Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4

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Información en español

February 2024 – June 2024

The Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4 is a five-month payment program that runs February 2024 – June 2024. Once approved for payments, eligible providers may continue to receive ongoing monthly payments, providing the financial stability they need to stay open, to recruit and retain qualified staff, and to continue providing high-quality care for children.

Looking for information on Round 3? Visit the Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 3 webpage.

Thanks to an additional $170 million in emergency funding that Gov. Tony Evers has directed to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF), Child Care Counts will continue through June 2025. Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4 will begin in February 2024. While there are a few minor changes for Round 4, the overall structure of the program will remain the same.  

See below for more information including:

  • Application/Update and Count Weeks for Round 4
  • Overview of Round 4
  • Round 5 Preview (July 2024)

Full details for both rounds will be available closer to the start of each round.  

  • Round 4: February 2024 – June 2024
  • Round 5: July 2024 – June 2025 

Round 4 (February 2024 – June 2024)

*Updated 1/8/24* The March Application and Count Weeks have been updated. Based on provider feedback and Spring Break schedules, the March Application Week has been extended to two weeks, and the Count Week has been moved one week earlier.

Month

Application/   
Update Week

Count Week

Payment Letter Date

Spending Deadline

February 2024

2/10 - 2/25/24

1/28 - 2/10/24

3/8/24

7/6/24

March 2024

3/16 - 3/31/24

3/3 - 3/16/24

4/12/24

8/10/24

April 2024

4/27 - 5/5/24

4/14 - 4/27/24

5/17/24

9/14/24

May 2024

5/25 - 6/2/24

5/12 - 5/25/24

6/14/24

10/12/24

June 2024

6/29 - 7/7/24

6/16 - 6/29/24

7/19/24

11/16/24

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has allocated a total of approximately $650 million in funds for the Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program to support Wisconsin’s early care and education community. This will be the fourth round of the Stabilization Payment Program. Approximately $480 million was paid out in Rounds 1 – 3. Approximately $50 million in remaining federal COVID-relief funding is allocated for Round 4.

Latest Round 4 Updates

1/16/24 - Child Care Counts – Payment Information for Rounds 4 and 5 

The Child Care Counts program was set to end in January until Governor Evers directed $170 million in emergency funding to continue the program. The Governor’s action means DCF has about $10 million available for Child Care Counts for each month of February 2024 through June 2025. To put this in context, we had about $12 million available for each month of Round 3 (May 2023 – Jan 2024) as we were able to move about $2 million per month of federal underspend from other programs into Child Care Counts. Federal deadlines no longer allow us to move underspend. Therefore, we estimate that beginning with the first Round 4 payment on March 8, 2024, payment amounts will be about 80% of what they have been in Round 3. Actual payment amounts will vary depending on each provider’s program characteristics. 

Child Care Counts Historical Funding 

The information below shows approximately how much funding DCF has had to make Child Care Counts payments for each Round of the program. 

  • Rounds 1-2 (November 2021 – April 2023) - $21 million per month 
  • Round 3 (May 2023 – January 2024) - $12 million per month
  • Rounds 4-5 (February 2024 – June 2025) - $10 million per month 
    • Note:  During Rounds 4-5, the YoungStar Quality Adjustment program connected to Wisconsin Shares will also pay providers roughly $1.5 million per month

Throughout the program, DCF has directed all available federal funding to Child Care Counts to support providers as fully as possible. DCF remains committed to the Child Care Counts Program and knows how impactful it has been for you during the last three years.

How much will the payments be for Rounds 4 and 5?

Payment amounts have not yet been determined.  

Can I receive both the Quality Incentive Per-Staff amount through Child Care Counts, AND the YoungStar Quality Adjustment payments?  

Yes. Eligible providers may receive both the Quality Incentive from Child Care Counts, as well as the YoungStar quality adjustment. In order to receive quality payments through the YoungStar quality adjustment system, providers must have either a 4 or 5 star rating, and be currently caring for children who receive Wisconsin Shares.  

How long is CCC funded for?  

DCF currently has funding for the Child Care Counts program through June 2025.  

When can I apply for Round 4?

Providers may apply for Round 4 during any of the five (5) Application Weeks.  

Overview of Round 4

Monthly Payments

The Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4 is a five-month payment program that runs February 2024 – June 2024. Once approved for payments, providers will continue to receive ongoing monthly payments by continuing to meet eligibility requirements and adhering to the program terms and conditions.  

Required Child and Staff Records for Initial Application

Verification documents must be uploaded with the initial Stabilization Round 4 application. Providers cannot submit an application without uploading the following documents:

  • Program A – Child Attendance Records
  • Program B – Staff Records (employment status, part/full-time status, and current wages/rate of pay), and Child Attendance Records (if they were not already uploaded for Program A)

Required Monthly Updates

Once approved for payments, providers must update/verify child and staff information and re-submit their application every month to maintain eligibility for ongoing payments. This is done during the Monthly Update Week.  

Spending Deadlines

Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program funds must be spent within 120 days of the date of the Payment Letter for the given month. Providers must keep documentation of how funds were spent.

Open Providers

Providers must be open and caring for children to be eligible for payments. There may be an exception to this requirement for providers temporarily closed due to COVID-19 exposure. 

Programs A and B

There will still be both Program A and Program B for Child Care Counts.  

Program A payments will still be based on the number of children entered in the application, and include the same add-ons for eligible providers:  

Inclusive Birth to 3 Pilot Add-On Amount: for providers caring for children who are participating in the Inclusive Birth to 3 Child Care Pilot.  

Wisconsin Shares Add-on Amount: for each child included in the application who had a Wisconsin Shares Authorization during the Count Week.

Program B remains focused on supporting staff compensation, while offering flexibility in the use of funds to support recruitment and retention. Program B will still consist of:

  • Base-Per Staff amount: for each eligible staff listed in the application  
  • Quality Incentive Per-Staff amount: based on YoungStar Rating, for each eligible staff listed in the application

Return to Attendance-Based Monthly Payments

Round 4 payments will be based on the number of children and staff entered in the application each month for Round 4. Payment amounts may change each month, depending on the number of staff and children entered during each Update Week. 

Initial Application – Feedback Questions 

The Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4 initial application will include a few new questions. This information will be used by DCF to understand the amount of unfilled enrollment spots in child care programs statewide and identify potential causes, as well as impacts on families and communities. This is also an opportunity for you to provide information to help inform potential future programs to support child care providers and strengthen their child care programs.

These feedback questions will only be used for information gathering purposes.

  • This information will not be used for audit purposes.
  • There is no need to gather documentation for your answers
  • Please estimate if you do not know the exact answer to the question.
  • Feedback results will not be published with your facility name, nor with any identifying information related to your child care

These questions will only need to be completed one time for the duration of Stabilization Round 4. These will appear in a provider’s initial Round 4 application.

View the Feedback Questions to see what questions will be included in the Round 4 application.  
 

Definition of Terms

See below for definition of terms that are used to define different points in time, and how payments are determined for the Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4.

Definition of Terms – Points in Time

Please see the Child Care Counts Calendar for all dates listed below. Providers can add reminders to their own calendars by clicking ‘add to my calendar.’

Application Week

The time frame during which providers can apply for the Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program.

  • This is when the Child Care Counts application is open and available in the Child Care Provider Portal
  • Providers who have not previously submitted an application can apply during this time 
  • Providers who were ineligible, whose applications were previously denied, or who withdrew from the program may reapply during this time

Monthly Update Week

The time frame when providers who applied, and who were approved for the previous month, report any changes or confirm child attendance and staffing.

  • Once approved for funding, providers must update child attendance and staffing every month during this time
  • For example, if a provider submitted their application and were approved in February, they must update child and/or staff information during the Monthly Update Week in March and each subsequent month

Count Week

The point in time for which child and staff information is collected for payment calculations.

  • The Count Week is two weeks, or 14 days long
  • The Count Week will be different for each month
  • The Count Week will be specified in each application in the Child Care Provider Portal, and providers must update the child attendance and/or staffing records for this time period each month 

Payment Review Days

The days when DCF reviews applications and updates to ensure the provider remains eligible for payments.

Definition of Terms – How Payments are Determined

Spending Deadline 

All Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program funds must be spent within 120 days of the date of Payment Letter for the given month. Costs must have been incurred between January 1, 2024 and 120 days from the date of the payment letter.

Per-Child Amount

Program A payment amount for each child entered in the application for the Count Week.

Wisconsin Shares Add-on Amount

Program A payment amount given in addition to the Per-Child Amount for each child included in the application who had a Wisconsin Shares Authorization during the Count Week.

Inclusive Birth to 3 Pilot Add-on Amount

Program A payment amount given in addition to the Per-Child Amount for each child included in the application who is participating in the Inclusive Birth to 3 Child Care Pilot.

Base Per-Staff Amount 

Program B payment amount for each eligible full-time/part-time staff listed in the application.

Quality Incentive Per-Staff Amount 

Program B additional payment amount based on YoungStar star rating for each eligible full-time/part-time staff listed in the application.  
 

Payment Program A - Increasing Access to High-Quality Care

Who Can Apply

  • Regulated child care providers
    • Licensed Group Centers
    • Licensed Family Providers
    • Licensed Day Camps
    • Certified Providers
    • License-exempt Public School Programs

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be regulated and in good standing as defined by DCF during the Count Week, the Application Week, Monthly Update Weeks, and on Payment Review Days. 
  • Must be open and caring for children ages 0 through 12, or under 19 for children with disabilities, during the Count Week identified for each month.
  • Must update child and staff information every month following initial application
  • Must be in compliance with background check requirements.
  • Must be in compliance with health and safety administrative rules for child care providers as outlined by DCF Child Care Regulation and meet the requirements of any local orders.
  • If my program has an outstanding Wisconsin Shares or Child Care Counts overpayment, I must be in compliance with any DCF Finance Repayment Agreement. If there is no Agreement, I must be making regular monthly payments toward the debt.
  • Agree to the payment program Terms and Conditions.

Allowable Use of Funds

  • Payment Program A – Increasing Access to High-Quality Care funds must be used to support reasonable and necessary costs of maintaining or enhancing high-quality care, which include:
    • Operating expenses, necessary to remain open, including, but not limited to mortgage payments, rent/space costs, utilities, insurance, business-related taxes, and payroll/benefits
    • Expenses related to mitigating the risk of COVID-19, including but not limited to personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies for cleaning and sanitation
    • Materials/supplies for enhancing the program environment and curriculum, and social and emotional development supports
    • Professional development and/or continuing education
    • Additional costs to ensure high-quality programming
    • Mental health services for children and employees
    • Relief from copayments and tuition payments for families 
      • You are encouraged to prioritize families most in need of financial relief
      • You may cover tuition and fees in excess of the amount paid by Wisconsin Shares
      • Wisconsin Shares payments from families cannot be reimbursed

Spending Time Frame

  • Funds received each month under this program must be spent within 120 days of the date of Payment Letter for the given month
  • Expenses cannot have already been funded by a prior DCF program or reimbursed by another state or federal fund source
  • Costs must have been incurred between January 1, 2024 and 120 days from the date of the Payment Letter.  
     
Payment Program B - Funding Workforce Recruitment and Retention

Who Can Apply

  • Regulated child care providers
  • Licensed Group Centers
  • Licensed Family Providers
  • Licensed Day Camps
  • Certified Providers
  • License-exempt Public School Programs

Eligibility Requirements

  • Must be regulated and in good standing as defined by DCF during the Count Week, the Application Week, Monthly Update Weeks, and on Payment Review Days.
  • Must be open and caring for children ages 0 through 12, or under 19 for children with disabilities, during the Count Week identified for each month
  • Must update child and staff information every month following initial application
  • Must be in compliance with background check requirements
  • Must be in compliance with health and safety administrative rules for child care providers as outlined by DCF Child Care Regulation and meet the requirements of any local orders
  • If my program has an outstanding Wisconsin Shares or Child Care Counts overpayment, I must be in compliance with any DCF Finance Repayment Agreement. If there is no Agreement, I must be making regular monthly payments toward the debt.
  • Agree to the payment program Terms and Conditions

Allowable Use of Funds

Payment Program B funds must be used to support necessary and reasonable costs associated with recruiting and retaining high-quality staff.

  • Base Per-Staff Amount must be used toward the goal of maintaining or increasing existing compensation (wages, bonuses, or benefits) for each staff person included in that month’s Count Week
  • Quality Incentive Per-staff Amount must be used toward one or more of the following: wages, bonuses, benefits, recruiting, professional development, staff trainings, scholarships, or other continuing education expenses

Spending Time Frame

  • Funds received each month under this program must be spent within 120 days of the date of Payment Letter for the given month.
  • Expenses cannot have already been funded by a prior program or reimbursed by another state or federal fund source.
  • Costs must have been incurred between January 1, 2024, and 120 days from the date of the Payment Letter.  
     
How Payments are Determined

Each month, information will be posted on the How Payments are Determined page to inform providers about how payments were determined for that particular time period.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Please read through the Frequently Asked Questions for more information.

Resources - Videos, Guides, and Tools

These resources will help you gain access to the Child Care Provider Portal, register with FIS for direct deposit, upload required documents, submit your Child Care Counts application, and more.

Application Resources

Submitting Your Child Care Counts Application

The guide and Child Care Counts Stabilization Application video provide step-by-step instructions on submitting your application in the Child Care Provider Portal

Update Guides

The update Guide and update Video show step-by-step instructions for updating and re-submitting your application during monthly Update Weeks.

Uploading Documents to the Child Care Provider Portal

Check out the Uploading Documents to the Child Care Prover Portal Guide and Uploading Files video with instructions on uploading documents.

Modifying a Submitted Application

This video explains how to modify a submitted application (before the deadline).

Temporary Closure Guide

See the Temporary Closure guide for instructions on entering temporary closures in the Child Care Counts Application.

Provider Portal Resources

Accessing the Child Care Provider Portal

See the Accessing the Child Care Provider Portal guide and Accessing the Child Care Provider Portal video for instructions on how to request access and log in to the Child Care Provider Portal.

Audit Resources

Child Care Counts Audit and Overview Training Video 

This is a general overview of the Audit and Review Process. The audio is in English, but Spanish closed captions are available. 

Child Care Counts Audit Process Flowchart 

Step-by-step overview of the DCF Child Care Counts audit process.

Spending Tool Resources

Spending Tool Resources – For Round 3: May 2023 - January 2024

The Spending Tool is recommended for organizing and tracking how you spend your Child Care Counts Stabilization Payment Program Round 3 funds. You can now choose from a spreadsheet that you can use in Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets, or a document that you can print out or use in Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

  • Download the Spending Tool Excel Spreadsheet to organize your expenses with built in calculations.
  • Download the Spending Tool Word Document to print or use in in a different format.

Other Resources

Finding Total Child Care Counts Payment Amounts

View this step-by-step walkthrough of finding a facility's total Child Care Counts payment amounts for each payment program.

Employment and Wage Verification for Family Providers

This form can be completed by family providers to verify employment and wages. This can be used for owner/operator, and for staff of the family provider, too.

Online Calendar

View this online calendar for important dates related the to the Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program. You can add dates to your personal calendar using this tool.

Request for Review

This document is recommended when requesting a review of a Child Care Counts denial. See Denials and Review Process section of the Frequently Asked Questions for more information

How to Change Video Closed Captions from English to Spanish

The closed captions guide provides instructions on how to change video closed captions from English to Spanish. Note: The voiceover will remain in English.

Remittance Slip - Voluntary Child Care Counts Stabilization Repayment Form

If a provider is unable to spend a Child Care Counts payment within the spending time frame, unused Child Care Counts funds must be immediately returned to DCF. Remember, Child Care Counts funding can be used to cover eligible expenses incurred between January 1, 2023, and 120 days from the date of the Payment Letter. Providers can look back at their costs to identify where these funds can be used.

For immediate return of Child Care Counts funds, mail a personal check, cashier’s check, or money order to the address below with the Provider Name, Provider #, Location #, and the Child Care Counts Round, and program being returned. Please include this remittance slip with your payment:

Bureau of Child Care Subsidy Administration

Attention: Operations Program Associate             
PO Box 8916             
Madison, WI 53708-8916

FIS Resources

FIS Guide

The FIS Guide provides information on how to set up an account with Fidelity National Information Services (FIS). You will also find guidance on how to update your bank account information and reset your password.

If you are approved for Child Care Counts payment and want to receive your payment faster through direct deposit (ACH), it is recommended that you register with FIS if you do not already have an account set up.

If you are an existing provider currently receiving ACH payments and you need to update your bank account information, please contact FIS Merchant Services at Merchant.Services.Support@fisglobal.com,  or 1-800-894-0050 for a Bank Change Form.

If you do not have an account with FIS, it will take longer for your Child Care Counts payments to reach you, as they will be sent by check from DCF. If you have any questions about registering with FIS, please contact the Child Care Counts Support Center for assistance.

If you need help or have questions about the Child Care Counts payment program, please contact the Child Care Counts Support Center at DCFDECECOVID19CCPayments@wisconsin.gov. If you are unable to email, you may call and leave a detailed message at 608-535-3650. Support Center hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.

PLEASE NOTE: Email is recommended for a faster response.

When contacting the Support Center, please include your name, facility name, provider number, and detailed question.

Contact Information

If you need any assistance, please contact the Child Care Counts Support Center.

Child Care Counts Support Center

When contacting the Support Center, please include your name, facility name, provider number, and detailed question.

Support Center hours are 8 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. M-F.

Terms and Conditions

Read the Terms and Conditions of the Child Care Counts: Stabilization Payment Program Round 4.

Términos y condiciones.

Round 5 Preview

Round 5 will be begin in July 2024. Full program details will be available closer to the start of Round 5. 

Visit the Round 5 webpage for a preview of Round 5 and important dates.

 

IMPORTANT NOTICE

The Child Care Counts programs are time-limited payment programs designed to provide assistance to child care providers in response to the COVID-19 public health emergency. They are not subawards as that term is defined in 45 CFR 75 and related federal regulations.