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Simple Guide To Getting Your Child Care License In Wisconsin

Opening up a home-based preschool or family child care in Wisconsin starts with getting your Wisconsin child care license. At least if you want to begin with the best start possible. Online forms and state websites can be daunting, to say the least. But Wonderschool streamlines and updates the process for anyone in Wisconsin who wants to start a school in 2022.

How to use this guide

First of all, congratulations on taking this exciting step in your licensing journey!

  1. Keep this guide close and check things off as you go ✅
  2. Make use of our library of resources for additional support
  3. Join Wonderschool for additional community support

Step 1: Familiarize yourself with your state licensing website

  • Go to the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families website and look at their licensing requirements. Go here for your local CCR&R info session details
  • Use this website to determine the closest regional licensing agency in charge of your applications based on the county that you are setting up your facility

Step 2: Determine any barriers to licensure

  • Wisconsin requires that you are able to pass any of their background checks as part of their application process.
    • 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.
  • 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.

Step 3: Determine the type of child care program you want to open

  • 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.

Step 4: Complete and enroll in the required entry-level training

  • This document outlines the necessary steps and classes including links for sign up
  • To sign up for the fundamental courses to learn about child care, look here

Step 5: Create a business plan (optional but suggested)

  • WI suggests determining the need for the program you are considering. You can involve other agencies and members of your community to gather information about what you will offer and the age group you plan to serve
  • Contact your local Resource and Referral Agencies here
  • Pre-determine how your business will be organized (LLC, Individual/Sole Proprietorship)


Step 6: Order an Inquiry Packet

  • Print and complete this form
    • Make sure you select the right program type
  • The required fee ($25.00) must be in the form of a cashier’s check or money order payable to the Department of Children and Families – No personal checks will be accepted
    • Send the completed form and fee to:

Department of Children and Families

2187 N Stevens St. Ste. C

Rhinelander, WI  54501

Step 7: Complete the materials obtained in the inquiry packet

  • Please follow the step-by-step instructions provided in the “Procedure for obtaining an Initial License” document enclosed in the inquiry packet and familiarize yourself with the licensing rule book


Step 8: Complete background check

  • NOTE:

Step 9: Consider Participating in Wisconsin Shares and YoungStar

  • YoungStar helps to improve the quality of childcare


Step 10: Complete and submit the Child Care Business Startup Worksheet

  • In your inquiry packet, there is a Child Care Business Start-up worksheet that you complete a submit to SFTA Technical Consultant


Step 11: Complete the pre-licensing technical assistance with SFTA

  • The SFTA Technical Consultant will contact you
    • Your TC will review a checklist of items with you that must be in place before a license can be issued
    • Contact SFTA to ensure you have an assigned SFTA Technical Consultant who you will work with to submit this pre-licensing screening


Step 12: Submit Your Application Materials

  • After meeting with SFTA, you will be given an application for a child care license
  • Complete and submit final application to the regional licensing office serving your area
    • Find your office here

Step 13: Success!

Pat yourself on the back, take a deep breath, and get some rest!


Start and grow your child care business with Wonderschool

Join Wonderschool for support throughout the licensing process, setting up your environment, making critical business decisions, and running the day-to-day of your program. You don’t have to do this alone!