Three Steps to Opening a Child Care Business

Step 1.

First, order an Inquiry Packet by completing this form and send it in with a check or money order for $25 payable to the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to:

Department of Children & Families
2187 N. Stevens St., Suite C
Rhinelander, WI 54501

The Inquiry Packet includes a licensing rule book, suggested procedures for starting a program, a start-up worksheet, and other information.

Step 2.

Next, complete the Business Start-Up worksheet that comes in the Inquiry Packet and mail it to:

Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA)
700 Rayovac Drive, Suite 6
Madison, WI 53711

Step 3.

A pre-licensing consultant from Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. will be assigned to support you through the licensing process.

We will provide potential group childcare providers with:

  • A maximum of 8 hours of technical consultation
  • Phone and/or email technical assistance
  • One policy review (required)
  • One 2- to 4-hour site visit (required)

We will provide potential family childcare providers with:

  • A maximum of 6 hours of technical consultation
  • Phone and/or email technical assistance
  • One policy review (required)
  • One 2- to 3-hour site visit (required)

Additional consultation can be purchased if needed or desired. Call or email us for more information!

Pre-Licensing Fine Print

Pre-Licensing is a FREE service for potential childcare providers in Brown, Shawano, Kewaunee, Oconto, Door and Menominee and Marinette Counties. We also serve Oneida, Stockbridge-Munsee and Menominee Tribes.

This service is brought to local communities in partnership with Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) and is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF).

WI Department of Children and Families logo            Supporting Families Together Association logo

Family & Childcare Resources of N.E.W. is here to help you start your childcare business.

Attend a FREE Business Start-Up session to learn about regulation types, steps needed to start the process for each type of regulation, programs designed to assist you as a childcare provider, and other community resources.

FCR N.E.W. Business Start Up Sessions: click here for dates and information.

You have three options to provide certified or licensed childcare.

  1. Licensed Group Child Care Centers care for nine or more children. The lead teachers must complete 90 hours of early childhood education. When caring for children under the age of 2, providers must complete an infant/toddler course (15 hours).
  2. Licensed Family Child Care providers care for up to eight children. A licensed family childcare provider must complete 45 hours of early childhood education and 12 hours on the operation of a child care business. When caring for children under the age of 2, providers must complete an infant/toddler course (15 hours).
  3. Certified Child Care Providers care for up to six children. A certified provider must have the SIDS and the SBS training along with some additional training in early childhood education. Contact the county in which you live to start the process.

You can obtain entry level classes through a variety of avenues. Your Technical Consultant can help you locate training in your area.

Frequently Asked Questions…

What is Pre-Licensing?

Pre-Licensing is a FREE service for potential childcare providers interested in becoming licensed. It’s funded by the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (DCF). A Pre-Licensing Consultant is assigned to prepare family and group early care and education professionals for the official Licensing process. They provide technical assistance on how to build appropriate program environments, policies, procedures, staffing strategies, and safety measures. This process is completed through a policy review with a Pre-Licensing Consultant and a site visit to the program space. A Pre-Licensing site visit can take anywhere from 2 to 4 hours, along with additional e-mail and phone call follow-ups.

Why Pre-Licensing before Licensing?

There is a lot of preparation and detail involved in starting a successful, legal childcare program. Pre-Licensing Consultants are trained in the Licensing regulations and checklist. Guidance in Pre-Licensing helps providers to consider safety and other program issues that can help prepare them to pursue a quality rating with YoungStar, Wisconsin’s child care quality rating and improvement program. Pre-Licensing is the base you need to start building your knowledge and your business. It is your chance to ensure you are prepared to succeed in Licensing.

Red and orange YoungStar logo


Your Pre-Licensing Consultant’s role is to help you succeed, and they do their best to make their time with you count. Make sure you do the same! Don’t make any big decisions regarding your business–such as signing a lease or buying a building–before you talk it over with your Pre-Licensing Consultant. Thoroughly read all of the information that your Pre-Licensing Specialist gives you and ask lots of questions. It will save you time later on and will better prepare you for the site visit and for the Licensing process.