Childcare is not only a cornerstone of our communities but also an essential driver of economic growth and workforce sustainability. In today’s fast-paced world, access to stable, high-quality childcare is a lifeline for working parents, enabling them to maximize their labor productivity, further their education, and participate more fully in the workforce. It’s a win-win scenario. But what if we told you that there’s a way to contribute to this vital need while simultaneously reaping the benefits? Owning your own childcare business not only allows you to watch over your own children while generating extra income but also presents an opportunity to meet the ever-growing demand for high-quality childcare in Manitowoc County. With the potential to earn between $40,000 and $80,000 while doing a job that’s both meaningful and rewarding, starting your own childcare business opens doors to a brighter future for you, your community, and, most importantly, the children who depend on your care. Join us on this journey of discovery as we explore the multifaceted world of childcare entrepreneurship.


Under Wisconsin law, Wis. Stat. 48.65(1), no person may provide care and supervision for 4 or more children under the age of 7 for less than 24 hours a day unless that person obtains a license to operate a child care center from the Department of Children and Families. A license is not required for a relative or guardian of a child who provides care and supervision for the child; a public or parochial school; a person employed to come to the home of the child’s parent or guardian for less than 24 hours a day; or a county, city, village, town, school district, or library that provides programs primarily intended for recreational or social purposes.

There are 3 different categories of state licensed child care:

Licensed Family Child Care Centers provide care for up to 8 children. This care is usually in the provider’s home.
Licensed Group Child Care Centers provide care for 9 or more children. These centers are usually located somewhere other than a residence and may be small or large in size.
Licensed Day Camps are seasonal programs that provide experiences for 4 or more children 3 years of age and older. These programs usually operate in an outdoor setting.

Certification is a voluntary form of regulation in Wisconsin for those child care programs that are not required to be licensed. DCF 202 establishes standards for the certification of persons who provide care for 1 to 3 children or those who are not otherwise required to be licensed. 

Professionalism: Embrace your role as a professional in child care, running your own business with confidence, and delivering high-quality services to your local community.

Commitment and Stability: Show commitment to quality child care through standards adherence, background checks, and access to business benefits.

YoungStar: Opt to participate in Wisconsin’s Child Care Quality Rating and Improvement System to enhance your childcare services.

Child Care Subsidy: Only regulated providers can access the My Wisconsin Child Care (MyWICC) subsidy, offering essential support to working families seeking childcare services.

USDA Food Program: Receive reimbursement for providing nutritious meals and snacks to the children in your care, benefiting both them and your own children.

T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood Scholarship: Eligible for scholarships to pursue an Associates or Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood or a Wisconsin-approved Credential.

REWARD Stipend: Enjoy increasing stipends as your registry level advances, designed to grow with your career.

Networking/Provider Support: Join a local child care advocate group for vital networking and support from fellow child care providers, underscoring your commitment to professionalism.

Referrals: Promote your business through DCF and Youngstar databases, making it easy for parents to find your services when their childcare needs align with your offerings.

Workshops/Trainings: Make the most of training opportunities offered by Childcaring, ensuring ongoing education in the field.

  • Family Child Care Providers caring for 1-3 children whose care is paid for by the county.

  • Family Child Care Providers caring for 4 or more children under age 7.

  • All Child Care Centers.

  • A child care program must have 2 or more stars to be eligible to accept WI Shares funding.

  • Anyone over age 18 may care for up to 3 children in addition to their own without being regulated unless caring for county-funded children.

YoungStar is a program of the Department of Children and Families (DCF) created to improve the quality of child care for Wisconsin children. YoungStar evaluates the quality of care given by regulated child care providers and rates them from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the highest rating. A provider’s star rating is based on:

  • Education Qualifications and Training
  • Learning Environment and Curriculum
  • Professional and Business Practices
  • Child Health and Well-Being Practices

You can find more information on YoungStar at on the YoungStar home page.

Capacity is the maximum number of children that may be cared for at any one time according to the child care license or certification requirements. Capacity for a family child care license may not exceed eight children, but it may be less. Capacity for a group child care license will be nine children or more. Capacity for certified family child care may not exceed 3 children under the age of 7 and may not exceed a maximum group size of 6, including the provider’s own children under age 7.

  • Capacity for certified family child care may not exceed 3 children under the age of 7 and may not exceed a maximum group size of 6, including the provider’s own children under age 7.
  • Capacity for a licensed family child center care may not exceed 8 children, but it may be fewer.
  • Capacity for a licensed group child care center will be 9 children or more.

Yes, all child care providers need to have training in early childhood education, shaken baby syndrome (SBS) / Abusive Had Trauma (AHT) prevention, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) risk reduction procedures, infant/child cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and for licensed centers, automated electronic defibrillator (AED) training. Child care teachers in group child care centers need additional early childhood training and group child care center directors and administrators and family child care providers need training in early childhood and in the business-related aspects of operating a business. Group child care teachers and center directors also need to have experience in a licensed center before beginning to work in a program.

To find out more information about training requirements for child care providers, visit the department’s Child Care Regulation Information for Providers webpage and see the “Training” dropdown menu.

Through one-on-one counseling, our team is committed to guiding you through the intricate process of establishing your childcare venture. To embark on this journey, simply reach out to the Progress Lakeshore office, and we’ll schedule a meeting to delve into the specific ways in which we can support your planning and execution. With a wealth of technical resources at your disposal, we offer valuable insights and information to set you on the right course. For licensed child care providers looking to elevate their operations, Progress Lakeshore is here to assist in site selection, securing financing, and navigating other critical aspects of your business development. 

Unlock the ABCs of Launching Your Child Care Business