Starting a Licensed Child Care

Thank you for your interest in starting a licensed child care center – providing care to Wisconsin’s children is a valuable service to families and the community!

For more information about how the sale/transition of a child care business from one owner to another impacts Wisconsin Shares, visit the Ensuring Continuity web page.

For more information about starting a Certified Child Care Program, contact your local certification agency.

We strongly encourage you to access all resources electronically. However, if you would prefer a printed version of the inquiry packet, please complete and submit the Ordering Information – Child Care Licensing Inquiry Packets form English / Spanish.

Please read through all content below BEFORE you begin the pre-licensing process.

Am I eligible to open or start a child care business?

The child care background check law, Wis. Stat. 48.686, prohibits licensure when a license applicant, household member, or employee has a conviction or pending charges for certain serious crimes or a substantiated finding of abuse or neglect.

Review the department’s resources for information about crimes and offenses that could impact your ability to obtain a license:

To find out if you or any adult who resides at your proposed child care center has anything in their record that could be a barrier to licensure, you may want to complete background checks in advance for yourself and each adult household resident. Several options for this include:

Wis. Stat. 48.715 (7) requires the department to deny an application for a child care license if the applicant is liable for delinquent taxes or for delinquent unemployment insurance contributions.
If you have been certified delinquent, contact:

What type of child care license should I obtain?

Family Child Care – DCF 250

A child care program that provides care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day for at least 4 and not more than 8 children who are not related to the provider.

Group Child Care – DCF 251

A child care program that provides care and supervision for less than 24 hours a day for 9 or more children who are not related to the provider.

Day Camps for Children – DCF 252

A child care program that provides care and supervision to 4 or more children 3 years of age and older in a seasonal program oriented to the out-of-doors for less than 24 hours a day.

Child Care Regulation Fees

See the Child Care Regulation Fees page for information regarding the different types of fees associated with child care licensing.







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