Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

How Do I Apply for a License?

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Child Care Licensing

The child care licensing program is a component of the services provided by Department of Children and Families. The program is accountable for the statewide licensure of Wisconsin's child care facilities, including family child care, group child care and day camps. The purpose of the program is to promote the health, safety and welfare of children in licensed child care. The Department ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of child care facilities.

Click here to begin the child care licensing process.

Child Care Licensing Home Page.

Child Care Certification

State law requires counties and tribes to certify providers who receive public funding but are exempt from the licensing law. Most counties have made certification available for all family child care providers, whether or not public funding is involved. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) publicizes rules establishing standards for the certification of child care providers.

Start the certification process by reaching the appropriate Child Child Certification Contact.

Child Care Certification Home Page.

Child Welfare Licensing

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), is responsible for licensing and monitoring the three types of children's residential programs listed below. The purpose of the program is to promote the health, safety and welfare of children in community care arrangements. The Department ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of programs.

Foster Care

Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.

The foster care coordinator will give you more information about becoming a foster parent with their agency, such as:

  • licensing requirements, policies, and standards
  • what to expect as a foster parent
  • the foster parent application for their agency. 

During the application process, you will fill out paperwork and meet with social workers who will license your home.

For License Renewal - Contact your county foster care coordinator or child placing agency

Kinship

Court-ordered Kinship Care providers are required to complete the foster care licensing process.

For License Renewal - Contact your county foster care coordinator or child placing agency

Group Homes

Group Homes are facilities that operate to provide 24-hour care for 5-8 children or youth; learn more about becoming a licensed provider.

For License Renewal - Child Welfare Licenses are non-expiring but need to be continued every 2 years.  Facilities are notified by email when continuation materials are available on the Provider Information Exchange (PIE).  Materials must be completed and submitted to PIE 30 days prior to continuation.

Residential Care Center (RCC)

Residential Care Centers are child welfare agencies that provide residential care and treatment for children and youth; learn more about becoming a licensed provider

For License Renewal - Child Welfare Licenses are non-expiring but need to be continued every 2 years.  Facilities are notified by email when continuation materials are available on the Provider Information Exchange (PIE).  Materials must be completed and submitted to PIE 30 days prior to continuation.

Shelter Care

Shelter Care facilities provide short term care for children pending court action, children placed under a voluntary placement agreement, and/or children in need of respite services; learn more about becoming a licensed provider.

For License Renewal - Child Welfare Licenses are non-expiring but need to be continued every 2 years.  Facilities are notified by email when continuation materials are available on the Provider Information Exchange (PIE).  Materials must be completed and submitted to PIE 30 days prior to continuation.

Child Placing Agency

Child Placing Agencies are licensed to place children in foster and adoptive homes, as well as group homes.  Child Placing Agencies may license their own foster homes; learn more about becoming a licensed provider.

For License Renewal - Child Welfare Licenses are non-expiring but need to be continued every 2 years.  Facilities are notified by email when continuation materials are available on the Provider Information Exchange (PIE).  Materials must be completed and submitted to PIE 30 days prior to continuation.