Complaints, inspections and enforcement actions.
Programs established or contracted for by school boards.
Ch. DCF 251 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 Authority 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.
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:
Care and supervision of children in a program, including religious education classes, which operates no more than 4 hours a week.
Group lessons to develop a talent or skill, such as dance or music lessons, social group meetings and activities and group athletic activities.
Care and supervision while the child's parent is on the premises and is engaged in shopping, recreation or other non-work activities.
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.
Seasonal programs of 10 days or less duration in any 3-month period, including day camps, vacation bible schools and holiday child care programs.
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
, 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.
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
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 Definitions.
In this chapter:
“Administrator" means the person responsible to the licensee for management of the group child care center.
“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)
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
“Care" means providing for the safety and the developmental needs of a child in a group child care center.
“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)
“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.
“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.
“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)
“Child care worker" means a child care teacher or assistant child care teacher in a group child care center.
“Complaint" means an allegation that a provision of this chapter or of ch. 48
, Stats., has been violated.
“Course for credit" means a course that is worth at least 2 credits from an institution of higher education.
“Crib" means a bed for an infant or young child that is enclosed on 4 sides including play pens and portable cribs.
“Department" means the Wisconsin department of children and families.
“Division" means the department's division of early care and education.
“Early childhood education” means the teaching of children who are 8 years of age or less.
“Emergency” means unforeseen circumstances that require immediate attention.
“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.
“Fit and qualified" means displaying the capacity to successfully nurture and care for children and may include consideration of any of the following:
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
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.
“Full day center" means a center that accepts children for care for 5 or more consecutive hours in a day.
“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.
“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.
“Hazard" means a potential source of harm that can jeopardize the health, safety or well-being of children in care.
“In care” means enrolled in the center, with the center 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.
“Inclement weather" means stormy or severe weather such as any of the following:
Wind chills of 0 degrees Fahrenheit or below for children age 2 and above.
Wind chills of 20 degrees Fahrenheit or below for children under age 2.
“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)
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;
Is legally authorized to provide a program of education beyond secondary education;
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
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.
“Licensed hours” means the authorized hours specified on the license certificate and letter of transmittal within which the center may provide child care services.
“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.
“Licensing representative" means a department employee responsible for licensing group child care centers.
“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.
“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.
“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
“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.
“Physical Restraint" means the use of physical force to restrict the free movement of all or part of a child's body.
“Premises" means the tract of land on which a center is located, including all buildings and structures on that land.
“Regularly assigned child care worker” means a child care worker who is assigned to a specific group of children in a self-contained room or area.
“Representative of the department" means a department employee or a representative from an agency the department contracts with to provide pre-licensing services.
“School-age child" means a child 5 years of age or older who is enrolled in a public school or a parochial or other private school.
“Self-contained room or area" means a room separated by permanent walls or an area separated by permanent or portable partitions or dividers acting as a visual barrier for children which is reserved for a group of children and contains the indoor equipment and furnishings required for that group.
“Shaken baby syndrome" or “SBS" means a severe form of brain injury that occurs when an infant or young child is shaken or thrown forcibly enough to cause the brain to rebound against his or her skull.
“Sleeping bag" means a padded fabric bag that is closed or capable of being closed on three sides.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“Toddler" means a child at least one year of age but less than 2 years of age.
“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
“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 http://www.osha.gov
. Information is also available from the Child Care Information Center, 1-800-362-7353.
“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.
“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
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
: emerg. am. (2), cr. (2m), r. (3m), am. (4), cr. (4r), am. (5), cr. (10g), r. and recr. (10m), am. (11g) (b), (14g), cr. (16m), am. (17), r. (18m), am. (19), (26), (29g), eff. 1-30-19; CR 19-089
: am. (2), cr. (2m), r. (3m), am. (4), cr. (4r), am. (5), cr. (10g), r. and recr. (10m), am. (11g) (b), (14g), cr. (16m), am. (17), r. (18m), am. (19), (26), (29g) Register March 2020 No. 771
, eff. 4-1-20; CR 20-003
: renum. (14) to (10s) and am. Register July 2020 No. 775
, eff. 8-1-20.