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Child Care Subsidy for Parents

If you would like to apply for Wisconsin Shares, or are a parent receiving Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy, click on the headings below to learn more about the program.


Parent / Caregiver Equity Advisory Cabinet

Wisconsin’s Department of Children and Families is developing a Parent/Caregiver Equity Advisory Cabinet (PCEAC) to ensure that the state’s early childhood programs, policies and services address the daily challenges facing families with children ages 0-5 and their caregivers. Members will meet quarterly to share their unique voices, lived experiences, and community reflections. Learn more.  Información en español.

Applying for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program

There are multiple ways to apply for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program. You may find the different ways by going to the How to Apply page. The How to Apply page gives you information on how to apply for the program and provides a step-by-step guide to the application process, becoming eligible, and how to be successful in the program.

Parents Residing in Milwaukee County

You can find Milwaukee-specific information on the Milwaukee Early Care Administration Parent Resources page.

Finding a Child Care Provider

YoungStar is Wisconsin’s child care Quality Rating and Improvement System. YoungStar offers services that help child care providers create safe and nurturing places for children to grow. Making healthy child care choices can set the stage for your child’s lifelong success. However, choosing child care isn’t easy. YoungStar evaluates thousands of child care programs all over Wisconsin, to help you find a program that is right for your family. Visit the Child Care Finder page to search for the one that is right for you.

Consider asking your child care provider the following questions:

  • What is my total cost for child care?
  • How often am I billed - weekly, biweekly, or monthly?
  • What date do I need to pay my bill?
  • Are receipts available when I make a payment?
  • May I review your payment agreement?
  • Would you like to be paid by phone, online, or in person?
  • What's your policy for absences?
  • What is your policy for children who are sick?
  • What are your policies on child behavior?

How to be Successful in the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program

Participating in your Child Care Needs Assessment

After you have applied and have become eligible, you will participate in an assessment of your child care needs. This assessment determines the number of hours, the amount of subsidy funds, and the number of hours the program will help to fund. Be sure to complete your needs assessment with your worker within 30 calendar days of applying.

If you are already in the program and are near your annual renewal date, you will have to complete another assessment of your child care need following a completed renewal.

To learn more about your child care needs assessment, speak with a local income maintenance agency or tribal agency worker.

Reporting Changes

After becoming eligible for Wisconsin Shares, it is important to notify your local income maintenance agency within 10 calendar days after changes occur, or you might receive too much – or not enough – subsidy funds. You must pay subsidy funds back if you receive too much.

The changes that need to be reported include, but are not limited to:

  • Change in income (yours or someone in your assistance group)
  • A change of residence address or mailing address
  • A change in household members
  • A change in marital status
  • A change in a relationship with a child in the household (i.e., adoption or paternity establishment)
  • A change in your child’s shared placement schedule
  • A change in approved activity (schedule, paycheck, or loss of employment)
  • A change in your school schedule (if you are using the Wisconsin Shares program for child care while you are in school)
  • An increase in child support to more than $1,250/month
  • A change in your child care needs (increase in hours, change in commute time)

Avoid Overpayments

Overpayments occur when you have been given more subsidy funds than you were eligible for. If you have been given too much you will receive a notice of overpayment. The notice of overpayment will tell you:

  • The total overpayment amount
  • The period of time the overpayment occurred
  • The situation that caused the overpayment

You will also receive an overpayment calculation worksheet further detailing how the overpayment amount was calculated.

If you report any changes within 10 calendar days that the change occurs, your chances of an overpayment will be reduced. Always pay attention to the amount of subsidy you receive and the hours of child care that you need. It is important to always look at your Authorization Notice to see if anything is incorrect and contact your local income maintenance or tribal agency as soon as possible.

Child Support Cooperation

Parents participating in Wisconsin Shares will be referred for child support services for their biological or adopted children.

Parents must cooperate with the child support agency in establishing legal paternity for their child(ren) and in collecting child support from any absent parent.

See additional information regarding child support.

The Wisconsin Shares and YoungStar programs are monitored to make sure subsidy funds are properly issued to families and child care providers. By accepting Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy, you understand that the program is continuously monitored for accuracy in eligibility and authorization determinations.

Read the Wisconsin Shares Rights and Responsibilities brochure.

Written Payment Agreement

The provider(s) that you choose is responsible for keeping a written payment agreement.

The payment agreement includes the following information:

  • The provider’s monthly or weekly child care price
  • Days and hours of operation
  • Deposit policy
  • Any discounts or scholarships that are available
  • Payment schedule
  • Payment dispute policy
  • Provider’s anticipated closure dates and policy for payments during closures
  • Payment expectations for the child’s anticipated/unanticipated absences
  • Procedures for ending a child’s enrollment

MyWIChildCare EBT Card

After applying and receiving an authorization to your selected child care provider, your MyWIChildCare card will be mailed to you. The money available on the card is specific to your child care hours and care given at your authorized child care provider. To learn more about the MyWIChildCare EBT Card, visit the MyWIChildCare Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card page.

For immediate support, call the Fidelity National Information Services (FIS) Customer Service line 1-877-201-7601.

Paying your Child Care Provider

Your MyWIChildCare EBT card can only be used to make payments to your approved and authorized provider. The funds are only to be used for the hours of care provided for your child or children. Providers must clearly state the total cost of care in your payment agreement or other documents your child care provider gives to you. You are responsible for paying your child care provider for any child care costs that are not paid by Wisconsin Shares subsidy.

To learn about how subsidy funds and out-of-pocket costs are determined, please go to the Calculating your Out-of-Pocket Cost by Using the Maximum Rates Chart.

Foster Parents, Kinship Care Relatives and Interim Caretakers

Wisconsin Shares helps eligible families with the cost of quality child care while parents, including foster parents and kinship caregivers work, go to school and work, or engage in a job training activity.

Please visit the Wisconsin Shares Foster Parent page to learn more.

Parent Portal

The MyWIChildCare Parent Portal is an online system available to parents receiving Wisconsin Shares to help them manage their child care subsidy needs. The Parent Portal is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and is mobile-friendly.

You can use the Parent Portal to:

  • View your child care authorizations
  • Request a new authorization, or make changes to a current one
  • Check the balance on your MyWIChildCare EBT card and track your payments
  • Sign up to receive a text message on your cell phone when you have a new message in the Parent Portal from your worker
  • Track all requests entered in the Parent Portal using the Track My Requests button

Learn more about the Parent Portal on the Parent Portal Information page or watch the MyWiChildCare Parent Portal training video.

Parent Appeal Rights

If you disagree with any decision about eligibility, your authorization, or overpayments, you can request a fair hearing. A fair hearing gives you the chance to explain why you think there has been a wrong decision about your benefits. At the hearing, a hearing officer will hear from you and your agency to decide if the decision about your benefits was right or wrong. You can bring a friend, family member, or attorney with you to the hearing if you would like.

You can request a hearing using a letter or a Request for Fair Hearing form. To learn more about what information should be in the letter or to print the Request for Fair Hearing form, visit the Department of Administration’s Requesting a Hearing page. You can also ask your agency for a copy of the form. Your request for a fair hearing review must be submitted within the time frame written on your Notice of Eligibility or your Child Care “CC” Client Overpayment Notice.

If you will need a language translator, sign language interpreter, or other accommodation for a disability during the hearing, please include that information in your written request.

Fax your signed letter or the form to 608-264-9885, or mail your signed letter or the form to:

Division of Hearings and Appeals
P.O. Box 7875
Madison, WI 53707-7875

Intentional Program Violation (IPV)

An intentional program violation may result if you intentionally:

  • Do not report all of your income or changes to your income
  • Do not report income of the other caretaker/parent in the home
  • Do not report all household members
  • Do not accurately report placement of the authorized child(ren)
  • Do not participate in an approved activity or stop participating in an approved activity and do not report this change
  • Do not report changes to the hours of child care needed
  • Ask your child care provider for cash or other goods/services (besides child care) in exchange for payment

If you commit an IPV, you will be suspended from the program.

  • First violation – suspended from Wisconsin Shares Program for 6 months
  • Second violation – suspended from the Wisconsin Shares Program for 12 months
  • Third violation – suspended from the Wisconsin Shares Program permanently

Additional Child Care Resources

Wisconsin Shares Letters to Families

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) periodically sends letters to families about Wisconsin Shares and any updates or changes that are taking place. Read the letters below to learn the latest information about Wisconsin Shares.

  • February 2022 Wisconsin Shares Updates for Families  English  Spanish  Hmong
    • Read about the Wisconsin Shares Rate Increase, how to sign up for access to the Parent Portal, and signing up for text messages from DCF.

Frequently Asked Questions