cartoon image of child playing with blocksFile a Child Care Complaint

Complaints regarding licensed child care programs and license exempt public school 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.

Regulatory agencies receive complaints over the telephone, via e-mail, or in writing. Please note that although complaints may be reported anonymously, if you email a complaint or submit a complaint in writing and provide your name, 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.

Although regulatory agencies conduct monitoring visits of child care programs and these programs agree to comply with licensing or certification requirements, parents and guardians visit the programs daily and sometimes notice potential areas of concern. Reporting these concerns alerts the regulatory agency to possible problems in the center that may not be apparent during routine monitoring visits. If you are having a problem with a center or you think that a child care program may be in violation of licensing or certification standards, we encourage you to report your concern to the regulatory agency.

After a Complaint is Filed

  • Every complaint alleging a violation of a licensing or certification requirement is investigated, unless the reported situation is not covered by licensing or certification regulation (such as a dispute regarding payment or tuition issues). Some examples of issues that might be reported include children not being fed nutritious meals, lack of supervision, or the program seems to be exceeding child to staff ratios.
  • The regulatory agency may also investigate allegations that an unregulated program is caring for 4 or more children under age 7 who are not related to the child care provider.
  • When reporting a complaint, give as much information and detail as possible. Provide 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. This will help the investigator gather information in order to determine whether a rule violation occurred.
  • The regulatory agency’s investigation may include an unannounced visit to the program to observe conditions, interviews with the licensee, certified operator and 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 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 discovered during the complaint investigation are identified on a Noncompliance Statement and Correction Plan.
  • The complainant may request the complaint investigation findings report and these findings may be 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.