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For Parents

Making healthy child care choices for your kids—at home and away from home—can set the stage for their lifelong success. But choosing child care isn’t easy. Even with help from family and friends, it’s hard to find the child care program that’s right for your family.

That’s why YoungStar does the legwork for you. We rate thousands of child care programs all over Wisconsin, so you can find a program that’s right for your family. Find in-depth information on each program we rate, including their hours, location, accreditation, evaluation history, and any regulatory violations they’ve received.

YoungStar is packed with helpful resources for parents too. Learn more about early childhood education, nutrition, encouraging healthy brain development—everything you need to give your child a promising start in life.

Have questions? Call 1-888-713-KIDS

Give Your Child a Great Start – YoungStar Parent Brochure    English     Spanish


Searching for Child Care

To find a child care provider, simply search the Department of Children & Families Child Care Search . You can choose to review only YoungStar providers or to search all regulated providers, which includes both those in YoungStar and those that are not.

To understand the star rating that providers receive, read more about the star rating system in the YoungStar “Reading the Stars” brochure Spanish

When you review the search results, you may see that some of the child care providers are “Not Yet Rated.” This means they are participating in YoungStar, but have not yet received their YoungStar ratings. This indicator should not be considered a reflection of the quality of care they provide.

In Wisconsin, low-income parents (who are working or participating in other approved activities) can apply to receive assistance paying for child care through the Wisconsin Share program. Visit our Wisconsin Shares webpage for details about this program.

How to Read the Stars – Understanding YoungStar Child Care Quality Ratings Brochure  English     Spanish


Get Clear Child Care Ratings

Looking for a child care program, preschool, day camp, or after-school program? Use YoungStar’s simple 5 Star quality rating system to compare local child care options and find the programs that match your family’s lifestyle, budget, and special needs.

Every other year, YoungStar-rated child care programs go through a 40-point evaluation process, which is specific to each program’s size and structure. For example, a day camp caring for 50 children participates in a different evaluation process than a family child care program caring for three children. The total number of points a program earns determines how many stars it receives.

YoungStar awards up to five stars for the highest quality of care, based on four key categories:

  • The Provider’s Education & Training
  • The Learning Environment & Curriculum
  • The Program’s Business & Professional Practices
  • The Child’s Health & Well-Being

To learn more, download our guide to understanding YoungStar child care quality ratings, 
   English     Spanish


Make Confident Child Care Choices

YoungStar’s five-star rating system is a quick and easy way to compare the child care programs in your community. It’s a snapshot of each program’s quality. But to see the full picture of any child care program, parents should look beyond the stars. Here are a few ways to narrow down your child care options:

Check the Details

YoungStar ratings are based on the points a program earns across four key categories of care. It’s an objective system that values:

  • Educated and well-trained staff.
  • Enriching learning experiences.
  • Professional business practices.
  • Healthy, and nurturing environments.

This means a program can have excellent teachers—but if it’s still working to improve its bookkeeping habits, the program may earn fewer stars. And that makes it essential to know what’s most important to your family.

Check the YoungStar Ratings Details (available online and printed on most YoungStar certificates) to see how many points a program earns in each category. It’s a simple way to make sure the child care program you choose has the qualities you value most.

Ask About Accreditations

Do you want a child care program that keeps up with the best practices in early childhood education? Like programs that have earned 3, 4, or 5 Star ratings through the YoungStar evaluation process, accredited programs have met quality standards that exceed Wisconsin’s minimum regulatory requirements. It’s a completely voluntary process—and a good sign for parents looking for high-quality child care.

YoungStar recognizes accreditations from a variety of well-respected organizations as equivalent to 4 Stars or 5 Stars, including the National Association for the Education for Young Children, the National Association for Family Child Care, and others.

Schedule a Visit

Placing your child in another’s care can be a difficult and emotional decision. Checking a program’s objective YoungStar rating is one way to get peace of mind. Planning a visit to the program you’re considering is another. Our resources for parents can help you prepare.

Here are a few things to look for during your visit:

  • How clean and safe is the environment?
  • Do the children look happy? Are they active and engaged?
  • Does the staff look happy? Do they interact with the kids in a caring and respectful way?
  • How healthy is the food and drink? How many meals and snacks are provided each day?
  • Are there places for your child to play, nap, read, and learn? Can they spend time outdoors?


Find Child Care

Find Child Care

Find the right child care program for your family. Search thousands of YoungStar-rated programs by location, star rating, type of care, and more. It’s easy.

Find Child Care



Still have questions? YoungStar has answers to the questions parents just like you ask the most. It’s the fast and simple way to learn more.

FAQs for Parents

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