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Child Care Subsidy Maximum Rates

The provisions in Act 20 provide sufficient funding in SFY15 to bring the Wisconsin Shares maximum reimbursement rates for licensed child care programs to within 18% of the 75th percentile of the market rate survey. The new Wisconsin Shares maximum reimbursement rates are effective beginning on November 9, 2014.

Below is a table that shows the division of the counties/tribes into the 4 rate zones.

A (0-24%) B (25-49%) C (50-74%) D (75-100%)
Adams Ashland Calumet Brown
Bayfield Bad River Tribe Douglas Dane
Buffalo Barron Fond du Lac Eau Claire
Burnett Chippewa Jefferson Kenosha
Clark Columbia Manitowoc La Crosse
Florence Crawford Marathon Milwaukee
Forest Dodge Outagamie Oneida Tribe
Iowa Door Ozaukee Racine
Juneau Dunn Portage Rock
Kewaunee Grant Sauk Waukesha
Lac du Flambeau Green Sheboygan Winnebago
La Courte Oreilles Green Lake Walworth  
Lafayette Iron Washington  
Marquette Jackson Wood  
Menominee Langlade    
Oconto Lincoln    
Pepin Marinette    
Polk Monroe    
Price Oneida    
Red Cliff Tribe Pierce    
Sawyer Richland    
Shawano Rusk    
Sokaogon St Croix    
Stockbridge-Munsee Waupaca    

Rates by County can also be found by using the interactive map.

Frequently Asked Questions

How are the counties divided into the urban rate zones?
The counties are grouped together based on the percentage of the population living in urban areas. United States Census reports are used to calculate the percentage.

What is the divisor?
A divisor indicates the weekly number of hours for full-time care. In the past, the counties were able to choose a divisor of either 30, 35 or 40. The divisor has been standardized to be 35 for all counties/tribes.

How will the divisor being set at 35 impact the maximum rate and the amount authorized for child care?
The provider will reach the full-time county/tribal rate when s/he providers at least 35 hours of care. In counties, where the divisor was set at 30, providers must be caring for the child 5 hours more than in the past to reach the full-time rate. In counties that used 40 as the divisor, the provider reaches the full-time amount in 35 hours instead of 40. Counties/tribes, that used 35, there is no change.

The maximum rates in my county/tribe had decreased and now my private-pay rates are higher than the county reimbursement rates. Who is going to pay the difference?
The parents are responsible to pay the difference between the authorized amount and the price the provider charges from the private-pay parents.

The maximum rates in my county/tribe have increased. I am a provider. Should I raise my rates to match the reimbursement rates?
The providers must charge the same rate for private-pay and subsidized parents. Before raising her/his rates, the provider must realize that this might create a burden for private-pay parents.

Why is DCF making all of these changes?
These changes were implemented to make the Wisconsin Shares program more equitable and efficient across the state.  The number of parents needing financial assistance to pay for child care has grown along with the cost of child care.

What are other states doing?

  • Only 14 states nationwide set rates at the 75th percentile.  Of those 14 states, only 8 states based their maximum payment rates on the results of the most recent survey.  Wisconsin is among these states.  This data is documented in the National Women’s Law Center report.
  • State spending on child care assistance declined in 2004 for the first time since the passage of welfare reform in 1996.  In 2004, a total of 30 states cut child care assistance, compared to only 19 states the previous year. Cuts in these 30 states totaled over $600 million.  Wisconsin did not reduce the level of child care funding. 
  • Eleven states have maintained the same provider rates since 2001 according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO).  Michigan has not raised rates in 10 years.  Illinois has not raised rates for 6 years. The GAO report.
  • 31 states reported that they serve all eligible applicants.  20 states reported that they do not.  14 of the 20 states indicate that they cannot serve all eligible applicants and have established waiting lists and give non W-2 low-income families the lowest priority. (GAO Report)

Updated February 15, 2016

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.