Overall Policy Lever Score


The history of 4-year old kindergarten in Wisconsin public schools goes back to the 1848 State constitution (Article X, Section 3). The licensing standards have differing qualification requirements for the center director (responsible for the child care program) based on the size of the program. Licensing also mandates specific qualifications for the center administrator (responsible for the day-to-day management of the center).  These roles can be filled by the same person. At a minimum, licensing requires directors to have two department-approved professional development courses, 80 days of teaching experience, and within one year of hire, completion of one course in the Wisconsin Child Care Administrator Credential. At a minimum, the center administrator must have a year of management experience or a department-approved professional development course in business or program administration plus one year of experience working in a licensed child care center. The administrator credential consists of 6 specific 3 semester-hour courses. Elementary principal licensure requires a master’s degree and pre-K certification is available, requiring pre-K content. Wisconsin’s QRIS is based on a point system with 33 to 40 points at the highest tier. Six points are possible for director qualifications ranging from completion of an 18 semester hour apprenticeship program (1 point) to a bachelor’s degree plus the administrator credential (6 points). School-based state Pre-K programs require principal licensure, however community-based programs do not have specific administrator requirements. There are two leadership academies but no early childhood leadership degree programs in Wisconsin.


The interactive map at the right shows the density of child care directors by county (2012 Workforce Dataset: A Review of Workforce Trends, National Workforce Registry Alliance).


Interesting Facts: Wisconsin

  • In licensed centers serving 51 or more children, directors must attain the Wisconsin Child Care Administrator Credential within three years of hire.

  • Coursework for the Wisconsin Child Care Administrator Credential is offered at 7 technical colleges and 2 university locations throughout the state.

  • The Wisconsin Registry System offers additional early childhood credentials in Leadership and Program Development.