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Inclusive Birth to 3 Child Care Pilot – For Parents

The Inclusive Birth to 3 Child Care Pilot is a new DCF pilot program. It supports the cost of child care for a limited number of children participating in the Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Birth to 3 Program. This initiative is funded by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). The funding is time-limited and runs from August 2022 through June 2024.

Families participating in this program may receive up to 12 months of financial support towards the cost of care at their child care provider. Funds will be paid to the child care provider by DCF.

Authorizations will be issued in Crawford, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, and Rock counties beginning in August 2022. On October 1, 2022, the program will expand statewide. Each child may receive an authorization for up to 12 months. No new children will be authorized after June 30, 2023.

This program is not part of the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program and has different qualification requirements.

The below frequently asked questions and answers provide more information to parents regarding this program. For additional information see:

Enrollment Process

In order to be eligible for this pilot program, your child will need to be enrolled in DHS’ Birth to 3 Program and have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) on file. If your child meets the program requirements, the following steps will need to be completed:

  1. You will receive a letter from the Birth to 3 Program indicating your child is potentially eligible for the pilot program.
  2. If interested in participating, you will need to return the release of information form that came with the letter. 
  3. The Birth to 3 Program will make a referral to the local child care subsidy agency.
  4. The local child care subsidy agency will contact you, at which time you will need to provide:
    1. Your child’s Social Security number
    2. Confirmation that your child is a citizen or qualified immigrant
  5. You must select a regulated child care provider. If you do not currently have one, you may contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral agency (CCR&R) for help.
    1. You will also need to complete the provider’s registration process and complete any paperwork required by the provider.
      You will need to ask about the provider’s tuition and fees to help you understand any out-of-pocket costs you may have.
  6. Your child will receive an authorization if the above steps have been completed.
  7. Child care providers will receive payment via an ACH deposit at the beginning of each month.

Note: Due to limited funding, you may be placed on a waitlist.

Additional Resources and FAQs

Finding Care

As a parent looking for a potential child care provider, it is important that you feel comfortable with the individual(s) that may care for your child. One way to do this is to begin a conversation. The following questions can help get the conversation started:   

  • What would you like to know about my child?   
  • What questions do you have about caring for my child and helping my child grow and develop?  
  • My child is still learning how to (insert a skill you are working on with your child). How would you support them in learning this skill?  
  • How would you like me to share information about other services my child receives?  
  • How would you respond if my child displays a behavior that you or your staff find challenging?  
  • In order to provide the best care for my child, what kind of information or supports would help you the most? 

Visit the Child Care Finder page to search for a child care program that is right for you. 

Frequently Asked Questions for Parents

Which child care providers accept funds from this program?  

You may select any regulated provider that has or is willing to complete an FIS contract. Local Child Care Resource and Referral agencies (CCR&Rs) can help you locate a provider or you can use the Child Care Finder. The provider does not need to be participating in YoungStar for this pilot program.

Will the funds pay for all child care provider costs or will I still have additional out-of-pocket expenses?

You may still incur out-of-pocket expenses. You are responsible for talking with the child care provider regarding your child’s account. These costs could be any expense that the provider charges that is not covered by the subsidy amount, including but not limited to, diaper fees, field trip fees, registration fees, and the monthly tuition.

How will the subsidy funds be determined/calculated?

The subsidy funds amount is based on many factors, including the provider’s price, the maximum subsidy amount (the county’s maximum rate) for the county the child care provider is located in, the child’s age, and the type of provider you select (certified/licensed, etc.).

How will I know if my child will receive funding in this program and how much funding?

You will receive an authorization letter that will include the funding amount that the provider will be paid. The authorization worker will also be able to tell you over the phone at the time your authorization is completed.

What is an authorization? 

A child care authorization is the written document that informs you of the amount of funds that are approved to cover your child care needs. These funds will be distributed by DCF directly to your provider.

If my child is currently receiving an authorization through the Wisconsin Shares program, can I end those services and participate in this program?

No. Your child does not qualify for this pilot program if they are currently receiving Wisconsin Shares.

Are siblings of the Birth to 3 Program participants eligible?

No. Siblings are not eligible unless they are participants in the Birth to 3 Program as well.

How long is an authorization good for?

Authorizations will be written for a 12-month period.

What’s the latest my child could receive an authorization?

The last authorization for the program will be written no later than June 30, 2023.

What happens if my child turns 3-years-old during an authorization period?

If your child turns 3-years-old during an authorization period, they will remain eligible until the authorization ends.

How are the authorized hours determined?

All children will receive full-time authorizations. Full-time is defined as 35-50 hours per week. How many hours your child actually attends is between you and your provider.

How will the child care provider be paid?

DCF will make a direct deposit into your child care provider’s bank account through our FIS agreement. The provider will be able to link that payment to your child.

What happens if I need to change child care providers?

If you need to change child care providers, you must inform your authorization worker about the change in the month before the change. This is because DCF pays in advance on the first of the month, for the full month, unless we know that you will change providers well in advance.

There are certain risks when changing child care providers. There are some areas of Wisconsin where there are shortages of child care providers, so you may have trouble finding a new child care provider. Reach out to your local agency child care worker for help coordinating the transfer to the new county.

If you change child care providers after June 30, 2023 and your new child care provider is more costly than the first child care provider, you may have more out-of-pocket costs. This will happen because this project has a limited amount of funds that are based the price that was set with the original child care provider. 

What happens if I move across county lines and need to find a new child care provider?

Your authorization worker needs to be informed that you have moved and that you need to change child care providers. Contact your authorization worker and your Birth to 3 Program Service Coordinator. Your authorization worker will end your child care subsidy payments to your child care provider to prevent future DCF payments from being issued. Your local agency child care worker will help coordinating the transfer to the new county.

What happens if I move within my same county but don’t need to change child care providers?

Tell your authorization worker right away of your address change. It is important that our records are up-to-date so we can reach you through postal mail. This ensures that you get important mailings about your child care subsidy.

What are the eligibility criteria for a child participating in this program?

  • The family must reside in Wisconsin
  • The child is under the age of 3 when the authorization begins
  • The child is enrolled in the Birth to 3 Program and has an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) in place
  • The child is a citizen or a qualified immigrant
  • The child has a valid Social Security number
  • The child is not receiving and has not been determined eligible to receive Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy
  • The family is not participating in the Partner Up! program