Start a Daycare in Wisconsin – Licensing – Regulations – Laws
|START A DAYCARE IN WISCONSIN||LICENSING|
|PHYSICAL PLANT AND EQUIPMENT||DAYCARE PROGRAM|
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Wisconsin Child Care Center
The Wisconsin Department of Children and families aims to provide access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education experiences, to enhance the children’s development and to support their families in work and parenting roles.
A facility that provides care on a regular basis to nine or more children under the age of seven years shall be deemed to be providing care for compensation and shall be licensed as a group child care center. Before receiving a license, an applicant for a license must complete all application forms truthfully and accurately and pay all fees and forfeitures due to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services. The Department may deny to issue or continue a license if another center operated by the licensee is in substantial non-compliance with the licensing rules or has any outstanding fine or forfeitures.
License to operate a group child care center shall be issued only to individuals who are responsible, mature, fit and qualified. To determine fitness and qualification, the Department will consider any history of civil or criminal violations or other offenses substantially related to the care of children by the applicant, owner, manager, representative, employee, center resident or other individuals directly or indirectly participating in the operation of the group child care center. A determination of being unfit and unqualified includes substantiated findings of child abuse or neglect under the laws of Wisconsin or in another state or territory whether or not it results in a criminal charge or conviction.
The Department shall issue a group child care license to an applicant within 60 working days from receipt of the application and department approval of a properly completed application, satisfactory department investigation and determination that the applicant is fit and qualified. Continued licensure requires that the licensee must continue to remain fit and qualified.
If the Department has reason to believe that the physical or mental health of any person associated with the care of the children at the center might endanger the children in car, the Department may require the submission of a written statement by a physician or a licensed mental health professional that will certify to the condition of the individual and its possible effect on the children in care. If the examination by a physician or a licensed mental health professional will give the Department reasonable concern for the care of the children, the license may be revoked or denied.
Initial Application for a Probationary License
An applicant for a license must participate in pre-licensing technical assistance towards the completion of the initial licensing study checklist with a representative of the Department prior to the submission of the application for a license. Information on how to obtain pre-licensing technical assistance is available from the Division of Children and Family Services regional offices. The Department will provide the application form to a license applicant after completing the pre-licensing technical assistance. An initial licensing study checklist includes a list of the licensing rules that must be met before a license can be issued. A copy of the checklist can be obtained from the Department or from its regional offices.
An applicant for a license must submit an application 60 days before the date proposed for the center to begin operating. An applicant for an initial license must include the following with the application form:
- The required license fee.
- A completed background information disclosure form provided by the Department to the applicant and, if the center will be in a residence, any household member aged 10 and above.
- A statement from a Department’s representative that details the results of any pre-licensing technical assistance.
- A statement from the applicant that indicates that the center is in compliance with all the applicable requirements.
- A copy of all the required policies and a completed copy of the group child care policy checklist provided by the Department.
- Any other materials determined by the Department as necessary to complete its licensing investigation.
Upon submission of a complete application, the Department shall conduct an investigation to determine if the applicant is eligible for a license. If the Department determines that the applicant is eligible for a license, the Department shall issue a probationary license with a 6-month duration. A probationary license can be renewed for one 6-month period. If the Department determines that an application does not comply with the requirements or that the Department’s investigation determines that the applicant is not eligible for a license, the Department may deny the application.
Obtaining a Regular License
An applicant for license renewal must submit at least 30 days before the expiration date of a probationary license the following:
- A completed license application.
- Background information disclosure forms that are duly completed, including any applicable fees.
- Fee for license renewal..
- Any changes to center policies if not submitted previously.
If the Department determines that the applicant met the minimum requirements for a license and that the applicable fees had been paid, the Department shall issue a regular license. Regular licenses will be reviewed and continued for a two-year period.
A regular license is valid indefinitely, unless it is suspended or revoked by the Department or surrendered by the licensee. At least 30 days before the continuation review date of the license, an applicant for license renewal must submit to the Department the following materials:
- A completed license continuation application.
- Any completed background information disclosure forms, including applicable fees.
- Fee for license renewal.
- Any changes to center policies if not submitted previously.
If the Department determines that the licensee has met the minimum requirements for a license and had paid the applicable fees, the Department shall continue the license for an additional two years.
Amending a License
A licensee may submit to the Department a written request for an amendment to the license to change any of the following aspects of the license:
- Licensed capacity of the center.
- The children’s age range.
- The center’s hours of operation.
- The days of operation of the center.
- The months of operation of the center.
- The name of the center.
Changes that affect the condition of the license as mentioned above cannot be made without the prior written approval of the Department. A center cannot move to a new location or change ownership without notifying the Department at least 30 days before the change. A new application and license will be required for center that moves or changes ownership.
Denial or Revocation of a License
The Department may deny, revoke, or suspend a license, initiate other enforcement actions, or place conditions on a license if the applicant or licensee, a proposed or current employee, a volunteer or any other person having regular contact with the children, has or has been any of the following:
- The subject of a pending criminal charge for an action that substantially relates to the care of the children or any activity of the center.
- Convicted of a felony, misdemeanor or other offense that substantially relates to the care of the children or any activity of the center.
- Determined to have neglected or abused a child, or has been determined to have committed an offense which substantially relates to the care of children or any activity of the center.
- The subject of a substantiated finding of misconduct in the Department’s nurse aide registry.
- The a person has been found by a court to have abandoned his or her child, has inflicted sexual or physical abuse on a child or has neglected or refused, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care or shelter for his or her child or ward or a child in his or her care as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.
- Had a child care license or certification revoked or denied within the last five years.
- Violated any provision of the Administrative Code or fails to meet the minimum requirements for a group child care center.
- Withheld information or made false statements
The operation of a group day care center depends on what is stipulated in the license granted by the Department. The number of children at any one time must not exceed the number for which the center is licensed. The age of the children enrolled in the center cannot be younger or older than the age range that is specified in the license. Also, the hours, days, and months of operation may not exceed what is specified in the license.
The licensee must comply with all the laws and regulations governing the facility and its operation. The licensee must comply with all the requirements of the Department and ensure that all information provided or submitted to the Department are current and accurate. The licensee must meet the representative of the Department, upon request, on matters pertaining to the license and the operation of the facility.
The licensee must submit to the Department certificate of insurance reflecting the current dates of coverage for all the following:
- General liability insurance with a minimum of $25,000 per person coverage and total limit of $75,000 per occurrence.
- Vehicle liability insurance when transportation is provided by the facility.
- Non-owned liability insurance if transportation is provided by vehicles not owned by the center.
The licensee must develop and submit to the Department written policies on fee payments and refunds, personnel job descriptions and programs, and discharge of enrolled children. The licensee must also develop, submit for approval to the Department, and implement written policies and plans on the following:
- Admission of children.
- Health care.
- Child Guidance.
- Contingency plans in the event of a fire, tornado or other emergency.
- Continuing education of staff members.
- Orientation of new staff and volunteers.
The licensee of a group day care center must see to it that all published statements such as brochures and releases are accurate. He must display the day care license at conspicuous places in the facility. He must make sure that all actions relating to the operation of the day care center will not adversely affect the health, safety, and welfare of the children under his care as a licensee.
The licensee is required by law to report to the Department the following:
- Any death of a child or any accident that results in an injury that requires professional medical treatment while the child is in the care of the center.
- Any damage to the day care premises which may affect the care of the children.
- A change in the administration of the day care center, such as board chairperson, administrator, or center director.
- A change in any program service.
- Statistical data as required by the Department on department provided forms.
- Any convictions, pending charges or other offenses of the licensee, employees, or other persons subject to checks which could compromise the care of the children at the center.
- Any change in the room usage.
- Any incident relating to a child who leaves the premises of the facility without the knowledge of the licensee, or any incident resulting in the licensee not knowing the whereabouts of a child cared by the center within 24 hours of the occurrence.
- Any incident of suspected abuse or neglect of a child by a staff member or any inappropriate discipline imposed on a child by a staff member.
- Any incident involving law enforcement that involves the licensee, a household resident or an employee of the facility in an incident that threatens to cause physical or serious emotional harm to an individual, including children in the care of the center; or any traffic-related incident that involves a person who is transporting children in the care of the center.
- Any construction or remodeling work on the premises of the day care center that may affect an area that is accessible to the children.
The administrator of the day care center must notify the parents of an enrolled child when such child has been exposed to a diagnosed or suspected case of communicable disease that is transmitted through normal contact. The parents of the child must be immediately notified the child becomes ill or is injured seriously enough to require professional medical treatment.
Parents must be permitted to visit and observe a child at anytime during the center’s hours of operation, unless access to the child is prohibited or restricted by the court. The day care center must allow parent and staff communication regarding the child’s adjustment to the program of the center and the child’s growth and development.
A copy of the child care policies of the day care center must be made available to the parents in areas of the center that are accessible to the parents.
The day care center must maintain a file of each employee which must be made available for review by the licensing representative of the center. The employee’s file must include all of the following:
- The employee’s name, address, date of birth, education, position, work experience in child care, and the name, address and telephone numbers of the employee’s emergency contact. The center can use Department’s form CFS-0053, Child Care Staff Record, or the licensee’s own form.
- A background information disclosure form that must be completed prior to the employee’s date of employment and every four years thereafter. Department’s form HFS – 64, Background Information Disclosure, is to be used.
- A complete caregiver background check, including the result of any subsequent investigation related to information obtained in the background check.
- A report of the employee’s physical examination..
- Documentation of the employee’s education qualifications for his current position in the center. Included also are the orientation for the position and continuing education.
The day care center must maintain a current written record obtained during the child’s first attendance or subsequent re-enrollment at the center. The records must be made available to the licensing representative upon request. Each child record must include all of the following:
- Enrollment information that includes the following:
- The name and the date of birth of the child
- The full names of the child’s parents.
- The home address and telephone number of the child.
- The address and telephone number where the parent can be reached while the child is in the child care center.
- The name, address, telephone number, and relationship to the child of a person to be notified in an emergency when a parent cannot be immediately reached.
- The name, address, and telephone number of a physician or medical facility providing care for the child.
- The names, addresses, and telephone numbers of persons other than a parent who are authorized to call for the child or accept the child who is dropped off.
- The first day of attendance by child in the center.
- For infant or toddler, a statement from the parent about the infant or toddler’s habits of eating, sleeping, toileting, and communication that are comfortable to the child.
- Written consent from the parent for the child’s emergency medical care or treatment.
- Written authorization from the parent to transport the child to and from the center when transportation arrangement is included in the service.
- Written authorization from the parent for the child’s participation, including transportation, to field trips and other activities.
- Written authorization from the parent outlining the plan for a school-age child to come to the center from school, home or other activities and to go from the center to school, home, or other activities.
- Documentation of a child’s health history on a department-provided form.
- Specific written consent from the parent for each incident of participation by a child in any research or testing project.
The day care center must maintain a written record of the daily attendance of the child throughout the child’s enrollment in the center. The hours and arrival of the child is to be recorded if the arrival and departure vary among children.
A log for medication and injury shall be maintained by the day care center for any injury sustained by a child and for medication dispensed to a child.
Child Abuse Reporting
A licensee, employee or volunteer at a day care center who is aware or who has reasonable cause to suspect that a child has been abuse or neglected must immediately contact the county department of social services or human services or a local law enforcement agency to report such incidence or suspected incidence of child abuse or neglect.
The licensee must ensure that all employees and volunteers who are in contact with children at the center has received training every two years in child abuse and neglect law, ways of identifying children who have abuse or neglected, and the procedure for ensuring that known or suspected cases of child abuse or neglect are immediately reported to the proper authorities.
All child care workers, which include the center administrator, center director, child care teachers, assistant teachers, and volunteer, must be physically, mentally, and emotionally able to provide responsible care for children.
The child care center must have the following staff:
- Administrator – The administrator must be at least 21 years of age, must have completed high school or its equivalent as determined by the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction. He must have a previous one year experience as a manager or must have completed a one credit approved course in business or program administration, and a one year experience as a center director or child care teacher in a licensed child care center or kindergarten or must have completed a one non-credit department approved course in early childhood education or its equivalent.
- Center Director – The licensee, or a designated person, can act as center director. The center director will be responsible for the supervision of the planning and implementation of the center’s program for children, the supervision of the staff, staff meetings and orientation, and continuing education of the staff. The center director must be at least 21 years of age, must have completed high school or its equivalent, and must have completed or obtained experience and training required by the Department ( Table 46.05-A of the Administrative Code).
- Child Care Teacher – A child care teacher shall plan, implement and supervise the daily activities for a group of children in the center. A child care teacher must be at least 18 years of age, must have completed high school or its equivalent, and must possess the training and experience required by the Department.
- Assistant child care teacher – An assistant child care teacher must work under the supervision of a child care teacher with a group of children. He must be at least 18 years of age, must have completed a one non-credit department-approved course in early childhood education, and must have completed an assistant child care teacher training program approved by the Wisconsin department of public instruction.
- Substitutes – A substitute must be readily available in the absence from the center of a regular employee. The substitute must have the qualifications of the position in which he is to work as a substitute or be currently enrolled in training to meet those qualifications.
Staff members who work directly with children must have a health examination within 12 months prior to beginning work at the day care center or within 30 days after beginning work at the center. The examination results must be dated and signed by a licensed physician and must indicate that the person is free from any communicable disease which may present a safety or health risk to the children, including tuberculosis, and which is transmitted through normal contact. The report must indicate that the person is physically able to work with young children.
The child care center must develop and implement a written orientation program which all new employees must complete and document within the first of work at the center. The orientation program will cover the following:
- Review of the Department rules on day care centers.
- Review of the policies of the center.
- Review of the center’s contingency plans on fire and tornado, evacuation plans, and the operation of fire extinguishers.
- First-aid procedures.
- Job responsibilities of each employee in relation to the job description.
- Training on how to recognize illnesses and infectious disease control, including universal precautions for handling body fluids.
- Schedule of the center’s activities.
- Review of laws on child abuse and neglect, including reporting procedures.
- Procedure for ensuring that child care workers know the children assigned to their care and their whereabouts at all time.
- Techniques on child management.
- Information sharing procedure related to a child’s special health care needs.
- Review of procedures to reduce the risk of sudden death syndrome, if the center is licensed to care for children under one year of age.
Each center must conduct staff meetings at least nine times in one calendar year in order to ensure that staff have the opportunity to receive pertinent information and clarification of problems and issues.
The staff members of a child care center, from the director down to the assistant child care teacher and substitutes must be involved in a continuing education program to enable them to provide better care and service to the children enrolled at the center.
PHYSICAL PLANT AND EQUIPMENT
The building in which the center is located must comply with the applicable state and local building codes. The center must maintain an inspection report of the building, which specifies that the building meets the provisions of the Wisconsin Commercial Building Codes for use as a group child care center. Local authorities must be consulted to obtain any required zoning clearance or building permits. The Department must be given a written notice of proposed construction, remodeling of existing space or any change in room use prior to the initiation of change or renovation.
The indoor and outdoor premises of the child care center must be free of hazards to the health and safety of the children. The following shall be observed:
- Steam radiators, fireplaces, stoves, electric outlets and appliances, electrical heating units and hot surfaces, must be protected by screens or guards so that children cannot touch them.
- Potentially dangerous items such as firearms and ammunitions must not be kept on the premises.
- Materials harmful to children, such as power tools, drugs, and other articles, must be kept in properly marked containers and stored in areas that are beyond the reach of children.
- A motor vehicle must be immediately available at the center at all times in case emergency or rescue vehicles cannot arrive at the center within 10 minutes after making a call.
- The center must have a working telephone or access to a working telephone during hours of operations.
- Stairs, walks, ramps and porches must be maintained in safe condition, free from the accumulation of water, ice or snow.
- Smoking must not be allowed in the center when the children are present.
- Children must not be allowed in areas where power tools are in use.
- Consumption of alcoholic beverages or non-prescribed controlled substances must not be allowed in the premises of the center.
A day care center must have a written plan for responding to a fire, tornado, a tornado warning or any other emergency. The written plan must be posted in conspicuous places in the center and must be implemented monthly. Each staff member must have an assigned duty in case of an emergency. Written records of emergency drills or practice must be maintained in the center.
The center must have a fire protection procedure in place. Fire extinguishers, which are operable at all times, must be available in conspicuous places of the building. All staff members must be instructed in and knowledgeable on the use of the fire extinguishers. Every floor of the building must have at least two exits that must be unobstructed by furniture or other objects. All exits must be lighted at all times. The building must have fire alarms and smoke detectors that are in good working condition.
Sanitation and Water Supply
The premises of the child care center must be maintained clean and in good repair and must be free of litter. There must be no flaking or deteriorating paint on exterior and interior surfaces in areas that are accessible to children. Lead-based paint or other toxic finishing materials must not be used in the facility.
Garbage containers must be rigid, covered and watertight, and must be emptied on a daily basis or more often as needed. Garbage stored outdoors must be in leak-proof containers with tight-fitting covers and must be disposed of as necessary to prevent decomposition or overflow.
Furnishings, toys, cots, and other equipment must be washed or cleaned when soiled. Eating surfaces must be washed and sanitized before and after each use. Toilet rooms and fixtures must be maintained in a sanitary condition at all times. Windows and doors that are used for ventilation must be screened. The premises must be free of vermin and rodents.
A safe supply of drinking water must be made available to children at all times from drinking fountains or by use of disposable cups. The center must not permit common use of drinking cups.
Water samples from the well must be tested annually for lead and bacteria by a certified laboratory and must be found to be bacteriologically safe. The center must make available to the Department the laboratory report upon request. Bottled water shall be used if the water supply turned out to be unsafe for drinking and the water supply shall be treated and re-tested until it is determined to be safe.
Indoor Space and Furnishings
Each child must be allotted no less than 35 square feet of usable floor space, excluding passageways, kitchens, bathrooms, offices, storage areas, isolation quarters, and other parts of the building that are not available at all times for use by the children.
Furnishings must be durable and safe, with no sharp, rough, loose or pointed edges. Tables and chairs must be age-appropriate and comfortable to the children. Shelves must be provided for equipment and supplies in rooms that are used by the children. Equipment and supplies must be arranged in an orderly manner so that children may select, use, and replace them. There must be sufficient storage space for the clothing and personal belongings of the children.
All equipment and utensils in the kitchen must have smooth, hard surfaces, be easily cleanable, in good repair, durable, non-toxic and free of cracks and chips. They must be maintained in clean and sanitary condition. After cleaning, utensils must be stored in clean, dry place and protected from contamination. Single-service utensils must be non-toxic, clean and must not be reused.
All kitchen utensils and food contact surfaces used for preparation, storage or serving of food must be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized after each use. All utensils and dishes must be scraped, sorted and prewashed under running water. Dishes and utensils must be washed, manually or mechanically, using Department approved procedures. Dishes and utensils must be air-dried in racks or baskets, or on drain boards.
Food must be clean, wholesome, free from spoilage, free from adulteration or misbranding and must be safe for human consumption. Food must be purchased from an inspected source or supplier.
Food must be stored at temperatures which protect them against spoilage. Foods not requiring refrigeration must be stored in clean, dry, ventilated and lighted storerooms or areas which must be free from contamination by sewage, wastewater backflow, condensation, leakage or vermin.
Poisonous and toxic materials, including cleaning supplies, must be labeled and stored in cabinets exclusively for these materials and must be inaccessible to children.
Raw fruits and vegetables must be washed before being served or cooked. Food returned from individual plates or from dining tables must be discarded. Food delivery vehicles must be equipped with clean containers or cabinets to store food while in transit. Potentially hazardous frozen foods must be thawed in the refrigerator under cold running water . No potentially hazardous frozen food may be thawed by leaving it at room temperature.
Personnel who help prepare meals must be at least 18 years of age, must wear clothing and effective hair restraints such hair nets or caps, and must wash their hands with soap and running water before starting to work, before and after handling food, and after using the toilet.
Outdoor Play Space
A child care center must have outdoor play space if the children are present for more than 3 hours a day or if outdoor play is included in the center’s program. The outdoor play space must be on the premises of the center and must provide at least 75 square feet of outdoor space for each child 2 years of age or older. The total outdoor play space of a center must accommodate not less than a third of the number of children for which the center is licensed or a minimum of 750 square feet, whichever is greater. The outdoor play space must be well-drained and must be free of hazards such as uncovered wells, cisterns and unused appliances.
The child care center must have a written program of activities that must be suitable for the developmental level of each group of children. The program must provide each child with experiences that will promote all of the following:
- Self-esteem and positive self image.
- Social interaction.
- Self-expression and communication skills.
- Creative expression.
- Large and small muscle development.
- Intellectual growth.
The child care center must have a written policy which provides for positive guidance, redirection and the setting of clear-cut limits for children. The policy must be designed to help a child develop self-control, self-esteem and respect for the rights of others.
The child care center may provide transportation or center-contracted transportation, including regularly scheduled transportation to and from the center and transportation for field trips that are under the auspices of the center.
The center is responsible for a child between the time the child is picked up until the child is delivered to the parent or to a responsible person designated by the parent.
The driver of a center-provided vehicle must have the following requirements:
- At least 18 years of age.
- A valid Wisconsin operator’s license for the type of vehicle driven.
- At least one year experience as a licensed driver.
The vehicle to be used must be registered in Wisconsin, must be clean, uncluttered and free of obstructions on the floors, aisles and seats, and must be enclosed.
FIND A DAYCARE OR CHILD CARE IN WISCONSIN
- Cedar Rapids
- De Pere
- Eau Claire
- Fond du Lac
- Grand Chute
- Green Bay
- La Crosse
- Menomonee Falls
- Mount Pleasant
- New Berlin
- Oak Creek
- Pleasant Prairie
- South Milwaukee
- Stevens Point
- Sun Prairie
- West Allis
- West Bend
STATE LICENSING CONTACT
Bureau of Regulation and Licensing
1 West Wilson Street, Room 534
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 266-9314
Web Page: http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/childcare/