behind great child care is Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

You have a trusted source in seeking quality child care–it's DCF.

As a parent or caregiver, you strive to give your child all the love and support they need to have a healthy, happy start in life. As you begin searching for child care, you want to ensure that the support they need to grow healthy and happy continues. DCF does too, and we're here to help. Our goal is to give you the tools and resources to make an informed, confident choice that benefits you and your child the most.

Are you an early care and education provider? Find some great provider resources at the bottom of this page.

Get to know your child care options and what regulated care means in Wisconsin.

Get to know the signs of quality child care and all about YoungStar, Wisconsin's child care quality rating and improvement system.

Find Your Way to the Child Care Your Family Deserves

So much goes into quality child care, and it’s only normal for parents and caregivers to have questions. DCF strives to provide families with all the tools and resources they need to be informed. Here are a few to get you started:

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Resources for Families

Find all the information you need to navigate the world of child care in Wisconsin.

Access Family Resources

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Strong Early Care and Education Builds Strong Communities Flyer

Discover how supporting early care and education benefits everyone, from children and families to entire communities.

Download the Flyer

The Marks of Excellent Early Care and Education

DCF works at every level to help ensure that all Wisconsin families have access to the tools, resources, and information they need to find the care that fits their family’s needs. We know a lot goes into providing, finding, and affording great child care. We believe there are three marks of excellence that every parent and caregiver should know.

4,000+ Regulated Providers in Wisconsin


DCF oversees all of Wisconsin’s regulated child care programs. We conduct rigorous background checks and ongoing visits of licensed or certified providers to ensure health and safety compliance.

Types of regulated care include:

  • Licensed family child care
  • Licensed group child care
  • Certified child care programs
  • Day camps
  • Public school operated programs

3,500+ YoungStar-Rated Programs in Wisconsin


YoungStar is Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement system. It objectively rates thousands of programs across the state and awards them up to five stars based on four key areas:

  • The child care staff's education and training
  • The learning environment and curriculum
  • The program's business and professional practices
  • The child's health and well-being

29,000+ Authorized Wisconsin Shares Enrollments


The Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program invests in eligible working families by covering a portion of their monthly child care costs. Wisconsin Shares helps families do more by:

  • Making quality child care more affordable
  • Allowing more time for work or school
  • Participating in approved work training
  • Gaining financial stability

Are you a Child Care Provider?

If you are one of Wisconsin’s valued child care providers, take advantage of the great resources DCF has just for you.