would prefer a printed version of the inquiry packet, please complete and submit the Ordering Information - Child Care Licensing Inquiry Packets document.

Please read through all content below BEFORE you begin the pre-licensing process.

 

Am I eligible to open or start a child care business?

Child Care Background Check Law

The child care background check law, Wis. Stat. 48.686, prohibits licensure when a license applicant, household member, or employee has a conviction or pending charges for certain serious crimes or a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect.

Review the department’s resources for information about crimes and offenses that could impact your ability to obtain a license:

To find out if you or any adult who resides at your proposed child care center has anything in their record that could be a barrier to licensure, you may want to complete background checks in advance for yourself and each adult household resident. Several options for this include:

Delinquent Taxes or Unemployment Insurance Contributions

Wis. Stat. 48.715 (7) requires the department to deny an application for a child care license if the applicant is liable for delinquent taxes or for delinquent unemployment insurance contributions.
If you have been certified delinquent, contact:

 

What type of child care license should I obtain?

Family Child Care - DCF 250

A child care program that provides care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day for at least 4 and not more than 8 children who are not related to the provider.
 

Group Child Care - DCF 251

A child care program that provides care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day for 9 or more children who are not related to the provider.
 

Day Camps for Children - DCF 252

A child care program that provides care and supervision to 4 or more children 3 years of age and older in a seasonal program oriented to the out-of-doors for less than 24 hours a day.

 

If you cannot decide which type would be best for you, please contact your local Child Care Resource & Referral (CCR&R) agency.

 

Once you have determined the type of center that you want to open, carefully read through all inquiry packet materials below related to obtaining this license.

Family Child Care - DCF 250 Inquiry Packet Materials

After you have reviewed the information above and determined you would like to open a family child care center, please review the procedure document below in its entirety BEFORE you begin the pre-licensing process. All necessary forms and publications are linked in this document as well as listed below.

Procedure for Obtaining an Initial License to Operate a Family Child Care Center (DCF-P-PFS4066) English / Spanish

PREPARATION

PHYSICAL PREMISES

BUSINESS MODEL

STAFFING & ADMINISTRATION

PRE-LICENSING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION

Group Child Care - DCF 251 Inquiry Packet Materials

After you have reviewed the information above and determined you would like to open a group child care center, please review the procedure document below in its entirety BEFORE you begin the pre-licensing process. All necessary forms and publications are linked in this document as well as listed below.

Procedure for Obtaining an Initial License to Operate a Group Child Care Center (DCF-P-PFS3066)

PREPARATION

PHYSICAL PREMISES

BUSINESS MODEL

STAFFING & ADMINISTRATION

PRE-LICENSING TECHNICAL ASSISTANCE

SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION

Day Camps for Children - DCF 252 Inquiry Packet Materials

After you have reviewed the information above and determined you would like to open a day camp for children, please review the procedure document below in its entirety BEFORE you begin the pre-licensing process. All necessary forms and publications are linked in this document as well as listed below.

Procedure for Obtaining an Initial License to Operate a Day Camp for Children (DCF-P-PFS4065)

PREPARATION

PHYSICAL PREMISES

BUSINESS MODEL

STAFFING & ADMINISTRATION

SUBMITTING THE APPLICATION

 

Veterans Professional Occupational Licensure Fee Waiver Program

If you are a veteran, you may be eligible to have your initial child care license fee waived. Check out the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs website to see if you qualify.