Senator Spencer Coggs (D-Milwaukee) is introducing a bill that will require the Department of Children and Families (DCF) to improve its investigation and inspections of illegal child care centers, establish a hotline to receive reports of illegal child care centers and improve the public education and information to parents on the dangers of using illegal child care centers.
Any citizen can care for up to three children and remain unlicensed. However, under Wisconsin law no person, with the exception of a relative or guardian, may provide care and supervision, for money, for four or more children under the age of seven unless that person obtains a child care center license from the Department of Children and Families.
Over a year’s time five children have died in illegal child care centers. Senator Coggs said, “Children are our most vulnerable population, yet over the past year these five children’s deaths are unacceptable and unnecessary tragedies”
The bill also adds two staff positions to be used by the DCF to identify and investigate alleged illegal child care centers, get them licensed or closed and permits unannounced DCF inspections to ensure compliance.
The public will also be able to report the activities of illegal child care through the state’s toll free hotline number. “Unlicensed child care providers are a fact of life in many of our communities, so it is crucial that the DCF provide better education and information to parents on the importance of the choice they are making when they choose a child care provider.” said Senator Coggs
Coggs hopes that this legislation will help produce more quality in child care. Sen. Coggs added, “I am introducing this bill because too many parents are not sure what the difference is in quality and care. They don’t realize that the regulations and training required by the state of child care providers helps ensure a safe and educational environment for the children in their custody. My bill will help make certain that our children are protected from illegal child care providers and that parents are better informed.”