Early Care and Education

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) aims to provide access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education experiences, to enhance our children's development, and to support their families in work and parenting roles.

Information on Wisconsin Child Care Providers and Programs Supporting Families

Regulated Child Care and YoungStar Public Search

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families' public search of regulated child care and YoungStar-rated programs allows parents to search for safe, quality child care in Wisconsin. Many providers are rated by YoungStar so that you can know how they measure up against research-based quality indicators.

YoungStar and other Quality Child Care Initiatives

YoungStar is a program of the Department of Children and Families created to improve the quality of child care for Wisconsin children. Now, in addition to talking to other parents and consulting with child care resource and referral programs, you can "look for the stars" when selecting a child care provider.
Other programs to improve child care quality are also included such as a statewide child care resource and referral network, scholarship and bonus program, and proactive licensing and monitoring.

Wisconsin Shares – Child Care Subsidy Program

Provides financial child care assistance to low-income parents who are working or preparing to enter the workforce. Administered by the Department of Children and Families in Milwaukee (Milwaukee Early Care Administration - MECA) and by counties or tribal human service agencies in the balance-of-state.

Wisconsin Shares Anti-Fraud Actions

Head Start Collaboration Office

The Head Start State Collaboration Office plays an important role in building partnerships at the state and local level to ensure Head Start's participation in systems-integration strategies to benefit low-income children and families.

Other Child Care Resources

Information addressing all areas listed above, as well as training opportunities, the WI Child Care Development Fund and e-mail subscription lists.


Information About Child Care Regulation

Child Care Licensing

Information on statewide licensure of Wisconsin's child care facilities (including family child care, group child care and day camps). The purpose is to promote the health, safety and welfare of children in licensed child care.

Child Care Certification

State law requires counties and tribes to certify providers who receive public funding but are exempt from the licensing law. Most counties have made certification available for all family child care providers, whether or not public funding is involved. DCF publicizes rules establishing standards for the certification of child care providers.

Head Start Collaboration Office

The Head Start State Collaboration Office plays an important role in building partnerships at the state and local level to ensure Head Start’s participation in systems-integration strategies to benefit low-income children and families.

Milwaukee Early Care Administration

Milwaukee Early Care Administration (MECA) mission is to promote excellence in early childhood care and education in Milwaukee County. MECA works closely with the community to train, certify, and monitor family child care providers.

Other Child Care Resources

Information addressing all areas listed above, as well as training opportunities, the WI Child Care Development Fund and e-mail subscription lists.

Child Care Development Fund (CCDF) Plan


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.