Alert! This chapter may be affected by an emergency rule:
DCF 251.05(2)(d) (d) Food service personnel orientation and training. The center shall provide food service personnel with the orientation under par. (a) and shall document annual training of at least 4 hours in kitchen sanitation, food handling and nutrition.
DCF 251.05(3) (3)Supervision.
DCF 251.05(3)(a)(a) At least one child care teacher shall supervise each group of children.
DCF 251.05(3)(b) (b) Assistant child care teachers who are at least 18 years of age and have completed the training required for the position may provide sole supervision to a group of children in full-day centers for opening and closing hours, not to exceed the first 2 hours and the last 2 hours of center operation.
DCF 251.05(3)(c) (c) Each child shall be closely supervised by a child care worker who is within the sight and sound of the children to guide the children's behavior and activities, prevent harm and assure safety.
DCF 251.05(3)(d) (d) A child care worker may not provide care to children at the center more than 10 hours in any 24-hour period.
DCF 251.05(3)(e) (e) A child may not be in care more than 12 hours in any 24-hour period.
DCF 251.05(3)(f) (f) The center shall implement a procedure to ensure that the number, names and whereabouts of children in care are known to assigned child care workers at all times.
DCF 251.05(3)(g) (g) A child may not be released to any person who has not been previously authorized by the parent.
DCF 251.05(3)(h) (h) The center shall implement a procedure to contact a parent if a child is absent from the center without prior notification from the parent.
DCF 251.05(3)(i) (i) No child shall be left in sole charge of a person under the age of 18.
DCF 251.05(4) (4)Staffing and grouping.
DCF 251.05(4)(a)(a) The maximum number of children in a group may not exceed the number specified in Table 251.05-D.
DCF 251.05(4)(b) (b) The ratio of child care workers to children may not be less than the minimum number of child care workers to children specified in Table 251.05-D. - See PDF for table PDF
DCF 251.05(4)(c) (c) When 8 or fewer children are present in a center, there shall be a second adult available within 5 minutes for emergencies. The center shall maintain a signed and dated statement from that person, including address and telephone number, certifying that the person is available and agrees to serve if needed.
DCF 251.05(4)(d) (d) Maximum group size does not apply to field trips, outdoor play areas and areas of the center reserved exclusively for eating, however staff-to-child ratios shall be maintained in those settings.
DCF 251.05(4)(e) (e) During naptime, an adjustment in group size and staff-to-child ratios in Table 251.05-D may be made as follows:
DCF 251.05(4)(e)1. 1. One child care worker shall be within sight or sound of each group of sleeping children. If at least one child is awake, sight and sound supervision of awake children is required.
DCF 251.05(4)(e)2. 2. Adult-to-child ratios shall be maintained in the center during naptime.
DCF 251.05(4)(e)3. 3. Maximum group size requirements do not apply to napping groups.
DCF 251.05(4)(f) (f) When there is a mixed-age group, the staff-to-child ratio shall be adjusted on a prorata basis, according to age.
DCF 251.05 Note Note: The licensee may use the department's form, Child Care Staff-To-Child Ratio Worksheet — Group Child Care Centers, to adjust the staff-to-child ratio. 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 251.05(4)(g) (g) When infants and toddlers are part of a mixed-age group, the size of the group may not exceed 8.
DCF 251.05(4)(h) (h) When the group of children is a mixed age group of children 2 years and older, the group size shall be determined by the number of children that can be cared for by 2 child care workers as determined by the staff-to-child prorata requirement under par. (f).
DCF 251.05(4)(i) (i) In a center with 9 or more children present, there shall be at least 2 adults available in the center at all times. At least one of the adults shall be a child care worker directly involved in the supervision and care of the children.
DCF 251.05(4)(j) (j) When 9 or more children are on a field trip there shall be at least 2 child care workers accompanying the children and the staff-to-child ratios in Table DCF 251.05-D shall be maintained. At least one of the child care workers shall be a child care teacher.
DCF 251.05(4)(k) (k) Support staff, such as clerical, housekeeping and food service staff, may only be considered in determining the staff-to-child ratios:
DCF 251.05(4)(k)1. 1. During those hours when they give full attention to the care and supervision of children.
DCF 251.05(4)(k)2. 2. If they meet the qualifications for a child care worker.
DCF 251.05(4)(L) (L) Child care workers shall be free of non-classroom duties when they are counted in meeting the staff-to-child ratios.
DCF 251.05(4)(m) (m) Children of staff who attend the center and who are on the premises for supervision and care shall be included in determining group size and staff-to-child ratios.
DCF 251.05 History History: Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; reprinted to correct error in Table, Register, February, 1997, No. 494; reprinted to correct error in Table, Register, March, 1997, No. 495; CR 03-052: r. and recr. (title), (1) (a), (1) (j) 3., (2) (c) 3. to 7., am. (1) (b) 3. b., (c) 5. (intro.), Table 46.05-A, (6) (intro.), Table 46.05-B, (d) 3., Table 46.05-C, (2) (a) (intro.), 3., 6., 8., 11., (4) (e) (intro.) and 1., r. (1) (c) 5. a. to i. and 6. a. to f., (1) (d) 3. a. to i., renum. (1) (j) 4. to be 5., cr. (1) (j) 4. a. and b., (2) (a) 12., (2) (c) 8. to 10., (3) (g) Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05; corrections in (1) (j) 1. a., 3., (2) (a) 2. and 3. made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635; CR 07-102: r. and recr. (1), am. (2) (a), 9., (3) (b), (c), (f), (4) (d), (j) and Table D, cr. (2) (a) 13., 14., (3) (h) and (i), r. (2) (c) 6. and 10. Register December 2008 No. 636, eff. 1-1-09; renumbering in (1) (e) 4. and corrections in (1) (e) 4. d., 5. d., (L) 3., (4) (j) and Table D made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 1., 6. and 7., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635.
DCF 251.06 DCF 251.06Physical plant and equipment.
DCF 251.06(1)(1)Building.
DCF 251.06(1)(a)(a) The building in which a center is located shall comply with applicable state and local building codes. The licensee shall maintain a report of inspection of the building, which specifies that the building meets the applicable Wisconsin commercial building codes for use as a group child care center.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Inspections can be obtained from a commercial building inspector certified by the Department of Safety and Professional Services in accordance with ch. SPS 305, “Licenses, Certifications, and Registration," or a Wisconsin architect registered in accordance with chapter A-E 3, Architect Registration, or a Wisconsin engineer registered in accordance with chapter A-E 4, Professional Engineer Registration.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Local authorities should be consulted to obtain any required zoning clearances or building permits.
DCF 251.06(1)(b) (b) The department shall be given written notice of proposed construction, remodeling of existing space or change in rooms to be used by children prior to the initiation of the changes.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Alterations, additions or changes of use to commercial buildings may require submittal of plans to and approval by the Department of Safety and Professional Services or its agent before commencing construction. It is recommended that an architect or engineer be consulted prior to the beginning of any construction to determine whether plans must be submitted. When a center chooses to prepare meals on the premises after the initial building inspection has been completed, a new inspection may be necessary to ensure that the applicable commercial building codes related to kitchens have been met.
DCF 251.06(1)(c) (c) Space designated for use by children may only be used by children and staff and may not be used for other purposes while the center is open.
DCF 251.06(1)(d) (d) The inside temperature may not be less than 67°F.
DCF 251.06(1)(e) (e) If the inside temperature exceeds 80°F., the licensee shall provide for air circulation with fans or by other means.
DCF 251.06(2) (2)Protective measures.
DCF 251.06(2)(a)(a) The indoor and outdoor premises shall be free of hazards including any recalled products.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: Lists of recalled products are available on the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection website at or by contacting the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission (US CPSC) at 1-800-638-2772.
DCF 251.06(2)(b) (b) Steam radiators, fireplaces, wood burning stoves, electric fans, electric outlets, electrical heating units and hot surfaces, such as pipes, shall be protected by screens or guards so that children cannot touch them.
DCF 251.06(2)(c) (c) Firearms, ammunition and other potentially dangerous items may not be kept on the premises.
DCF 251.06(2)(d) (d) Materials harmful to children, including power tools, flammable or combustible materials, insecticides, matches, drugs and other articles hazardous or poisonous to children shall be in properly marked containers and stored in areas inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(2)(e) (e) A motor vehicle shall be immediately available at the center at all times in case of an emergency if a public or private rescue or emergency vehicle cannot arrive at the center within 10 minutes of a phone call.
DCF 251.06(2)(f) (f) The center shall have a working telephone or access to a working telephone on the premises during hours of operation, with a list of emergency telephone numbers, including telephone numbers for the local rescue squad, fire department, police department or other law enforcement agency, poison control center and emergency medical service posted near each telephone. In this paragraph, “telephone" does not include a pay telephone requiring payment to reach the operator or a telephone in a locked room.
DCF 251.06(2)(g) (g) Stairs, walks, ramps and porches shall be maintained in a safe condition and free from the accumulation of water, ice or snow.
DCF 251.06(2)(h) (h) Smoking is prohibited on the premises of the center when the children are present.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: See s. DCF 251.03 (25) for the definition of premises.
DCF 251.06(2)(i) (i) A licensee, employee, volunteer or other individual in contact with children may not consume alcoholic beverages or any non-prescribed controlled substance specified in ch. 961, Stats., on the premises of the center or be under the influence of any alcohol or non-prescribed controlled substance, during the hours of the center's operation.
DCF 251.06(2)(j) (j) Children may not be allowed in an area where power tools are in use.
DCF 251.06(2)(k) (k) A hot tub located in a room or area accessible to children shall have a visible, locked, rigid cover or be enclosed by a locked fence at least 4 feet tall. The lock shall be installed so that the lock is inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(2)(L) (L) If a hot tub is located in a room or area not intended for use by children, access to the room or area shall be controlled through the use of a visibly locked door. The lock shall be installed so that the lock is inaccessible to children.
DCF 251.06(3) (3)Emergencies. Each center shall have a written plan for responding to a fire, a tornado, a tornado warning, a missing child or other emergency. A center shall do all of the following:
DCF 251.06(3)(a) (a) Post the fire evacuation and tornado plan and practice implementing the fire evacuation plan monthly. Tornado drills shall be conducted monthly from April through October.
DCF 251.06(3)(b) (b) Make sure that all staff members know what their duties are if there is a fire, tornado, tornado warning, missing child or other emergency.
DCF 251.06(3)(c) (c) Keep a written record of dates and times of all fire and tornado drills practiced.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: The licensee may use the department's form, Fire, Safety and Emergency Response Documentation — Group Child Care Centers, to record dates and times of the monthly fire or tornado practice. 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 251.06(4) (4)Fire protection.
DCF 251.06(4)(a)(a) Each fire extinguisher on the premises of a center shall be operable at all times, inspected once a year by a qualified person and bear a label indicating its present condition and date of the last inspection.
DCF 251.06(4)(b) (b) All staff members shall be instructed in and knowledgeable about the use of the fire extinguishers.
DCF 251.06(4)(c) (c) Each floor used by children shall have at least 2 exits.
DCF 251.06(4)(d) (d) Exits and exit passageways shall have a minimum clear width of 3 feet and be unobstructed by furniture or other objects.
DCF 251.06(4)(e) (e) An extension cord may not be used permanently with an appliance.
DCF 251.06(4)(f) (f) No more than 2 electrical appliances may be plugged into any one wall outlet.
DCF 251.06(4)(g) (g) The door to the basement and furnace room shall be closed.
DCF 251.06(4)(h) (h) Areas under stairs may not be used for storage.
DCF 251.06(4)(i) (i) All exit lights shall be lit at all times.
DCF 251.06(4)(j) (j) Fire alarms, alarm systems and smoke detectors shall be maintained in good working order. Fire alarms and smoke detectors shall be used to conduct monthly fire evacuation drills. Fire alarms and smoke detectors shall be tested weekly and a record kept of the test results.
DCF 251.06 Note Note: The licensee may use the department's form, Fire, Safety, and Emergency Response Documentation — Group Child Care Centers, to document the results of the weekly testing of fire alarms and smoke detectors. 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 251.06(4)(k) (k) Unvented gas, oil or kerosene space heaters are prohibited.
DCF 251.06(5) (5)Sanitation.
DCF 251.06(5)(a)(a) The premises shall be free from litter, clean and in good repair.
DCF 251.06(5)(b)1.1. There shall be no flaking or deteriorating paint on exterior or interior surfaces in areas accessible to children.
DCF 251.06(5)(b)2. 2. No lead-based paint or other toxic finishing material may be used.
DCF 251.06(5)(c) (c) Garbage containers in the building shall be rigid, covered, watertight and emptied daily or more often as needed. Compactors need not be emptied daily. Garbage and refuse stored out of doors shall be kept in leak-proof containers equipped with tight-fitting covers and shall be disposed of as necessary to prevent decomposition or overflow.
DCF 251.06(5)(d) (d) Furnishings, toys, cots and other equipment shall be washed or cleaned when they become soiled. Eating surfaces shall be washed and sanitized before and after each use.
DCF 251.06(5)(e)1.1. Toilet rooms and fixtures shall be in a sanitary condition at all times.
DCF 251.06(5)(e)2. 2. Potty chair receptacles shall be emptied and rinsed and the potty chair and receptacle shall be disinfected immediately after each use with a chlorine bleach solution of one tablespoon to one quart of water, made fresh daily.
DCF 251.06(5)(f) (f) Windows and doors that are used for ventilation shall be screened.
DCF 251.06(5)(g) (g) The premises shall be maintained to prevent the entrance or harborage of vermin.
DCF 251.06(6) (6)Water.
DCF 251.06(6)(a)(a) A safe supply of drinking water shall be available to children at all times from a drinking fountain of the angle jet type or by use of disposable cups. Common use of drinking cups is prohibited.
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.