Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

Public Schools Offering Child Care Services Children playing on jungle gym equipment.

Who Wish to be Eligible to Receive Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Payments

Beginning in fall 2016, all child care programs operated or contracted by a public school that wish to be eligible to receive Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy payments on behalf of an eligible family or that will participate in Wisconsin’s quality improvement system (YoungStar) must be monitored annually for compliance with a subset of the Administrative Code DCF 251 Licensing Rules for Group Child Care Centers.

School Board powers under s. 120.13 (14), Wis. Stats., states in pertinent part that school boards may:
(14) Child care programs. Establish and provide or contract for the provision of child care programs for children. . . Child care programs established under this subsection shall meet the standards for licensed child care centers [DCF 251 Licensing Rules for Group Child Care Centers] established by the department of children and families. . . .

In November 2014, the federal Child Care and Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Act of 2014 was signed into law after receiving bipartisan and bicameral support in Congress. The Act fully authorizes the child care program for the first time since 1996, and represents an historic re-envisioning of the Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) program. The new law makes significant advancements by defining health and safety requirements for child care providers; outlining family-friendly eligibility policies; and ensuring that parents and the general public have transparent information about the child care choices available to them.

As the lead agency, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) has reviewed new requirements within the CCDBG Act of 2014 in order to fully understand its impact on the state. The Act has implications for affecting license-exempt programs operated by public schools who are participating in YoungStar or who wish to be eligible for receive child care subsidy payments from Wisconsin Shares. The Act requires DCF to monitor license exempt programs annually for compliance with a subset of the licensing rules.

Applying to be Monitored

Public Schools wanting to participate in the YoungStar Quality Rating and Improvement System or wishing to be eligible for Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy program must complete the following steps before an authorization for Wisconsin Shares can be completed:

  1. Complete the Information Required to Monitor School-Operated License Exempt Child Care Programs form DCF- F- 5155-E. You may search for this form on the forms page. The completed form should be sent to the appropriate Regional Licensing office.
  2. Complete the YoungStar contract form and return it to the appropriate YoungStar office.

The regional licensing office will enter the information provided into the DCF child care licensing data system and will forward this information to the YoungStar program. Once the YoungStar contract is returned to the appropriate YoungStar office, FIS, the agency administering the child care payment program will send the program a contract to receive the child care subsidy payments.  At this time, an authorization for child care subsidy payments can be made.

The administrative code DCF 251 Licensing Rules for Group Child Care Centers is available on the department’s website for printing or you may purchase a copy for $25. Information on how to purchase a rule book is available.  A copy of the subset of the licensing rules in checklist format that public school operated programs will be monitored against is also available.

After the Information Required to Monitor School-Operated License Exempt Child Care Programs is submitted to the regional licensing office, the program will be contacted by a licensing specialist to set up an announced visit to review the rules included on the Health and Safety Checklist – License Exempt Programs. This initial visit will give the program the opportunity to meet the assigned licensing specialist and receive information about the licensing rules and the monitoring process.

 

Monitoring for Health and Safety Standards

The CCDBG Act of 2014 requires an annual monitoring visit. The initial visit will happen sometime in the year following receipt of the Information Required to Monitor School-Operated License Exempt Child Care Programs. Visits will be scheduled for a time that is convenient for the school operated program and the licensing specialist. Subsequent visits may be unannounced. The results of monitoring visits will be posted on the department’s public child care finder search web page. Failure to comply with the requirements in the Health and Safety Checklist – License Exempt Programs may result in losing the ability to care for children who receive a child care subsidy.

DCF will investigate complaints received that appear to be related to one or more of the rules included on the Health and Safety Checklist – License Exempt Programs. License exempt programs are expected to report to DCF all of the following:

  • Any incidents or accidents that occur while a child is in care and result in professional medical evaluation;
  • Any death of a child in care;
  • Any known convictions, pending charges or other offenses of a child care center employee which could potentially relate to the care of children at the center or the activities of the center;
  • Any suspected abuse or neglect of a child by an employee that was reported to Child Protective Services or law enforcement;
  • Any inappropriate discipline of a child in care by an employee or volunteer;
  • Any incident involving law enforcement that involves an employee of the center that causes or threatens to cause physical or serious emotions harm to an individual including a child in the care of the center.

School districts are expected to conduct a child care caregiver background check that meets the requirements specified in s. 48.685 Stats annually. Child care providers are also subject to the one-time only fingerprint check requirements as a condition of receiving Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy payments. Information on the Child Care Background Checks process is available.  In addition, staff in license exempt child care programs are expected to meet the training requirements for child care center staff found in DCF 251

If you have questions, feel free to contact the Child Care Program Specialist with the Bureau of Early Care Regulation. (DCFPublicSchools@wisconsin.gov).