Important Updates to Child Care Counts Payment Programs - for closed programs

image of bag of money and graph

(updated 3/23/2021)

  • Spending timeframe for Supplementary Payment Programs has been extended to June 30, 2021. Funds must be spent by June 30, 2021.
  • Spending timeframe for Emergency Payment Programs has been extended to December 31, 2021. Funds must be spent by December 31, 2021
  • All Child Care Counts funds must be spent (allocated and spent, goods delivered/services received) by the dates above. A “binding contract” in place or a plan for spending beyond the deadline will not fulfill the spending timeframe requirements.

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) understands that the recent changes regarding Child Care Counts payments have been complicated and difficult to keep up with. We heard from many of you that the previous spending deadline of March 31, 2021, was simply too short of a timeframe for spending your Supplementary funds. We have advocated on your behalf to get the deadline for spending Supplementary funds extended to June 30, 2021.

Along with this advocacy came additional examination of previous guidance that we have provided. The result of this is changes to the allowance of things such as ‘binding contracts’ and allocating for goods and services beyond the deadlines without having delivery of goods or performance of services.

Please visit the Frequently Asked Questions section below for more information and examples to help you understand how to spend your Child Care Counts Funds.

Additional Rounds of Child Care Counts Payments

We anticipate additional rounds of Child Care Counts payments being available in the near future. We will continue to provide additional updates as more information becomes available. DCF is committed to continuing to support the demand for high-quality child care access for Wisconsin’s families and supporting child care providers.

Consult with a Professional Tax Advisor or Financial Professional

Initial guidance released on April 22, 2020, provided that the cost of an expenditure is incurred when the recipient has expended funds to cover the cost. Upon further consideration and informed by an understanding of Federal and State compliance practices, DCF is clarifying that for a cost to be considered to have been incurred, performance or delivery must occur during the covered period, providers can release the related payment to vendors/employees within 30 days of the program/spend/incurred by deadline.  But the actual services or goods provided by the vendor/employee need to be performed or delivered no later than June 30, 2021.

To comply with this guidance, all funds from the Child Care Counts Payment Programs must be spent on expenses incurred as outlined below.

Emergency Payment Programs

  • Costs incurred from March 1, 2020 – December 31, 2021
  • Funds spent by December 31, 2021

Supplementary Payment Programs (Fall 2020 and Fall 2020 Round 2)

  • Costs incurred from March 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021
  • Funds spent by June 30, 2021

Refer to the Terms and Conditions for each program

You can find the amounts of any of your Child Care Counts funds by either logging into the Child Care Provider Portal, or viewing your payment amounts on the Payments Data webpage.

View this guide for step-by-step instructions to determine the determine the amounts of your Child Care Counts funds.

Application Period Funding Period Program Name Program Type Date Funds Must be Spent By
5/18 - 5/29/2020 3/12 - 4/11/2020 Essential Workers (1) 
Incentive Pay (2) 
Temporary Closure (3)
Emergency 12/31/2021
6/8 - 6/19/2020 4/12 - 5/11/2020 Essential Workers (1) 
Incentive Pay (2) 
Temporary Closure (3)
Emergency 12/31/2021
6/29 - 7/10/2020 5/12 - 5/26/2020 Essential Workers (1) 
Incentive Pay (2) 
Temporary Closure (3)
Emergency 12/31/2021
9/9 - 9/18/2020 Fall 2020 Supporting Quality Care (A) 
Staff Retention/Recruitment (B)
Supplementary 6/30/2021
10/26 - 11/6/2020 Fall 2020 Supporting Quality Care (A) 
Staff Retention/Recruitment (B)
Supplementary 6/30/2021
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about Spending Child Care Counts Payments

I have remaining Child Care Counts funds, and I received multiple rounds of funding. Where do I start to ensure I am spending the funds according to the appropriate timeframe?

  1. The first thing to do is look up all of your payment amounts, and determine if they are Emergency funds or Supplementary funds.
  2. Note the key spending deadlines: Emergency funds spent by December 31, 2021 and Supplementary funds by June 30, 2021.
  3. Remember – all funds must be spent – meaning allocated and spent on goods delivered or services performed by the program deadlines.

I am still not sure if I am allocating expenses properly. What can I do?

Please sign up for our listserv and visit our webpage for updates. We will add additional FAQs as we received them. Also – hiring a tax professional, financial advisor, or attorney would be allowable expenses under Emergency Program #1 and Supplementary Program B. You may wish to consider consulting a professional to ensure appropriate use of funds. We anticipate additional rounds of Child Care Counts funding in the near future, and this may serve as a helpful way to have your records in order before potential additional funding becomes available.

What does “expenses incurred” mean?

Expenses incurred relates to costs incurred and/or funding spent in order to run a child care program. Child Care Counts Program funds can be spent on any expense incurred due to the pandemic, and it must be included in the Terms and Conditions for the program for which the funds were received, during the appropriate spending timeframe.

Must I spend all of the Supplementary Child Care Counts Program funds by June 30, 2021 or Emergency funds by December 31, 2021? Do they have to be out of my bank account by that date?

Providers must comply with the deadlines listed above, but providers can look back at their costs  from March 1, 2020, through either June 30, 2021, for Supplementary funds or December 31, 2021, for Emergency funds, and identify expenses incurred where these funds could be used. Make sure to have documentation/receipts available of how these funds were allocated or spent in case of a future audit. See below for an example of this:

I received funds in both the Emergency and Supplementary programs. I have used some of the funds, but not all. I used my regular program revenue to pay my rent from March 1, 2020.

This means that you can look back at program costs – rent from March 1, 2020, and allocate your current Emergency program funds toward rent costs from that date untilDecember 31, 2021 or the end of the state of emergency, whichever is earlier (the spending deadline for Emergency funds), or until June 30, 2021 (the spending deadline for Supplementary funds).

Please note: If eligible for both fund sources, the sum of the allocation cannot exceed the actual amount of the cost.  A provider cannot get paid by both Emergency and Supplementary programs for the same cost. 

How long do I have to look back at my costs to identify expenses incurred? Will I get notification from DCF that the funds have to be spent or returned?  

For Emergency funds: Providers have until December 31, 2021, to identify expenses incurred between March 1, 2020– December 31, 2021, where they will allocate the funds received through the Child Care Counts Payment Program.

For Supplementary funds: Providers have until June 30, 2021, to identify expenses incurred between March 1, 2020 – June 30, 2021.

It is important that providers document how these funds were allocated and spent as they could be selected for a future audit and fund allocation or expenditure documentation could be requested.

I am using funds from Program B: Funding Staff Recruitment and Retention Efforts for staff pay increases. This money will remain in my account until future pay periods. Is this acceptable?

No. Program B: Funding Staff Recruitment and Retention Efforts is a Supplementary Payment program. This means that all funds received must be spent (goods delivered or services performed) by June 30, 2021.

I am planning an upgrade to my facility, and the work has not been done yet. Is this ok? 

No. If you are planning to use funds from the Supplementary Program A: Providing Safe, Health, and High-Quality Child Care Opportunities, these funds must be spent (goods delivered/services performed; work completed) by June 30, 2021.

Why did the spending timeframe change?

The spending timeframe was changed in order to comply with federal and state compliance requirements.

Why are there two different spending timeframes?

The Emergency and Supplemental Child Care Counts Payment programs were funded through different sources, which have different federal and state spending requirements.

I still have questions.

If you need help or have questions about your payments, please email If you are unable to email, you may call and leave your detailed questions at 608-535-3650. Please note that the call center will respond to your question as soon as possible, and email is recommended for faster response.