Alert! This chapter may be affected by an emergency rule:
DCF 251.03(29g) (29g) “Substitute" means a person who replaces a regularly scheduled person and meets the requirements under s. DCF 251.05 (1) (j).
DCF 251.03(29m) (29m) “Sudden infant death syndrome" or “SIDS" means the sudden death of an infant under one year of age that remains unexplained after a thorough case investigation, including performance of a complete autopsy, examination of the death scene and a review of the clinical history.
DCF 251.03(30) (30) “Supervision of children" means guidance of the behavior and activities of children for their health, safety and well-being by child care workers who are within sight and sound of the children.
DCF 251.03(31) (31) “Supervision of staff" means guidance of the behavior and activities of center employees which may include provision of instructions to carry out activities for limited periods of time out of sight or hearing of the supervisor.
DCF 251.03(32) (32) “Toddler" means a child at least one year of age but less than 2 years of age.
DCF 251.03(33) (33) “Universal precautions" means measures taken to prevent transmission of infection from contact with blood or other potentially infectious material, as recommended by the U.S. public health services centers for disease control and adopted by the U.S. occupational safety and health administration (OSHA) as 29 CFR 1910.1030.
DCF 251.03 Note Note: “Standard precautions" for infection control measures incorporate universal precautions. Information on the OSHA requirements related to standard or universal precautions is available on the OSHA web site at Information is also available from the Child Care Information Center, 1-800-362-7353.
DCF 251.03(34) (34) “Volunteer" means a person who is not paid, but agrees to give time, with or without reimbursement for expenses, to transport children attending a group child care center or to work in a group child care center.
DCF 251.03(35) (35) “Wading pool" means a shallow pool, with sides 15 inches or less in height, capable of being dumped to change water and used primarily for small children.
DCF 251.03 History History: Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; correction in (22) made under s. 13.93 (2m) (b) 7., Stats.; CR 03-052: am. (1), (3), (6), (13), (17), (18), (19), (33) and (34), cr. (3m), (4m), (8m), (10m), (11g), (11r), (14g), (14r), (18m), (22g), (22r), (26m), (29m) and (35), r. (7) Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05; corrections in (2), (3m), (4), (5), (9), (10), (11g) (b), (14) and (18m) made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 6. and 7., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635; CR 07-102: cr. (4g), (8r), (11g) (d), (13m), (28m) and (29g), am. (11), (11g) (intro.), (14r) (b) to (d) and (34) Register December 2008 No. 636, eff. 1-1-09; correction in (29g) made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7., Stats., Register December 2008 No. 636; 2015 Wis. Act 132: am. (2), (4), (5) Register February 2016 No. 722, eff. 3-1-16; corrections in (2) and (11g) (b) made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7., Stats., Register September 2016 No. 729.
DCF 251.04 DCF 251.04Operational requirements.
DCF 251.04(1) (1)Terms of a license.
DCF 251.04(1)(a)(a) The number of children at a group child care center at any one time may not exceed the number for which the center is licensed.
DCF 251.04(1)(b) (b) The age of children served by a center may not be younger or older than the age range specified in the license.
DCF 251.04(1)(c) (c) The hours, days and months of a center's operation may not exceed those specified in the license.
DCF 251.04(2) (2)Administration. A group child care center licensee shall do all of the following:
DCF 251.04(2)(a) (a) Comply with all laws governing the facility and its operation.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: Under the state public accommodation law, s. 106.52 (3), Stats., as well as federal statutes and regulations related to use of federal funding, and some local anti-discrimination ordinances, denying admission on the basis of race, handicap, religion or certain other characteristics may be illegal.
DCF 251.04(2)(b) (b) Comply with all requirements of this chapter.
DCF 251.04(2)(c) (c) Ensure that all information provided to the department is current and accurate.
DCF 251.04(2)(d) (d) If residing in another state, designate in writing, as part of the application under s. DCF 251.12 (2), a Wisconsin resident who is responsible on behalf of the licensee for ensuring compliance with all requirements of this chapter.
DCF 251.04(2)(e) (e) Meet, upon request of the department, with a licensing representative on matters pertaining to the license.
DCF 251.04(2)(f) (f) Prior to receiving or continuing a license, complete all application forms and pay all fees and forfeitures due to the department.
DCF 251.04(2)(g) (g) Submit to the department a certificate of insurance reflecting
DCF 251.04(2)(g)1. 1. current dates of coverage for all of the following:
DCF 251.04(2)(g)1.a. a. General liability insurance which provides coverage with limits of not less than $25,000 for each person and total limits of $75,000 for each occurrence.
DCF 251.04(2)(g)1.b. b. Vehicle liability insurance, when transportation is provided by the center, with minimums no less than those specified in s. 121.53, Stats.
DCF 251.04(2)(g)1.c. c. Non-owned vehicle liability insurance when transportation is provided in vehicles not owned by the center, excluding public transportation vehicles and chartered vehicles, with minimums no less than those specified in s. 121.53, Stats.
DCF 251.04(2)(g)2. 2. An indication that pets are included in the liability coverage if cats or dogs are permitted in areas of the center accessible to children during the hours of operation.
DCF 251.04(2)(h) (h) Develop, submit to the department for review and implement written policies on the following subjects:
DCF 251.04(2)(h)1. 1. Fee payments and refunds.
DCF 251.04(2)(h)2. 2. Personnel, including job descriptions, hours of work, lunch and break times, holidays, vacations, sick leaves, leaves of absence, probationary periods, performance evaluations, grievance procedures and the disciplinary process. The personnel policy shall contain a procedure that requires staff to notify the licensee and the licensee to notify the department as soon as possible but no later than the next business day when any of the following occurs:
DCF 251.04(2)(h)2.a. a. The employee has been convicted of a crime.
DCF 251.04(2)(h)2.b. b. The employee has been or is being investigated by any governmental agency for any other act, offense, or omission, including an investigation related to the abuse or neglect or threat of abuse or neglect, to a child or other client, or an investigation related to misappropriation of a client's property.
DCF 251.04(2)(h)2.c. c. The employee has a substantiated governmental finding against them for abuse or neglect of a child or adult or for misappropriation of a client's property.
DCF 251.04(2)(h)2.d. d. When a professional license held by an employee has been denied, revoked, restricted or otherwise limited.
DCF 251.04(2)(h)3. 3. Discharge of enrolled children.
DCF 251.04(2)(i) (i) Develop, submit to the department for approval and implement as approved written policies and plans, consistent with the requirements of this chapter, on the following subjects:
DCF 251.04(2)(i)1. 1. Admission.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)2. 2. Health care. If the center is licensed to care for children under one year of age, Sudden Infant Death Syndrome risk reduction procedures shall be included.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)3. 3. Education.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)4. 4. Nutrition.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)5. 5. Child guidance including appropriate ways to manage crying, fussing or distraught children.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)6. 6. Contingency plans to be followed in the event of a fire, tornado, missing child or other emergency.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)7. 7. Continuing education of staff.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)8. 8. Orientation of new staff and volunteers.
DCF 251.04(2)(i)9. 9. Transportation, if the center will transport children either on field trips or on a regular schedule. The policy shall include a procedure to ensure that no child is left unattended in a vehicle.
DCF 251.04(2)(j) (j) Ensure that all published statements such as brochures and publicity releases are accurate.
DCF 251.04(2)(k) (k) Post the child care license near the entrance or in some other conspicuous area of the center that is visible to the public.
DCF 251.04(2)(L) (L) Post next to the child care center license the results of the most recent licensing inspection, including any rule violations cited by the department and any notice of enforcement action including, license revocation or denial and any stipulations, conditions, exceptions, or exemptions that affect the license.
DCF 251.04(2)(m) (m) Ensure that any action, by commission or omission, or any condition or occurrence relating to the operation or maintenance of the child care center does not adversely affect the health, safety or welfare of any child under the care of the licensee.
DCF 251.04(2)(n) (n) Submit to the department by the department's next business day a completed Background Information Disclosure form and appropriate caregiver background check fees when there is a change in the board chairperson or a person aged 10 and above becomes a household member.
DCF 251.04(2)(o) (o) Submit to the department by the department's next business day a completed Background Information Disclosure form for each current household member who turns age 10.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: For more information about caregiver background checks refer to the administrative rule under ch. DCF 12. Information on how to obtain a copy of the Background Information Disclosure form is available on the department's website,, or from any regional licensing office in Appendix A.
DCF 251.04(2)(p) (p) Submit a current delegation of administrative authority signed by the licensee that outlines the organizational structure and designates, in a chain of command form, those persons on the premises in charge of the center for all hours of operation.
DCF 251.04(3) (3)Reports. The licensee shall report to the department all of the following. If the report is made by telephone, the licensee shall submit a written report to the appropriate regional licensing office within 5 business days of the incident. Fax, e-mail, and letter are acceptable ways of filing a written report:
DCF 251.04(3)(a) (a) Any death of a child in the care of the center or any incident or accident that occurs while the child is in the care of the center that results in an injury that requires professional medical treatment within 48 hours of the licensee becoming aware of the medical treatment.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: The licensee may use either the department's form, Accident Report — Child Care Centers, or the licensee's own form to report incidents, accidents or deaths. Information on how to obtain the department's form is available on the department's website,, or from any regional licensing office in Appendix A.
DCF 251.04(3)(b) (b) Any damage to the premises which may affect compliance with this chapter, within 24 hours after the occurrence.
DCF 251.04(3)(c) (c) A change in the administrator or center director of a child care center, within 30 days after the change.
DCF 251.04(3)(d) (d) A change of any program service, at least 5 days prior to the change.
DCF 251.04(3)(e) (e) Statistical data required by the department on forms provided by the department.
DCF 251.04(3)(f) (f) If requested by the department, a plan of correction for cited violations of this chapter or ch. 48, Stats., in a format specified by the department. The department shall receive the plan of correction by the date the department specifies and be approved by the department licensing representative.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: The licensing representative will notify the licensee if a plan of correction is required and provide the plan of correction format with the notification.
DCF 251.04(3)(g) (g) Any known convictions, pending charges or other offenses of the licensee, child care center employees or other person subject to a caregiver background check which could potentially relate to the care of children at the center or activities of the center by the department's next business day.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: See s. DCF 251.04 (8) on reporting suspected child abuse, s. DCF 251.04 (6) (c) on maintaining a center medical log book and s. DCF 251.07 (6) (a) 2. on logging injuries in a center medical log.
DCF 251.04(3)(h) (h) Any change in room usage, such as changing the way rooms are primarily used by children or using rooms not previously approved for use at least 20 working days prior to the change. Changes in room usage shall be approved by the department prior to the change.
DCF 251.04(3)(i) (i) Any incident related to a child who leaves the premises of the center without the knowledge of the provider or any incident that results in a provider not knowing the whereabouts of a child in attendance at the center within 24 hours of the occurrence.
DCF 251.04(3)(j) (j) Any suspected abuse or neglect of a child by an employee or volunteer that was reported under s. DCF 251.04 (8) (a) or any inappropriate discipline of a child by an employee or volunteer including any incident that results in a child being forcefully shaken or thrown against a surface, hard or soft, during the child's hours of attendance within 24 hours after the occurrence.
DCF 251.04(3)(k) (k) Any incident involving law enforcement within 24 hours after the occurrence that:
DCF 251.04(3)(k)1. 1. Involves a licensee, a household resident or an employee of the center in an incident that causes, or threatens to cause, physical or serious emotional harm to an individual, including a child in the care of the center.
DCF 251.04(3)(k)2. 2. Involves any traffic-related incident where a person responsible for the violation transports children in the care of the center.
DCF 251.04(3)(L) (L) Any construction or remodeling on the premises that has the potential to affect an area accessible to children or a condition of the license. Notification shall be provided in writing before the construction or remodeling begins.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: See s. DCF 251.11 (5) (a) for items that affect a condition of the license.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: It is recommended that the licensee check with the local municipality to determine whether a building permit is required before beginning any construction or remodeling.
DCF 251.04(3)(m) (m) Any confirmed case of a communicable disease reportable under ch. DHS 145 in a child enrolled at the child care center or a person in contact with children at the center within 48 hours.
DCF 251.04(3)(n) (n) Any change in meal preparation arrangements or transportation services at least 5 calendar days before the change. Centers adding meal preparation after an initial license has been issued shall document compliance with building codes related to kitchens before beginning to prepare meals on the premises.
DCF 251.04(4) (4)Parents.
DCF 251.04(4)(a)(a) The center administrator shall notify the parents of an enrolled child of all of the following:
DCF 251.04(4)(a)1. 1. When their child has been exposed to a diagnosed or suspected communicable disease reportable under ch. DHS 145 and transmitted through normal contact.
DCF 251.04(4)(a)2. 2. Immediately, if the child becomes ill or is injured seriously enough to require professional medical treatment.
DCF 251.04(4)(a)3. 3. When they pick up the child or when the child is delivered, if the child sustains a minor injury.
DCF 251.04(4)(a)4. 4. Of the date, time and destination of any field trip which requires the use of a vehicle.
DCF 251.04(4)(b) (b) The center shall permit parents to visit and observe at any time during the center's hours of operation, unless access is prohibited or restricted by court order.
DCF 251.04(4)(c) (c) The center shall make opportunities available at least twice each year for parent and staff communication regarding the child's adjustment to the program, and the child's growth and development.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: When a child care worker or a parent has concerns about a child's growth or development, a referral to a Birth-to-Three agency or the local public school should be considered to determine if the child is eligible for special services. Wisconsin has an information and referral service for persons with questions or concerns about a child's development called First Step that is available to the public 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. When a call is placed to First Step at 1-800-642-7837, the caller will learn about early intervention services as well as other related services in the area.
DCF 251.04(4)(d) (d) If religious training is part of the center program, reference to the religious component shall be included in any publicity and in the education policy. This information shall be shared with parents.
DCF 251.04(4)(e) (e) The center shall provide a summary of this chapter to the parents of each child upon the child's enrollment.
DCF 251.04 Note Note: Copies of a summary of this chapter may be obtained from the Child Care Information Center, 2109 S. Stoughton Rd., Madison, WI 53716, 1-800-362-7353.
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.