Blue Alert iconMost Frequently Cited Rule Violations - Licensed Child Care

Wisconsin emphasizes a collaborative partnership with child care providers to help ensure children receive quality care when enrolled in a licensed child care program. The licensing rules were developed to protect the health, safety, and well-being of children in licensed child care settings and to provide a foundation for building a quality child care program.

Licensing specialists make periodic, unannounced visits to each center to monitor for compliance with the licensing rules. When violations of the rules are found, the center is issued a Statement of Non-Compliance (CFS-294) that specifies the exact violation and requires the center to complete a Plan of Correction stating what steps will be taken to correct the violation and prevent re-occurrence of similar violations.

DCF 250.06(2)(c) and DCF 251.06(2)(d) - Access to Materials Potentially Harmful to Children.

These rules require all potentially dangerous items and materials harmful to children, including power tools, flammable or combustible materials, insecticides, matches, drugs, cleaning supplies, bleaches and other hazardous, toxic or poisonous articles, must be properly labeled and stored in areas inaccessible to children.

Compliance Tip:

Doing a daily sweep of areas (including kitchens, bathrooms, cupboards, and countertops) to check for items that could cause harm is one way to ensure there are no potentially harmful materials accessible to children. Having designated areas for storing these types of materials and making sure that when a potentially harmful item is used it is returned to the proper storage area can also be helpful in protecting the children in care.

DCF 250.05(2)(b) and DCF 251.05(1)(a)2 - Background Checks.

These rules require that licensees ensure that child care background checks are completed in compliance with the timelines and requirements specified in s. 48.686, Stats, and ch. DCF 13, and that persons required to have a background check are eligible to work in a child care program.

Compliance Tip:

Caregivers and noncaregiver employees must have preliminary eligibility prior to working with children at the center. Requiring potential staff to complete the background check requirements through iChildCare is one way to ensure they have met the requirements prior to hire. When the center receives quarterly notices regarding employees listed in the provider portal who are due for a background check, log in to the portal to review the list of employees and make any necessary changes.

DCF 250.06(2)(L)1 and 2 – Carbon Monoxide Detectors.

These rules require family child care centers in a one-family or two-family residence must have a functional carbon monoxide detector installed in the basement and on each floor level, except the attic, garage, or storage area of each unit, in accordance with the requirements of s. 101.647, Stats.

Compliance Tip:

Create a system or set a reminder to test carbon monoxide detectors early in the month at the same time smoke detectors are checked. The Safety and Emergency Response Documentation form may be used to document testing.

DCF 250.055(1)(L) and DCF 251.055(1)(f) - Child Tracking Procedure.

These rules require the licensee or center to implement and adhere to a procedure to ensure that the number, names, and whereabouts of children in care are known to the provider or child care workers at all times.

Compliance Tip:

Knowing where each child in your care is at all times can be tricky whether in a home setting or a group setting.

Losing track of a child can happen in a family child care program when the provider is in the kitchen preparing a meal and the children are playing in another area of the home, or it can happen in a group setting when a child leaves a classroom to go outside or the group moves to a new location. There are many methods a program could use to track a child’s whereabouts during the day. For example, frequently comparing the number of children present to the number of children signed in at that time might work in a family setting, while having a list of children present and adding or crossing names off the list might work better in a group setting. Whatever tracking method you use, remember that you must know both the number of children and the names of all children present at any given time.

DCF 250.055(1)(a) and DCF 251.055(1)(a) - Close supervision of each child.

These rules require that children are supervised to guide behavior and activities, prevent harm, and ensure safety.

Compliance Tip:

Sometimes, room arrangement can impact a provider’s ability to guide behavior and ensure safety. Outside play areas may present a particular challenge because there is usually more open space for children to move around quickly, which may make it more difficult to monitor what each child is doing. It’s important to carefully consider the possible barriers presented by furniture and equipment when setting up the indoor and outdoor spaces, paying particular attention to the ability of the provider to easily scan all areas and respond quickly if necessary. Clearly identifying active and quiet areas can help children easily identify which areas may be safer to play in depending on the chosen activity. Placing yourself in the room or area being used so that you can see all of the children simultaneously and planning ahead for some of the more predictable situations that occur throughout a typical day can reduce the possibility of supervision challenges. For example, toileting and diapering could be done either before or after outside time, and a portable phone or answering machine can allow the provider to maintain supervision of the children while also attending to business needs.

DCF 250.06(2)(m) and DCF 251.06(2)(gm) - Condition of the Premises.

These rules require the premises to be well drained, free from litter, clean and in good repair and maintained to prevent the entrance or harborage of vermin.

Compliance Tip:

Scheduling frequent checks for issues related to the condition and maintenance of the building or grounds and having a plan that ensures timely restoration of issues identified will help keep this type of issue from becoming more extensive and expensive to address. For example, checking window screens for holes and repairing them immediately can keep them from getting bigger which would lead to the possibility of allowing vermin in, and will help avoid full replacement of the entire screen.

Likewise, a regular cleaning schedule and frequent checks to common high-traffic areas such as entryways, sidewalks, porches, and classroom areas for issues that may lead to harmful conditions, and correcting before they become dangerous, will keep the children in your care safe and avoid violations of the rule.

DCF 250.04(6)(b) and DCF 251.04(6)(b) - Current Accurate Daily Attendance.

These rules require programs to track when a child arrives or leaves the program and includes the exact time of arrival or departure.

Compliance Tip:

In order to know who is in your care at any given moment, a system for documenting a child’s arrival and departure time is necessary. Different methods may work for various settings, however having a staff member greet each child at arrival and sign them into care is a good way to build relationships with parents and welcome the child to show them you are happy that s/he is there. Likewise, connecting at the end of the day to wish each family a pleasant evening and signing the child out of care can help keep your attendance records accurate. We recommend keeping the attendance form nearby during the busy arrival and departure times so that you don’t have to look for it when a child leaves for the day.

DCF 250.06(3)(b) and DCF 251.06(4)(j) - Emergency Planning and Drills.

These rules require regular drills be conducted that include children and staff.

Compliance Tip:

No one wants to believe that a fire or other emergency will occur at their facility, but planning ahead and conducting emergency drills regularly will help children and staff respond appropriately should an emergency occur. The more prepared a program is, the better-equipped that program will be to take all necessary steps to keep everyone safe.

The emergency plan required for all child care centers should address situations such as evacuation for a fire, plans for an electrical outage or loss of heat or water, and plans for a lost or missing child. Each part of the plan should carefully consider all possible needs during an emergency. For example, if there is a need to evacuate the building, where will you go, and how will you get there? What needs to be taken with and who is responsible for preparing and grabbing those items? How will you contact parents? What advance preparations need to be made for non-mobile children or children with special needs?

It’s best to choose a consistent date to run emergency drills, such as the first or last day of the month, but vary the times the plan is practiced so that all staff and children are involved. Emergency drills help children become familiar with the response plan just in case you need to implement it so that they know what to do and how to respond as calmly and effectively as possible.

DCF 250.06(2)(k) and DCF 251.06(2)(i) - Flaking or Deteriorating Paint.

These rules bring attention to flaking or deteriorating paint which can indicate a more serious issue related to water seepage or general maintenance of the building. Buildings built before 1978 may have additional issues related the possibility of lead-based paint on the walls, windows, and/or trim.

Compliance Tip:

Noticing and repainting areas quickly when paint appears to be flaking or deteriorating can keep a center looking clean and well-maintained. Timely attention to paint issues can help to prevent larger, more expensive projects in the future. We recommend keeping leftover paint after painting a room, labeling it with the date and the color, and storing the partially filled paint cans in a space inaccessible to children, but available for touch-ups.

DCF 250.06(2)(e) and DCF 251.06(2)(a) - Hazards.

These rules require attention to situations that can present a hazard to children, including making sure that the center’s indoor and outdoor child care space is free of hazards, including recalled products.

Compliance Tip:

Being aware of conditions in and around the center is the best way to identify possible hazardous situations and taking steps to mitigate those hazards. Subscribing to the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection’s Keep Kids Safe Newsletter is a good way to stay up-to-date with recalled products, and scheduling frequent checks for possible hazardous situations in both indoor and outdoor environments and having a plan to correct these hazards in a timely manner will keep children safe, prevent injuries, and avoid violations of the rule.

DCF 250.09(1)(c)1. and DCF 251.09(1)(c) - Infant and Toddler - Documenting Changes in Development.

Group child care workers shall document changes in a child's development and routines every three months based on discussion with the parent. Family Child Care providers and the child's parents shall periodically discuss the child's development and routines.

Compliance Tip:

Use the department-provided form (Intake for Child Under 2 Years) and create a system or set a reminder to discuss and document changes in development. Consider documenting changes more frequently than every three months.

DCF 250.06(4)(a) and DCF 251.06(4)(j) - Smoke Detectors.

Fire detection and prevention systems, including smoke detectors, heat or flame detectors, pull stations, and sprinkler systems shall be maintained in good working order and tested monthly. A record must be kept of the time, date and results of the test

Compliance Tip:

Create a system or set a reminder to test smoke detectors early in month. The Safety and Emergency Response Documentation form may be used to document compliance.

DCF 250.05(2) and 250.04(6) & DCF 251.05(1) and 251.04(6) - Staff and Child Records.

These rules require records for staff and children be reviewed and updated regularly.

Compliance Tip:

Keeping child and staff records up to date can feel like a never-ending and sometimes overwhelming process. However, having a records-maintenance system in place will help to ensure you are able to contact parents when necessary, determine which staff members may be due for an annual child care background check, and will help with the overall daily management of the program.

Some centers use computers to help with this task and there are many computer programs written specifically for child care center business management. For those centers that lack access to computers or choose to use a manual system to track documents, a simple system could include the use of checklists that must be completed before a staff or child record is filed.

The Bureau of Early Care Regulation has developed optional forms such as the Staff Record Checklist - Group Child Care Centers (DCF-F-CFS1675A) and the Child Record Checklist - Child Care Centers (DCF-F-CFS1675) that could be used as a tool to ensure that all required items are in each staff or child’s file. The Bureau has also developed forms (some required by rule, others that are optional) to help providers meet the requirements of licensing rules when, they are collecting, organizing and maintaining important information about children families and staff. All forms can be found on the Department of Children and Families website.

DCF 250.05(2) and DCF 251.05(2) - Staff Training.

These rules address minimum training requirements for staff such as having a current CPR and AED certificate, maintaining the required amount of continuing education hours, and other required training, such as child abuse and neglect identification and reporting procedures, SIDS risk reduction, and SBS/AHT prevention.

Compliance Tip:

Having good record-keeping systems in place that can trigger a reminder for training due will go a long way in preventing violations of these rules. Using an electronic calendar can help prompt the center to remember when training is due. Taking advantage of online training opportunities can be a great way to keep continuing education current.

DCF 250.08(8) and DCF 251.08(8) – Vehicle Safety Alarms.

These rules require licensees to meet the vehicle safety alarm requirements when transporting children.