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A Message from the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Jun 22, 2021

Seal of Wisconsin

Lining up quality, affordable child care is a concern as staff heads back into our post-pandemic workplaces. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) has compiled a list of resources to help individuals and families looking for child care. These services are provided by DCF and its partner agencies and are available to anyone searching for child care.

Baby walking through a box fort tunnel

DCF’s Child Care Finder
Child Care Finder is a service that allows individuals and families to find child care and review information about providers. The service allows users to look up providers by location, name, or YoungStar rating – you can also make selections regarding your specific child care needs. A new systems interface is currently in development between DCF and the Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies (CCR&R) system. This new interface will enable child care regulatory and YoungStar rating information to flow automatically between DCF and local CCR&R agencies. Examples of additional information that will display on the Child Care finder includes: open vacancies, enrollments, waitlists, program philosophy, and schedules. This information will give parents access to more detailed information when searching for child care options that better fit their needs.

Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (CCR&Rs)
DCF partners with Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) to provide direct service for individuals and families looking for an extra level of support. Local agencies provide personalized searches and referrals based on identified needs. Service is provided by a local organization, based on an individual or family’s residence. Contact information for your local CCR&R can be found using by using SFTA’s regional contact information map.

Child Care Availability Map
During the pandemic, DCF began collecting and displaying available child care at participating providers. This map can be used in conjunction with the Child Care Finder to determine whether there is existing space at a given child care provider. The information in the map is updated regularly, but always reach out to providers directly or use the CCR&R services to confirm availability – it changes frequently.

YoungStar is Wisconsin’s quality rating and improvement system. The program assigns up to five stars to participating providers, based on programmatic and environmental ratings. YoungStar ratings are based on the points a program earns across four key categories of care. It is an objective system that values educated and well-trained staff, enriching learning experiences, professional business practices, and healthy and nurturing environments. Participation is mandatory for providers participating in the Wisconsin Shares program, but is not required for those who do not take Wisconsin Shares. Ratings appear as part of the information provided in the Child Care Finder.

Wisconsin Shares
Wisconsin Shares is the state’s child care subsidy program, designed to support eligible families by funding a portion of the cost of child care while the parents are working or participating in an approved activity. The linked page provides information about who qualifies and how to apply.

Milwaukee Early Care Administration (MECA)
MECA oversees the Wisconsin Shares Child Subsidy Program for Milwaukee County. The MECA Resources for Parents webpage contains information specific for parents residing in Milwaukee County. Parent-Provider Services within MECA consists of two Parent-Provider Liaisons that are responsible for being a resource for parents and child care providers, and enhancing and promoting parent education regarding Wisconsin Shares.

Child Care Information and Resources
If you’re interested in learning more about child care, this page provides an extensive list of information about Wisconsin’s child care system.

Contact your Child Care Resource & Referral Center for more help finding child care
(888) 713.KIDS

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