Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

investigation-imageFile a Child Care Complaint

Complaints regarding licensed child care programs should be reported to the Bureau of Early Care Regulation Regional Licensing Office.

Please note: If you email a complaint, we cannot guarantee that your identity will remain anonymous. Under Wisconsin's Open Records Law, Wisconsin Statute 19.35, et. al, personal identifying information can only be withheld under limited circumstances. If you wish to assure your anonymity, you may call the regional office to make a complaint without revealing your identity.

Selecting a child care center is one of the most important decisions a parent/guardian will make.  When selecting a program, parents/guardians are encouraged to visit the center, observe the activities and child/staff interactions, review the center’s policies, including child guidance, and look for safe and clean environments and materials. After enrollment parents/guardians should continue to reassess their child care arrangement.  Here are some suggestions for parents/guardians as they continue to evaluate their child care program on a regular basis:

Ask/Consider

  • What did my child do today?
  • How did my child interact with the caregiver?
  • Is the outside play area safe and free from hazards?
  • Listen carefully to what your child has to say about their day.

Do

  • Spend a few minutes each day talking with the caregiver about your child.
  • Drop in frequently and participate in activities.
  • Observe behavior during drop-off and pick-up.
  • Review monitoring results by the regulatory agency. 

Although the regulatory agency conducts monitoring visits and the program agrees to comply with regulatory standards, parents and guardians are in the program daily and should remain alert for potential concerns. Complaints from parents/guardians or other community members alert regulatory staff of possible problems in the center that may not be apparent during routine monitoring visits. If you are having a problem with a center or believe a center may be in violation of licensing or certification standards you are encouraged to contact the regulatory agency.

If a parent, guardian or other concerned citizen thinks a child care program is not meeting regulatory requirements, a complaint can be made to the regulatory agency. Examples of issues that might be reported include:

  • Children not being fed nutritious meals
  • Program exceeding child to staff ratios
  • Lack of supervision
  • An unregulated program caring for more than 3 children under age 7 who are not related to the child care provider.

Complaints may be reported over the telephone, via e-mail or in writing to the regulatory agency that serves the center. Although complaints may be reported anonymously, if an individual emails a complaint or submits a complaint in writing and provides their name, the regulatory agency cannot guarantee that the identity of the reporter will remain anonymous. Under Wisconsin's Open Records Law, Wis. Stat. S19.35, et. al, personal identifying information can only be withheld under limited circumstances. If you wish to assure your anonymity, you may call the regulatory agency to make a complaint without revealing your identity.

Every complaint alleging a violation of a licensing/certification standards is investigated. Some situations (such as payment or tuition disputes) are not covered by regulation and may not require a complaint investigation.

When reporting a complaint, give as much information and detail as possible. Providing specific dates and time, the exact location (room or area of the center) of the suspected violation, and names of people involved or other potential witnesses will help the investigator gather information in order to determine whether a rule violation occurred.

The investigation may include an unannounced visit to the program to observe conditions, interviews with the licensee/certified operator/current or former staff members and, if appropriate, a check of center records.

After the investigation is completed, the regulatory staff will determine whether the complaint allegation(s) is substantiated (it was determined with reasonable certainty that a rule violation occurred) or unsubstantiated (it was determined with reasonable certainty that no rule violation occurred). Any violations noted are listed on a Statement of Non-Compliance and Correction Plan. Depending on the severity of the violations, other enforcement actions could be initiated. The regulatory staff will prepare a report of the investigation and subsequent findings. The licensee/certified operator is notified of the investigative finding and the complainant may request to receive the findings as well. The report is then placed in the regulatory agency’s center file and shared with others who may inquire about a center's complaint and compliance history. Violations are also posted on the Child Care Public Search website for child care consumers to review prior to selecting a program or in their continual evaluation of a program.

  • Complaints regarding licensed child care programs should be reported to the Bureau of Early Care Regulation Regional Licensing Office.

  • Complaints regarding certified child care programs should be reported to the certification agency.