The transition to child care can be a nerve-wracking time in a parent’s life. Finding a provider that works for your family can be challenging and time-consuming. Make finding child care simple by following our handy guide.

Check Your References

The first step is finding out what child care is available. Our Referral Department can help you locate regulated providers through consultation and referrals from a database of nearly 1,000 child care programs throughout southern Wisconsin.

Figure Out What’s Important

Now that you have a list of child care options near you, it’s time to figure out which one is best for your family. Before you can do that though, you need to figure out what requirements you have for child care. We’ve provided some basic things to look for when judging the quality of care, but it is important for you to consider the specifics of what your child needs.

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Is Anything Wrong?

One of the first things you should look for when evaluating a provider is whether they have any complaints or concerns against them. To find out, make sure to check with the appropriate regulatory agency. You can find out how to contact them on this page.

Child Care Costs

A major consideration for parents is the cost of each program. Child care can be expensive, so making sure that you get the best price that fits your family’s budget is very important. We’ve collected data from child care programs in the 4-C service delivery area and created reports on wages, rates, benefits, and enrollments to help parents watch their wallets.

Make First Contact

After you’ve made all the preparations, it is time to get in contact with each provider to ask them about their program. Making sure to have a written list of questions to ask each child care program ahead of time can help you feel more confident about the provider you choose.

Help Your Wallet

Once they’ve found the right child care option, you should always consider exploring different options for alleviating the cost of child care. Any option that can lessen the financial impact is worth taking a look into.

If you have questions about finding child care in southern Wisconsin you can contact us using this form, email us at, or call us at 1-800-750-KIDS

Teaching children about kindness should be a priority year-round for all child care providers and families. Utilize the sunshine this summer and get outside while participating in the following kindness activities:

1.  Make beautiful homemade bookmarks and give them out at the library. one

You can make many fun pictures using fingerprints!

2.  Leave out water for the birds

3.  Take a snack to an elderly neighbor

4.  Leave bubbles on someone’s doorstep

5.  Leave heads up pennies on the sidewalk

6.  Record a video message for parents or other family members

Doing this out in nature will make it even better

7.  Have a lemonade stand to raise money for charity or just give out cups of lemonade on a hot day

8.  Share what you are thankful for before snack or a meal

Have a picnic while you’re at it!

9.  Read stories about kindness on a blanket in the yard such as:

twoHave You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud and David Messing
This book has won 24 awards! While using a simple metaphor of a bucket and a dipper, author Carol McCloud illustrates that when we choose to be kind, we not only fill the buckets of those around us, but also fill our OWN bucket! Conversely, when we choose to say or do mean things, we are dipping into other people’s buckets. All day long, we are either filling up or dipping into each other's buckets by what we say and what we do. When you're a bucket filler, you make the world a better place to be!

threeBe Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller and Jen Hill
From asking the new girl to play to standing up for someone being bullied, this moving story explores what kindness is, and how any act, big or small, can make a difference―or at least help a friend.Be Kind is an unforgettable story about how two simple words can change the world.

fourStrictly No Elephants by Lisa Mantcheve and Taeeun Yoo
Today is Pet Club day. There will be cats and dogs and fish, but strictly no elephants are allowed. The Pet Club doesn’t understand that pets come in all shapes and sizes, just like friends. Now it is time for a boy and his tiny pet elephant to show them what it means to be a true friend.

10.  Play empathy charades

Having empathy for others requires children to put themselves in someone else’s shoes and imagine how they feel. Get outside in the yard and take turns acting out different emotions and guess what people are feeling.

11.  fiveMake a Pinecone Bird Feeder


  • Pinecones
  • Peanut Butter, or another nut butter, or vegetable shortening
  • Popsicle sticks
  • Birdseed
  • String Bowls


  • Put the nut butter and birdseed into separate bowls.
  • Have children choose a pine cone.
  • Roll the pinecone in nut butter and spread it over the pinecone using popsicle sticks.
  • Once covered in nut butter, roll the pinecone in the birdseed. Shake excess seed back into the bowl.
  • Let dry, then tie a string to the pinecone to hang it.
  • Make these other feeders to attract/support wildlife!

12.  Make Handmade Thank You Cards with Wax Resist Paint Technique

sixGreat to give to postal workers, sanitation workers, parents, etc. Make these outside and avoid the mess!


  • watercolor paints
  • white crayon
  • white card stock or blank gift cards
  • paintbrushes
  • small cups or ice cube tray


  • Take the white crayon, and draw an image or write your words on your white paper. You won’t really be able to see what you’re writing because of the white-on-white, which might make it a little challenging, but don’t worry about being perfect here.
  • Add a couple of drops of each liquid watercolor into the sections of an ice cube tray. Fill a couple of sections with water for the children to wet and rinse their brushes in.
  • Have the children dip their brushes in the water and then in the watercolor and ask them to swipe over the front of the card to reveal the message. The results are beautiful!
  • Have the children help you with wording a special message for each recipient.

We need to be the adults now we want children to be someday. Teaching children about kindness and empathy from a young age and modelling it ourselves can make all the difference.

School’s out for the summer meaning kids have a surplus of free time on their hands. It can be easy to turn to technology for entertainment, but their investment in online gaming and social media can quickly turn into a lack of sunshine. Keep your kids constructively occupied with these low-cost summer activities.

Crack Open a World of Possibilities

Speaking of low-cost activities, checking out a library book is free! Reading has a ton of benefits such as improving memory, reducing stress by up to 86%, and building vocabulary. Encouraging your kids to read is great not only for the summer but for the rest of their lives! Libraries also offer different kids activities like summer reading lists and children’s programs. These programs can range from book readings and puppet shows to board game tournaments and book clubs. Check out this helpful list to find a library near you.

Spring into Summer with Exciting Outdoor Fun

Gardening is a great way to spend time with your kids and get them outside! Whether it’s indoors, outdoors, or in the community, gardening teaches children responsibility and how to care for the environment. If you’re looking for something more active, taking your kids swimming is a great way to beat the heat and keep them occupied for a minimal cost. Not only that, but swimming is a great exercise, it’s a way for your child to make friends, and it might lead to discovering a new hobby! Wisconsin is home to a number of outdoor pools, natural beaches, and swimming holes. Here’s a great resource to find a place to swim near you.


Effective Learning STEMS From Fun

Looking for something inexpensive, fun, but also educational? There are a ton of different STEM-based activities to ensure your kids have a great summer. Teach your kids about chemical reactions with this great experiment that involves just vinegar and baking soda. Is chemistry not interesting enough? Teach your kids basic engineering by making this simple catapult. Making learning fun is not only a great way to spend the summer, but it’s also beneficial for when they go back to school. You can also find more fun and educational activities on our Pinterest page, or read through resources and tips on our 4-C blog!

Summer is finally here and school is out. Your school ager is ready for a much needed break from the homework and schedules of school. However, it is important to keep in mind that families play a major role in motivating children to continue reading during these summer months. There are many ways to keep your child interested in reading, it doesn’t always have to be about reading a certain number of pages a day or books a week. It’s summer, so keep it fun and interesting.

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  • Combine books with activities. If you’re travelling to a new city, going to the zoo or sporting event, head to the library and get some books to read about that activity.
  • Have a variety of reading materials around. Newspapers or age appropriate magazines can bring a new interest to reading for your child.
  • If your child loves movies, it might interest him to read the books based on his favorite movies.
  • Visit a comic book shop. Your child may enjoy having the picture sequences and written text or it might inspire them to create their own comic book over the summer.
  • Keep in touch with relatives or friends through post cards, letters or e-mails on a regular basis or with a particular pen pal each week.
  • To avoid summer boredom, get books that teach your child how to make or do something. They can get some reading time in and learn a new fun activity or hobby.
  • Check out your local library as many have fun summer reading programs and this can also be a great time to get your child their own library card.
  • If your child likes to help you cook, have them look for recipes in cookbooks, magazines or online.
  • Be a reading role model. When children see adults reading they can understand that reading can be an interesting, important and enjoyable part of your day.

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