Wisconsin Shares for Parents and Caregivers

father with two children

Every parent and caregiver wants more for their family. Whether it's more time for work, taking classes, or giving their kids a better start — child care plays a major role. Child care is an essential part of helping working families thrive. Parents and caregivers rely on safe, affordable child care so they can take advantage of opportunities to succeed and strengthen their families. Unfortunately, not enough Wisconsin families are getting the help they need and deserve. Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program wants to help. With a bit of financial support, you can make more possible!

How Do Parents Get More?

It's simple. A little relief from the financial strain of child care costs allows families to invest in other areas of their life and build on their strengths. Plus, they can feel confident knowing their children are safe and learning in a high-quality environment.

Here are some other ways families are getting more with help from Wisconsin Shares:

  • Access to quality child care gives your kid a happy and safe place to grow
  • Have more time to work and create financial stability
  • Going to school and taking classes to advance your career
  • Participate in approved work training programs

I am interested in applying for Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy

Applying for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program

There are multiple ways to apply for the Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy Program. They are listed on the How to Apply page, which also provides a step-by-step guide to the application process, becoming eligible, and how to renew your eligibility annually.

Eligibility and Application Process Overview

DCF has created a series of infographics to help walk you through getting your Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy, from eligibility to receiving the subsidy. If you have any questions, you can also refer to our How to Apply page or contact your local agency. However, if you live in Milwaukee County, be sure to use our Milwaukee Early Care Administration (MECA) Parent Resources page.

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.

Parents Residing in Milwaukee County

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

What if I don’t qualify for Wisconsin Shares but I can’t afford my child care?

You still have options. You can:

I am already enrolled in Wisconsin Shares

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.

Intentional Program Violation

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

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.   Spanish

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 authorization 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.

Paying Your Child Care Provider

Wisconsin Shares Child Care Subsidy funds are loaded onto an electronic benefits transfer (EBT) card. You will use your EBT card to pay your child care provider.

MyWIChild Care 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.

Your MyWIChildCare EBT card can only be used to make payments to your authorized provider for the hours of care provided for your child or children. Only pay the amount that your provider charges you. 

There are three (3) ways you can pay your child care provider:

  • Online - You may visit the FIS website at ebtedge.com to log into your account and make payment online.
  • Telephone - You may call the FIS customer service line (1.877.201.7601) and pay over the phone. It is important to have your card number with you before making the call.
  • At your provider’s location - Some child care providers have a Point of Sale (POS) device at their location. If this is the easiest method for you, please ask your child care provider if they have a POS device that you can use to make the payment.

To learn more about the MyWIChildCare EBT Card, visit the MyWIChildCare Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) Card page.

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

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. Only pay the amount your provider charges you on your Provider/Parent Written Payment Agreement or bill.

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.

Provider/Parent 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      
Changing Child Care Providers

Subsidy funds are loaded for a child to a specific provider at the beginning of each month.

  • If you need to change providers, or add another authorization to another provider, you must contact your local child care agency.
  • Be sure to contact your local agency in the month before your child begins attending the other provider.
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

Parents Residing in Milwaukee County

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

Other Resources

Additional Child Care Resources

If you are interested in finding more information about child care, please visit the Child Care Resource page.

Parent guides/brochures

Frequently Asked Questions

Have questions? Visit the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) page for parents.


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.

News and Announcements