Pre-Licensing is a free service offered to anyone who is interested in obtaining a family child care license or a group child care license. 4-C provides pre-licensing services in the following counties: Columbia, Dane, Dodge, Grant, Green, Iowa, Jefferson, Lafayette, Rock, Sauk, Walworth and the Ho-Chunk Nation.


The first step is to figure out if Child Care Licensing is right for you and your program.

Section 48.65, Stats., requires that persons operating child care centers which provide care and supervision for 4 or more children under age 7 years for less than 24 hours a day be licensed. The statutes also require the Department of Children and Families to establish rules that must be met in order to qualify for a license and which protect and promote the health, safety and welfare of the children in the care of the child care center. VIEW EXCEPTIONS


There are two main types of regulations – Certification and Licensing.  For an explanation of the levels of child care regulation in Wisconsin click here.

See below for some of the different requirements for each regulation.  Please note there are other items that are required by each regulation.

To learn more details about Certification click here.

To learn more details about Licensing, click here to visit the DCF website.


If you have decided you are ready to start your Licensed Family Child Care in your home, the next step is to complete the online fillable Family Child Care Business Start-Up Worksheet.

If you have decided you are ready to start your Licensed Group Child Care Center at a commercial location, the next step is to complete the Group Child Care Business Start-Up WorksheetWe highly recommend connecting with a Pre-licensing Technical Consultant for more detailed information before submitting the Business Start-Up Worksheet for group child care ([email protected]). 

Not sure which regulations will fit your dream?

Attend a Child Care Entrepreneur Workshop and find out more details to help you navigate your vision in starting your own child care business.

Mother and infant on the floor laying on their bellies for tummy time

What Type of Support is Available?

During the Pre-Licensing process, you are guaranteed to receive one policy review from your Technical Consultant, and one site visit to the location of your proposed child care program. Otherwise, assistance is typically conducted via phone or email. Providers opening a group program can receive up to 8 total hours of free technical assistance; providers opening a family program can receive up to 6 free hours.

Each provider in the pre-licensing process will receive:

  • Extra resources

  • Policy advice and review

  • Assistance with navigating licensing rules
  • Helpful phone calls and emails
  • A site visit which will help prepare for the initial licensing visit

  • Virtual visit/support

Contact Us

Questions?  We’re here to help!  Fill out the form below or call 608-271-9181 (ext. 7017).