Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
Wisconsin Works (W-2) Manual
Child Care Availability
184.108.40.206.1 Determining Availability of Child Care
220.127.116.11.2 Demonstrating an Inability to Obtain Child Care
18.104.22.168 Death of an Immediate Family Member
The good cause reasons for failing to comply with the W-2Wisconsin Works assigned activities are:
1. Any required court appearance including a required court appearance for a victim of domestic abuse.
2. Inability to obtain child care that is necessary for the W-2 participant to participate or accept employment, but is unavailable and the W-2 agency was unable to provide or refer for alternate child care arrangements.
3. Lack of transportation with no reasonable alternative, as determined by the FEPFinancial and Employment Planner. In determining the reasonableness of transportation alternatives, FEPs should consider factors such as the length of commute, participant safety and cost of transportation in relationship to income.
4. Participant or W-2 Group member’s illness, injury or disability or incapacity. It is expected that a participant will need to remain home occasionally to care for an ill child who has to miss school or daycare or a participant will need to miss an assigned activity due to an unexpected illness or a documented chronic illness, e.g., chronic asthma, panic attacks, disabled child, child with behavioral problems, etc.
5. Accommodations identified in a formal assessment but the accommodations are not available to complete the assigned activity.
6. Conflict with another assigned W-2 activity or job search attempts.
7. Inclement weather that impedes transportation or travel.
8. School emergency.
9. Domestic violence issues as defined in Wisconsin Administrative Rule DCF 101.15(3).
10. Death in immediate family. (See 22.214.171.124)
11. Observance of a religious holiday.
12. Routine medical or school appointments, which cannot be scheduled at times other than during assigned activities.
13. Child’s school holiday with the exception of summer break.
14. Any day that the worksite or training site is closed due to a site-specific holiday, e.g., days closed surrounding Christmas, closure the day after Thanksgiving, etc.
15. Other circumstances beyond the control of the participant, but only as determined by the FEP.
A single parent placed in W-2 Employment Position Community Service Job, Trial Employment Match Program, and W-2 Transitions cannot be sanctioned for nonparticipation in any W-2 activities during a period of time when he or she is unable to obtain child care for a child under the age of 13. If child care is only available to the participant during specific hours of the day or days of the week, the W-2 agency must make every effort to assign work activities during those hours.
An applicant or participant who needs to secure child care arrangements in order to participate in W-2 activities should be assigned the task of securing child care as part of his or her participation requirements on the Employability Plan (EP). The W-2 activity code associated with this activity is Child Care Related Activities (CC). See W-2 Activity Code Appendix.
The applicant or participant should initially be assigned the CC activity for no less than 5 working days and no more than 10 working days to establish a sense of urgency in obtaining child care. If the applicant or participant has not been successful in obtaining needed child care by the end date of the CC activity, the worker must review the individual’s circumstances to determine if the applicant or participant has demonstrated an inability to obtain child care. (See 126.96.36.199.2)
If the applicant or participant has demonstrated an inability to obtain child care, the worker must grant good cause for all nonparticipation, until:
1. Child care is obtained; or
2. The applicant or participant is no longer demonstrating an inability to obtain child care.
Until child care is obtained (whether good cause is being granted or not), the CC activity must remain assigned on the EP and the applicant or participant must continue to pursue any possible leads about available child care. The worker must continue to closely monitor the applicant’s or participant’s progress.
Child care arrangements are ultimately the responsibility of the parent. However, a W-2 applicant or participant may be unfamiliar with the task of locating a child care provider. In these situations, the W-2 agency must help the applicant or participant.
In order to determine if child care is available, a W-2 staff person must discuss child care with each applicant or participant at the time of the initial assessment and during the review of the W-2 Participation Agreement.
The W-2 staff person must:
1. Explain to the applicant or participant his or her responsibility to obtain any needed child care for the hours of participation in W-2.
2. Determine if informal child care, or formal child care within a reasonable distance from the applicant’s or participant’s home, is available. Informal child care arrangements may be discussed, but an applicant or participant cannot be required to use an informal child care arrangement. If another parent is in the home, able and available to care for the child, child care is not needed.
3. Provide information to the applicant or participant about eligibility for W-2 child care assistance and the requirement for the provider to, at a minimum, be provisionally certified to qualify for assistance. (See Child Care Policy Manual)
4. If the applicant or participant does not currently have child care available, refer the individual to the local Child Care Resource and Referral Network (CCRR), which is available to help all parents locate safe and affordable child care throughout the state, and other child care resources in the community. If the referrals do not result in the applicant or participant locating child care, the W-2 agency may require the individual to demonstrate an inability to obtain child care. (See 188.8.131.52.2)
5. If available, offer the use of the W-2 agency on-site child care to the parent until an ongoing child care arrangement is found. A W-2 on-site child care provider must be regulated in order for the parent to leave the premises.
6. Discuss the availability of backup child care arrangements to ensure the applicant or participant is planning ahead for emergency situations when the regular provider is unable to care for the child(ren) or when the child is sick and cannot attend the regular child care program.
An inability to obtain child care must be based on the following reasons:
child care is not available within a reasonable distance from the parent’s
home or work site. Formal child care is considered available if there
is at least one licensed or certified child care facility with space available
for the child. The certified or licensed child care facility, including
a W-2 agency with certified or licensed on-site child care, must not be
considered available if there is documentation that the facility would
be harmful to the health or safety of the child. Reasonable distance means
no more than 60 minutes travel time one-way, using available transportation,
from the parent’s home to the child care provider’s location to the parent’s
work site. Travel time may be extended up to 90 minutes one-way if there
is a good placement opportunity for the participant AND the participant
is willing to enter into this arrangement.
2. Informal child care by a relative or under other arrangements is unavailable or unsuitable. Informal child care is defined as an arrangement in which the child care provider is neither licensed nor certified. Informal child care arrangements may be used by any W-2 participant; however, a participant cannot be required to use informal child care. (See Child Care Policy Manual, Chapter 1)
If the participant fails to demonstrate an inability to obtain child care, he or she may face payment reductions for nonparticipation.
An inability to obtain appropriate child care may be indicative of a shortage of child care providers in the community (including sick child care, evening and weekend care, culturally competent child care, and care for disabled children) and W-2 agency management should be alerted to the problem.
A participant may be granted up to 3 working days of good cause if there is a death of an immediate family member. However, if travel for funeral services is required or to accommodate cultural tradition, FEPs may grant good cause for up to 7 working days.
Immediate family is defined as the participant's spouse, non-marital co-parents, parents, step-parents, grandparents, foster parents, children, step-children, grandchildren, foster children, brothers and their spouses, sisters and their spouses, aunts, uncles, sons-in-law and daughters-in-law, cousins, nieces and nephews of the participant or his or her spouse or non-marital co-parent and other relatives of the participant or his or her spouse or non-marital co-parent if these other relatives reside in the same household as the participant.
History: Release 21-07; Release 12-03; Release 11-04; Release 11-01.