Sec. DCF 251.07 - Program

ยง DCF 251.07. Program


(a) Each group child care center shall have a written program of activities which are suitable for the developmental level of each child and each group of children. The program shall provide each child with experiences which will promote all of the following:

Note: The Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards are voluntary standards that were designed to help centers develop programs and curriculum to help ensure that children are exposed to activities and opportunities that will prepare them for success in school and into the future. The Standards are primarily intended as guidance on developmentally appropriate expectations and are not intended to be used as a checklist to gauge a child's progress. The Standards are based on scientific research. Copies of the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards are available on the Wisconsin Early Childhood Collaborating Partners website at or through the Child Care Information Center at 1-800-362-7353.

1. Self-esteem and positive self-image.

2. Social interaction.

3. Self-expression and communication skills.

4. Creative expression.

5. Large and small muscle development.

6. Intellectual growth.

7. Literacy.

Note: With parental consent and consultation, it is recommended that centers who care for children who have an Individualized Family Service Plan (IFSP) or an Individualized Education Program (IEP) coordinate programming activities with the local school district or Birth to Three agency.

(b) The program schedule shall be planned to provide a flexible balance each day of:

1. Active and quiet activities.

2. Individual and group activities.

3. Indoor and if the center is in operation more than 3 hours per day, outdoor activities.

(c) Television may be used only to supplement the daily plan for children. No child may be required to watch television. Other activities shall be available.

(d) Routines such as toileting and eating and intervals between activities shall be planned to avoid keeping children waiting in lines or assembled in large groups.

(e) The program shall provide all of the following:

1. Reasonable regularity in eating, napping and other routines.

2. Daily periods when a variety of experiences are concurrently available for the children to select their own activities.

3. Protection from excess fatigue and over stimulation.

4. If a center is in operation for more than 3 hours per day, daily outdoor activities except during inclement weather or when not advisable for health reasons.

(f) Child care workers shall give children individual attention.

(g) A center that is open in the early morning and late afternoon shall have a written plan for activities which meet the individual needs of the children during those time periods. The plan shall include:

1. Provision of opportunities for the children to rest and eat.

2. Use of materials and engagement in activities which for the most part do not duplicate materials or activities planned for the major part of the program.

(h) The program as implemented shall reflect the center's written policies.


(a) In this subsection:

1. "Time-out period" means removing the child from the situation in a non-humiliating manner and placing the child in a designated location in order to interrupt the child's unacceptable behavior.

2. "Redirection" means directing the child's attention to a different program activity.

(b) Each child care center shall develop and implement a written policy that provides for positive guidance, redirection, and the setting of clear-cut limits for the children. The policy shall be designated to help a child develop self-control, self-esteem, and respect for the rights of others.

(c) If a center uses time-out periods to deal with unacceptable behavior, time-out periods may not exceed 3 minutes, and the procedure shall be included in the center's guidance policy. For purposes of this paragraph, a "time-out" is an interruption of unacceptable behavior by the removal of the child from the situation, not to isolate the child, but to allow the child an opportunity to pause, and with support from the provider, reflect on behavior and gain self-control.

(d) Use of time-out periods is prohibited for children under 3 years of age.

(e) Actions that may be psychologically, emotionally or physically painful, discomforting, dangerous or potentially injurious are prohibited. Examples of prohibited actions include all of the following:

1. Spanking, hitting, pinching, shaking, slapping, twisting, throwing or inflicting any other form of corporal punishment.

2. Verbal abuse, threats or derogatory remarks about the child or the child's family.

3. Physical restraint, binding or tying to restrict movement or enclosing in a confined space such as a closet, locked room, box or similar cubicle.

4. Withholding or forcing meals, snacks or naps.

5. Actions that are cruel, aversive, frightening or humiliating to the child.

(f) A child may not be punished for lapses in toilet training.

Note: Prohibited actions by an employee or volunteer to a child by a staff member must be reported to the department within 24 hours after the occurrence under s. DCF 251.04(3) (i).


(a) Indoor furnishings and equipment shall be safe and durable. The equipment and furnishings shall be:

1. Scaled to the developmental level, size and ability of the children.

2. Of sturdy construction with no sharp, rough, loose, protruding, pinching or pointed edges, or areas of entrapment, in good operating condition, and anchored when necessary.

3. Placed to avoid danger of injury or collision and to permit freedom of action.

4. Placed over an energy-absorbing surface, when equipment is 4 feet or more in height.

5. Used in accordance with all manufacturer's instructions and any manufacturer's recommendations that may affect the safety of children in care.

(b) A center shall provide equipment and supplies according to the following criteria:

1. Child development shall be fostered through selection of a variety of equipment that will:

a. Provide large muscle development.

b. Provide construction activities and for development of manipulative skills.

c. Encourage social interaction.

d. Provide intellectual stimulation.

e. Encourage creative expression.

2. A center shall provide sufficient indoor play equipment to allow each child a choice of at least 3 activities involving equipment when all children are using equipment.

3. A center shall provide sufficient outdoor play equipment to allow each child at least one activity involving equipment when all children are using equipment.

(c) The quantity of indoor and outdoor play equipment specified in par. (b) 2. and 3. shall be provided based on the maximum licensed capacity of the center.

(d) Equipment and materials which reflect an awareness of cultural and ethnic diversity shall be provided.

(e) Shelves shall be provided for equipment and supplies in rooms used by children. Equipment and supplies shall be arranged in an orderly fashion so that children may select, use, and replace items.

(f) Trampolines and inflatable bounce surfaces on the premises shall not be accessible to children and shall not be used by children in care.

(g) Tables and seating shall be scaled to the proper height and size for the children's comfort and reach.

(h) There shall be sufficient storage space for the clothing and personal belongings of each child in attendance. For children 2 years of age and older, the space for outer garment storage shall be at child level.

(i) Furnishings, toys, and other equipment shall be washed or cleaned when they become soiled.


(a) A child under 5 years of age in care for more than 4 hours shall have a nap or rest period.

(b) Child care workers shall permit a child who does not sleep after 30 minutes and a child who awakens to get up and to have quiet time through the use of equipment or activities which will not disturb other children.

(c) Each child under one year of age who naps or sleeps shall be provided with a safe, washable crib or playpen that meets the applicable safety standards in 16 CFR Part 1219 or 1220 and shall be placed at least 2 feet from the nearest sleeping child. Cribs or playpens may be placed end-to-end if a solid partition separates the crib or playpen and an aisle not less than 2 feet in width is maintained between sleeping surfaces.

(cm) Each child one year of age and older who has a nap or rest period shall be provided with a sleeping surface that is clean, safe, washable, and placed at least 2 feet from the nearest sleeping child. Sleeping surfaces may be placed end-to-end if a solid partition separates children and an aisle not less than 2 feet in width is maintained between sleeping surfaces. The sleeping surface shall be any of the following:

1. A bed.

2. A cot.

3. A padded mat.

4. A sleeping bag.

5. A crib or playpen.

(d) Each child one year of age and older not using a sleeping bag shall be provided with an individually identified sheet and blanket that may be used only by that child until it is washed.

(e) Bedding shall be maintained and stored in a clean and sanitary manner, replaced immediately if wet or soiled, and washed after every 5 uses, at a minimum. A crib or playpen shall be washed and disinfected between changes in occupancy.


(a) Food.

1. Food shall be provided by the center based on the amount of time children are present as specified in Table 251.07. - See PDF for table

2. Center-provided transportation time shall be included in determining the amount of time children are present for the purposes of subd. 1.

3. Food shall be served at flexible intervals, but no child may go without nourishment for longer than 3 hours.

4. At a minimum, children shall be provided food for each meal and snack that meets the U.S. department of agriculture child and adult care food program minimum meal requirements for amounts and types of food.

Note: The USDA meal program requirements are found on the website,

4m. Additional portions of vegetables, fruits, bread, and milk shall be available.

5. Menus for meals and snacks provided by the center shall:

a. Be posted in the kitchen and in a conspicuous place accessible to parents.

b. Be planned at least one week in advance, dated and kept on file for 3 months.

c. Be available for review by the department.

5m. A daily menu may not be repeated within a one-week time period.

6. Any changes in a menu as planned shall be recorded on the copies of the menu kept on file and posted for parents.

6m. When snacks are provided by parents for all children, a record of the snack served shall be posted in an area accessible to parents.

8. When food for a child is provided by the child's parent, the center shall provide the parent with information about requirements for food groups and quantities specified by the U.S. department of agriculture child and adult care food program minimum meal requirements.

9. A special diet based on a medical condition, excluding food allergies, but including nutrient concentrates and supplements, may be served only upon written instruction of a child's physician and upon request of the parent.

9m. A special diet based on a food allergy may be served upon the written request of the parent.

10. Cooks, staff members, child care workers and substitutes having direct contact with the children shall be informed about food allergies and other allergies of specific children.

(b) Food service.

1. Staff shall sit at the table with the children during mealtime.

2. Meals shall be served with time allowed for socialization.

3. Except as provided in subd. 4., in a center where meals and snacks are served, seating and table space shall be at least equal to the licensed capacity of the center, excluding infants, so that all children can be served at the same time.

4. In a center where meals are served in a central lunchroom, seating and table space shall be at least equal to the number of children to be served in a shift.

5. Eating surfaces, including high chairs, shall be washed and sanitized before and after each use.


(a) Observation. Each child upon arrival at a center shall be observed by a staff person for symptoms of illness and injury. For an apparently ill child, the procedure under par. (c) shall be followed.

(b) Isolation.A center shall have an isolation area for the care of children who appear to be ill. If the area is not a separate room, it shall be separated from the space used by other children by a partition, screen, or other means to keep other children away from the ill child.

(c) Ill child procedure. The following procedures shall apply when a child with an illness or condition that has the potential to affect the health of other persons, such as vomiting, diarrhea, unusual lethargy, or uncontrolled coughing, is observed in the child care center:

1. The child shall be isolated until the child can be removed from the center.

2. The child in the isolation area shall be within sight and sound supervision of a staff member.

3. The child shall be provided with a bed, crib, playpen, cot, or padded mat and a sheet and blanket or a sleeping bag.

4. The child's parent or emergency contact shall be contacted as soon as possible after the illness is discovered and arrangements shall be made for the child to be removed from the center.

(d) Care of a mildly ill child. A child who is mildly ill may be cared for at the center when all of the following conditions are met:

1. The space for the care of a mildly ill child shall be a self-contained room and shall be separate from children who are well.

2. The room shall have a sink with hot and cold running water.

3. The parent consents in writing.

4. The written health policy of the center allows a mildly ill child to remain at the center.

5. The center follows and implements procedures in a written plan for the provision of care to mildly ill children approved and signed by a licensed physician, or a pediatric or family nurse practitioner which covers all of the following:

a. Admissions and exclusions.

b. Staffing.

c. Staff training.

d. Monitoring and evaluation.

e. Programming.

f. Infectious disease control.

g. Emergency procedures.

6. Medical consultation is available from a physician or local health department in establishing policy for the management of mildly ill children.

(dm) Medical log book.

1. The licensee shall maintain a medical log book that has stitched binding with pages that are lined and numbered.

2. Pages may not be removed from the medical log book under subd. 1. and lines may not be skipped. Each entry in the log book shall be in ink, dated, and signed or initialed by the person making the entry.

Note: See s. DCF 250.04(8) for requirements related to reporting suspected child abuse or neglect.

3. A child care worker shall record all of the following in the medical log under subd. 1.:

a. Any evidence of unusual bruises, contusions, lacerations, or burns seen on a child, regardless of whether received while in the care of the center.

b. Any injuries received by a child while in the care of the center on the date the injury occurred. The record shall include the child's name, the date and time of the injury, and a brief description of the facts surrounding the injury.

c. Any medication dispensed to a child, on the date the medication is dispensed. The record shall include the name of the child, type of medication given, dosage, time, date, and the initials or signature of the person administering the medication.

d. Any incident or accident that occurs when the child is in the care of the center that results in professional medical evaluation.

4. The director or the director's designee shall review records of injuries with staff every 6 months to ensure that all possible preventive measures are being taken. The reviews shall be documented in the medical log book under subd. 1.

(e) Communicable disease.

1. No child or other person with a reportable communicable disease specified in ch. DHS 145 may be admitted to or permitted to remain in a center during the period when the disease is communicable.

3. An employee, volunteer or a child may be readmitted to the group child care center if there is a statement from a physician that the condition is no longer contagious or if the person has been absent for a period of time equal to the longest usual incubation period for the disease as specified by the department.

Note: The Wisconsin Department of Health Services, Division of Public Health, has developed materials that identify those communicable diseases that are required to be reported to the local public health officer. These materials also provide additional guidance on the symptoms of each disease and information on how long an infected child must be excluded from the center. The materials include a communicable disease chart and exclusion guidelines for child care centers. Copies of the communicable disease chart or the exclusion guidelines for child care centers are available from the Child Care Information Center at 800-362-7353.

(f) Medications.

1. Center staff may give prescription or non-prescription medication, such as pain relievers, teething gels or cough syrup, to a child only under the following conditions:

a. A written authorization that includes the child's name and birthdate, name of medication, administration instructions, medication intervals and length of the authorization dated and signed by the parent is on file. Blanket authorizations that exceed the length of time specified on the label are prohibited.

Note: The department's form, Authorization to Administer Medication - Child Care Centers, is used to obtain the parent's authorization to provide medications. Information on how to obtain the department's form is available on the department's website,, or from any regional licensing office in Appendix A.

b. The medication is in the original container and labeled with the child's name and the label includes the dosage and directions for administration.

3. Medication shall be stored so that it is not accessible to the children.

4. Medication requiring refrigeration shall be kept in the refrigerator in a separate, covered container clearly labeled "medication".

5. All medication for a child in care shall be administered by the center as directed on the label and as authorized by the parent.

6. No medication intended for use by a child in the care of the center may be kept at the center without a current medication administration authorization from the parent.

(g) Health precautions.

1. Bodily secretions, such as runny noses, eye drainage, and coughed-up matter shall be wiped with a disposable tissue used once and placed in a plastic-lined container.

2. Surfaces exposed to bodily secretions including walls, floors, toys, equipment, and furnishings shall be washed with soap and water and disinfected. The disinfectant solution shall be registered with the U.S. environmental protection agency as a disinfectant and have instructions for use as a disinfectant on the label. The solution shall be prepared and applied as indicated on the label.

3. As appropriate, children shall be protected from sunburn and insect bites with protective clothing, sunscreen, or insect repellent. Sunscreen and insect repellent may only be applied upon the written authorization of the parent. The authorization shall include the ingredient strength and be reviewed and updated every 6 months. If sunscreen or insect repellent is provided by the parent, the sunscreen or repellent shall be labeled with the child's name. Recording the application of sunscreen or insect repellent is not necessary.

4. Children shall be clothed to ensure body warmth and comfort. Wet or soiled clothing shall be changed promptly from an available supply of clean clothing.

5. Center staff shall adopt and follow universal precautions when exposed to blood and blood-containing bodily fluids and injury discharges.

6. Single use disposable gloves shall be worn if there is contact with blood-containing bodily fluids or tissue discharges. Gloves shall be discarded in plastic bags.

(i) Personal cleanliness.

1. A child's hands shall be washed with soap and warm running water before meals and snacks, after handling a pet or animal, and after toileting or diapering. A child's hands and face shall be washed when soiled. For children under one year of age, hands may be washed with soap and a wet fabric or paper washcloth that is used once and discarded.

2. Persons working with children shall wash their hands with soap and warm running water before handling food, before and after assisting with toileting and diapering, after wiping bodily secretions from a child with a disposable tissue, and after exposure to blood or bodily fluids. If gloves are used, hands shall be washed after the removal of gloves.

3. Personal use items, such as cups, eating utensils, toothbrushes, combs, and towels may not be shared and shall be kept in a sanitary condition.

4. Wet or soiled clothing and diapers shall be changed promptly from an available supply of clean clothing.

5. Applicable rules under s. DCF 251.09(4) (a), (c), and (d) shall apply when children 2 years of age and older require attention for diapering and toileting.

6. If running water is not immediately available when outdoors or on field trips, soap and water-based wet wipes may be used. When running water becomes available, hands must be washed immediately with soap and running water.

7. Disinfecting hand sanitizers may not replace the use of soap and water when washing hands.

(j) Injuries.

1. Written permission from the parent to call a child's physician or refer the child for medical care in case of injury shall be on file at the center. The center shall contact the parent as soon as possible after an emergency has occurred or, if the injury is minor, when the parent picks up the child.

Note: The center may use the department's form, Child Care Enrollment, or its own form for obtaining medical consent from the parent. The form is available on the department's website,

2. A center shall identify a planned source of emergency medical care, such as a hospital emergency room, clinic or other constantly staffed facility, and shall advise parents about the designated emergency medical facility.

3. A center shall establish and follow written procedures for bringing a child to an emergency medical care facility and for treatment of minor injuries.

4. First aid procedures shall be followed for serious injuries.

5. Each center shall have a supply of bandages, tape, and Band-Aids.

6. Superficial wounds shall be cleaned with soap and water only and protected with a bandaid or bandage.

7. Suspected poisoning shall be treated only after consultation with a poison control center.


(a) Animals shall be maintained in good health and appropriately immunized against rabies. Rabies vaccinations shall be documented with a current certificate from a veterinarian.

Note: Service animals used to assist persons with a disability are not considered pets when they are used as a service animal.

(b) Animals that pose any risk to the children shall be restricted from the indoor and outdoor areas used by children.

(c) Licensees shall ensure that parents are aware of the presence of pets and animals in the center. If pets and animals are allowed to roam in areas of the center occupied by children, written acknowledgement from the parents shall be obtained. If pets are added after a child is enrolled, parents shall be notified in writing prior to the pets' addition to the center.

(d) Reptiles, amphibians, turtles, ferrets, poisonous animals, psittacine birds, exotic and wild animals may not be accessible to children.

Note: Psittacine birds are hooked-billed birds of the parrot family that have 2 toes forward and 2 toes backward and include parrots, macaws, grays, lovebirds and cockatoos.

(e) All contact between pets or animals and children shall be under the close supervision of a child care worker who is close enough to remove the child immediately if the pet or animal shows signs of distress or the child shows signs of treating the pet or animal inappropriately.

(f) Pets in classrooms shall be confined in cages while food is being prepared or served in the classroom. Pets, cages and litter boxes are prohibited in kitchens, lunch rooms, and food storage areas. Pet and animal feeding dishes, excluding water dishes, and litter boxes may not be placed in areas accessible to children.

(g) Indoor and outdoor areas accessible to children shall be free of animal excrement.

(h) If dogs or cats are allowed in areas of the center accessible to children, the certificate of insurance required under s. DCF 251.04(2) (g) shall indicate the number and types of pets covered by the insurance.

(i) Licensees shall ensure that the center is in compliance with all applicable local ordinances regarding the number, types and health status of pets or animals.

(8) MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES. A center that includes in its program watercraft, riflery, archery, horseback riding, or adventure-based activities shall comply with the applicable requirements under s. DCF 252.44(8), (9), (11), and (13).

(Cr. Register, January, 1997, No. 493, eff. 8-1-97; CR 03-052: am. (1) (a) (intro.), (2) (b) and (e) (intro.), 1. and 3., Table 46.07 (title), (5) (a) 9., (6) (d) 5. (intro.), (e) 1., 2. and 3., (f) 1., a. and c., (6) (j) 5. and 9. and (k) 5., cr. (5) (a) 9m. and (6) (f) 2., renum. (6) (f) 2. and 3. to be 3. and 4., r. and recr. (7) Register December 2004 No. 588, eff. 3-1-05; corrections in (6) (e), (i) 5., (L), (7) (h) and (8) made under s. 13.92(4) (b) 7, Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635; CR 07-102: am. (1) (a), (2) (e) (intro.), 1., (4) (b), (5) (a) 5. (intro.), (6) (a) 2., (c) (intro.), (e) 2., 3., (f) 1. (intro.), c., 2., (g) 3., (j) 8., 9., (k) 1., 2. and (7) (f), cr. (1) (a) 7., (2) (e) 5., (3) (f), (5) (a) 6m., (6) (f) 5., 6., (i) 6. and 7. Register December 2008 No. 636, eff. 1-1-09. Amended by, 2015 Wis. Act 132: am. (6) (k) 3. Register February 2016 No. 722, eff. 3/1/2016 Amended by, EmR1918: emerg. am. (2) (b), (c), (3) (title), (a) (intro.), cr. (3) (a) 5., r. and recr. (3) (e), cr. (3) (g) to (i), r. and recr. (4) (c), cr. (4) (cm), am. (4) (d), (e), (5) (title), (a) 4., cr. (5) (a) 4m., r. (5) (a) 5. d., cr. (5) (a) 5m., r. (5) (a) 7., am. (5) (s) 8., 9., r. and recr. (5) (b) (title), cr. (5) (b) 3. to 5., renum. (6) (a) 1. to (6) (a), r. (6) (a) 2., am. (6) (b), r. and recr. (6) (c), cr. (6) (dm), am. (6) (e) 1., r. (6) (e) 2., (f) 1. c., 2., r. and recr. (6) (g), r. (6) (h), am. (6) (i) 1. to 3., 5., r. (6) (j) 8., 9., (k), (L), am. (8), eff. 1-30-19; CR 19-089: am. (2) (b), (c), (3) (title), (a) (intro.), cr. (3) (a) 5., r. and recr. (3) (e), cr. (3) (g) to (i), r. and recr. (4) (c), cr. (4) (cm), am. (4) (d), (e), (5) (title), (a) 4., cr. (5) (a) 4m., r. (5) (a) 5. d., cr. (5) (a) 5m., r. (5) (a) 7., am. (5) (s) 8., 9., r. and recr. (5) (b) (title), cr. (5) (b) 3. to 5., renum. (6) (a) 1. to (6) (a), r. (6) (a) 2., am. (6) (b), r. and recr. (6) (c), cr. (6) (dm), am. (6) (e) 1., r. (6) (e) 2., (f) 1. c., 2., r. and recr. (6) (g), r. (6) (h), am. (6) (i) 1. to 3., 5., r. (6) (j) 8., 9., (k), (L), am. (8) Register March 2020 No. 771, eff. 4-1-20; correction in (4) (cm) (intro.) made under s. 35.17, Stats., Register March 2020 No. 771, eff. 4/1/2020 Amended by, correction in (6) (j) 7. (Note) made under s. 35.17, Stats., Register April 2020 No. 772, eff. 5/1/2020)

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