Chapter DCF 251
DCF 251.01   Authority and purpose.
DCF 251.02   Applicability.
DCF 251.03   Definitions.
DCF 251.04   Operational requirements.
DCF 251.05   Staff.
DCF 251.055   Supervision and grouping of children.
DCF 251.06   Physical plant and equipment.
DCF 251.07   Program.
DCF 251.08   Transportation.
DCF 251.09   Additional requirements for infant and toddler care.
DCF 251.094   Staff in school-age programs.
DCF 251.095   Additional requirements, modifications, and exceptions for school-age programs.
DCF 251.10   Additional requirements for night care.
DCF 251.11   Licensing administration.
DCF 251.12   Complaints, inspections and enforcement actions.
DCF 251.13   Programs established or contracted for by school boards.
Ch. DCF 251 Note Note: Corrections made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, January, 1997, No. 493. Corrections made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats., Register, September, 1998, No. 513. Chapter HFS 46 was renumbered to chapter DCF 251 under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 1., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635.
DCF 251.01 DCF 251.01Authority and purpose. This chapter is promulgated under the authority of s. 48.67, Stats., to establish licensing requirements under s. 48.65, Stats., for group child care centers for children. The purpose of this chapter is to protect the health, safety and welfare of children being cared for in group child care centers.
DCF 251.01 History History: Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; CR 03-052: am. Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05; CR 07-102: am. Register December 2008 No. 636, eff. 1-1-09.
DCF 251.02 DCF 251.02Applicability.
DCF 251.02(1)(1)Included and excluded care arrangements. This chapter applies to all group child care centers, whether the facility in which the child care and supervision are provided is known as a day care center, nursery school or preschool, head start or school-age child care program, or by any other designation, but it does not apply to the following:
DCF 251.02(1)(a) (a) Care and supervision of children in a program, including religious education classes, which operates no more than 4 hours a week.
DCF 251.02(1)(b) (b) Group lessons to develop a talent or skill, such as dance or music lessons, social group meetings and activities and group athletic activities.
DCF 251.02(1)(c) (c) Care and supervision while the child's parent is on the premises and is engaged in shopping, recreation or other non-work activities.
DCF 251.02(1)(d) (d) Care and supervision provided at the site to the child of a recipient of temporary assistance to needy families or Wisconsin works who is involved in orientation, enrollment or initial assessment prior to the development of an employability plan or the child care is provided where parents are provided training or counseling.
DCF 251.02(1)(e) (e) Seasonal programs of 10 days or less duration in any 3-month period, including day camps, vacation bible schools and holiday child care programs.
DCF 251.02(1)(f) (f) Care and supervision in emergency situations.
DCF 251.02(1)(g) (g) Care and supervision while the child's parent is employed on the premises if the child receives care and supervision for no more than 3 hours a day.
DCF 251.02 Note Note: Section 48.65, Stats., exempts parents, guardians and certain other relatives; public and parochial (private) schools; persons who come to the home of the child's parent to provide care for less than 24 hours per day; and counties, cities, villages, towns, school districts, and libraries that provide programs for children primarily intended for social or recreational purposes from the requirement of a license.
DCF 251.02(2) (2)Exception to a requirement. The department may grant an exception to a requirement of this chapter when it is demonstrated to the satisfaction of the department that granting the exception will not jeopardize the health, safety or welfare of any child served by the center. A request for an exception shall be in writing, shall be sent to the department and shall include justification for the requested action and a description of any alternative provision planned to meet the intent of the requirement.
DCF 251.02 Note Note: A request for an exception to a requirement of this chapter should be sent to the licensing representative at the appropriate field office of the Department's Division of Early Care and Education. See Appendix A for addresses of the regional offices.
DCF 251.02 History History: Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; correction in (1) (d) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats.; CR 03-052: am. (1) (intro.) and (d) Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05.
DCF 251.03 DCF 251.03Definitions. In this chapter:
DCF 251.03(1g) (1g) “ Abusive head trauma” means a serious type of head injury, including shaken baby syndrome, that is caused by shaking, throwing, hitting, slamming, or jerking.
DCF 251.03(1r) (1r)“Administrator" means the person responsible to the licensee for management of the group child care center.
DCF 251.03(2) (2)“Assistant child care teacher” means a child care worker who works under the supervision of a child care teacher and who meets the qualifications under s. DCF 251.05 (3) (g).
DCF 251.03(2m) (2m) “ Background check request form” means a form prescribed by the department on which a person completes required information for the child care background check under s. 48.686, Stats., and ch. DCF 13.
DCF 251.03 Note Note: Form DCF-F-5296, Background Check Request, is available on the department's website,
DCF 251.03(3) (3)“Care" means providing for the safety and the developmental needs of a child in a group child care center.
DCF 251.03(4) (4)“Center director” means the person who is responsible to the licensee for the supervision of the center's program for children and for the supervision of the center's staff and who meets the qualifications under s. DCF 251.05 (3) (e).
DCF 251.03(4g) (4g)“Center-provided transportation" means transportation provided in a vehicle owned, leased or contracted for by the center or in volunteer or staff-owned vehicles regardless of whether the driver is reimbursed for the use of the vehicle.
DCF 251.03(4m) (4m)“Center-provided vehicle" means a vehicle owned or leased by the center or a vehicle owned by the licensee or an employee that is used to transport children, but does not include a vehicle owned and driven by a parent or volunteer.
DCF 251.03(4r) (4r) “ Child care background check” means the requirements in s. 48.686, Stats., and ch. DCF 13.
DCF 251.03(5) (5)“Child care teacher” means a child care worker who plans, implements, and supervises the daily activities for a designated group of children and who meets the qualifications under s. DCF 251.05 (3) (f).
DCF 251.03(6) (6)“Child care worker” means in a group child care center, a child care teacher or assistant child care teacher, or in a school-age program, a school-age program leader or school-age group leader.
DCF 251.03(8) (8)“Complaint" means an allegation that a provision of this chapter or of ch. 48, Stats., has been violated.
DCF 251.03(8g) (8g) “Credit” means recognition for completing a course from an institution of higher education.
DCF 251.03(8r) (8r)“Crib" means a bed for an infant or young child that is enclosed on 4 sides including play pens and portable cribs.
DCF 251.03(9) (9)“Department" means the Wisconsin department of children and families.
DCF 251.03(10) (10)“Division" means the department's division of early care and education.
DCF 251.03(10g) (10g) “Early childhood education” means the teaching of children who are 8 years of age or less.
DCF 251.03(10m) (10m)“Emergency” means unforeseen circumstances that require immediate attention.
DCF 251.03(10s) (10s)“EPSDT provider" means a provider of health assessment and evaluation services that is eligible to be certified under s. DHS 105.37 (1) (a).
DCF 251.03(11) (11)“Field trip" means any experience a child has away from the premises of the center, while under the care of center staff, whether a child walks or is transported.
DCF 251.03(11g) (11g)“Fit and qualified" means displaying the capacity to successfully nurture and care for children and may include consideration of any of the following:
DCF 251.03(11g)(a) (a) Abuse of alcohol or drugs.
DCF 251.03(11g)(b) (b) A history of a civil or criminal conviction or administrative rule violation that is substantially related to the care of children, as determined under s. DCF 13.05.
DCF 251.03(11g)(c) (c) Exercise of unsound judgment.
DCF 251.03(11g)(d) (d) A history of civil or criminal offenses or any other action that demonstrate an inability to manage financial resources or the activities of a center.
DCF 251.03(11r) (11r)“Full day center" means a center that accepts children for care for 5 or more consecutive hours in a day.
DCF 251.03(12) (12)“Group" means a specific number of children who have a regularly assigned child care worker and who are cared for in the same self-contained room or area at the center.
DCF 251.03(13) (13)“Group child care center" or “center" means a facility where a person for less than 24 hours a day provides care and supervision for 9 or more children who are not related to the provider.
DCF 251.03(13m) (13m)“Hazard" means a potential source of harm that can jeopardize the health, safety or well-being of children in care.
DCF 251.03(14) (14)  “Hours of operation” means the hours within the terms of the license during which children are actually in the care of the center.
DCF 251.03(14g) (14g)“In care” means the center is providing supervision, either on or off the premises, including during center-provided transportation, for the safety and the developmental needs of the child or children.
DCF 251.03(14r) (14r)“Inclement weather" means stormy or severe weather such as any of the following:
DCF 251.03(14r)(a) (a) Heavy rain.
DCF 251.03(14r)(b) (b) Temperatures above 90 degrees Fahrenheit.
DCF 251.03(14r)(c) (c) Wind chills of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below for children age 2 and above.
DCF 251.03(14r)(d) (d) Wind chills of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below for children under age 2.
DCF 251.03(15) (15)“Infant" means a child under one year of age.
DCF 251.03(16) (16)“Institution of higher education" means an educational institution which meets all of the following criteria except, in the case of a business school or technical institution, par. (c):
DCF 251.03(16)(a) (a) Admits as regular students only persons having a certificate of graduation from a school providing secondary education, or the recognized equivalent of such a certificate;
DCF 251.03(16)(b) (b) Is legally authorized to provide a program of education beyond secondary education;
DCF 251.03(16)(c) (c) Provides an education program for which it awards a bachelor's degree or provides not less than a 2-year program which is acceptable for full credit toward that degree; and
DCF 251.03(16)(d) (d) Is accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency or association or, if not accredited, is an institution whose credits are accepted, on transfer, by not less than 3 institutions which are accredited, for credit on the same basis as if transferred from an institution that is accredited.
DCF 251.03(16m) (16m) “Licensed hours” means the authorized hours specified on the license certificate and letter of transmittal within which the center may provide child care services.
DCF 251.03(17) (17)“Licensee” means the corporation, individual, partnership, limited liability company, or non-incorporated association or cooperative that has legal and financial responsibility for the operation of a child care center and for meeting the requirements of this chapter.
DCF 251.03(18) (18)“Licensing representative" means a department employee responsible for licensing group child care centers.
DCF 251.03(19) (19)“Night care” means any care that is offered by a licensed group child care center between 10:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m.
DCF 251.03(20) (20)“Parent" means either “parent" as defined in s. 48.02 (13), Stats., or “guardian" as defined in s. 48.02 (8), Stats.
DCF 251.03(21) (21)“Parent cooperative" means a center organized by parents for their preschool children in which the parents have decision-making authority to establish and change policy, program and personnel practices.
DCF 251.03(22) (22)“Parochial or private school" means an educational program which meets all the criteria specified under s. 118.165 (1), Stats., or as determined by the superintendent of public instruction under s. 118.167, Stats.
DCF 251.03(22g) (22g)“Part day center" means a center where a defined group of children attend for a specified period of time that is less than 5 consecutive hours in length.
DCF 251.03(22r) (22r)“Physical Restraint" means the use of physical force to restrict the free movement of all or part of a child's body.
DCF 251.03(23) (23)“Physician" has the meaning prescribed in s. 448.01 (5), Stats.
Published under s. 35.93, Stats. Updated on the first day of each month. Entire code is always current. The Register date on each page is the date the chapter was last published.