Wisconsin state law prohibits an individual from supervising and providing care for four or more children under the age of seven for fewer than 24 hours unless she is a licensed childcare provider. The licensing program in Wisconsin is managed by the Department of Children and Families. A licensed family daycare provider is legally allowed to provide care for up to 8 children and is primarily run from the daycare provider's home. There are separate rules and regulations for group care and day camps.
Request a child care licensing inquiry packet from the Department of Children and Families. Complete the form and mail them, along with the required $25 fee, to:
Department of Children and Families
2187 N Stevens St. STE C
Rhinelander, WI 54501
Review all the materials in your inquiry packet. The packet contains important information that you need to know, so be sure to read each document thoroughly. This packet also includes the licensing rule book and other documents that will help you get started.
Complete and send your Child Care Business Start-up worksheet to the Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA):
2109 S. Stoughton Road
Madison, WI 53716
After your worksheet is received, SFTA will assign you a technical consultant who will help you through the rest of the start-up process. He will ensure that you complete each step that is necessary to be eligible to be licensed. Your technical consultant will also be able to answer any questions that you have during the process.
After you have completed the start-up process, you will receive an application for a child care center license. Complete and submit the application form, your Initial Licensing Study Checklist and any other materials that are requested. Milwaukee residents can send their application materials to:
Bureau of Early Care Regulation
Southeastern Regional Office
141 NW Barstow - Room 104
Waukesha, WI 53188-3789
You and any other resident over the age of 10 who lives in your home must complete and pass a background check in order to be licensed. This check will review your criminal history and note whether you or any adults living in your home have any criminal convictions.
If you have successfully completed all previous steps, you are eligible to receive a six-month probationary license. The cost for this license is currently $15.12, with an additional $10 fee for each person in your home over the age of 10.
You must complete 40 hours of early-childhood education training. This can be done through independent home-study programs, any technical school or four-year college, or any other early-childhood education program that is approved by the Bureau of Regulation and Licensing. This training needs to be completed prior to the end of the six-month licensing probation period but it is ideal to have it completed before you open your business.
A new daycare license is valid for two years and costs for $60.50. You will not be able to receive your full license unless every requirement has been met.