Start Your Search

There are many options for child care in Madison. Below is a summary of the types of child care on- and off-campus, and tools to help you find the best solution for your family.

For more resources on preparing to attend school while raising young children, please see our Prospective Student Parent page.


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How much does child care cost?

See Budgeting for Child Care for more information on child care fees and cost estimates.

Is child care guaranteed to students, faculty, or staff?

Attending or being employed at UW-Madison does not guarantee a spot at a child care center. Living in Eagle Heights or University Housing does not guarantee enrollment at a campus child care center.

However, all UW Campus and Network Child Care Centers prioritize enrollment for children of students, faculty, and staff. UW also has a partnership with Reach Dane’s Satellite Family Child Care Providers, and there are over 60 licensed and/or accredited providers in Dane County that can work with students, faculty, and staff.

Our office also has many resources on this page to help you navigate your search, and we are happy to answer your questions! Contact us or schedule an appointment.

How long is the average waitlist?

Child care is in high demand in Madison and Wisconsin, especially for infant care (0-2 years-old) and waiting lists may be 6-12+ months long.

We recommend getting on multiple waitlists to increase your chances of finding a child care provider. Family child care providers may have more flexibility and open spaces than traditional child care centers.

Can your office help me find child care?

Please contact the child care center or provider directly with questions or for information about availability, waitlists, or current fees.

We are happy to help if you have general questions about how child care works on campus or need help navigating your options. Please contact us or schedule an appointment.

What is the difference between certified, licensed, and accredited child care?

These are all types of regulation for child care providers.

Licensed providers are licensed by the state of Wisconsin.

Accredited providers are licensed by the state of Wisconsin and have gone through a rigorous national accreditation process.

Certified providers are not licensed by the state of Wisconsin but volunteer to be regulated. They care for fewer than three children under the age of seven. While they can receive Wisconsin Shares child care subsidies, they cannot receive Child Care Tuition Assistance Program (CCTAP) awards.

You can see Regulation Type for child care providers in Youngstar, Wisconsin’s child care provider database, or ask the child care provider if they are licensed or accredited.


How do I find a nanny or a babysitter?

Student parents, please note that nannies and babysitters are not eligible to receive funding from the Child Care Tuition Assistance Program (CCTAP).

Our office is unable to provide references to nannies or babysitters due to lack of regulations and oversight for these providers.

Child Care Options

Child Care Centers in Madison or Wisconsin

Child care centers typically serve preschool-aged children between 0-5 years-old. Follow the link to use child care search tools to find providers in Wisconsin or Madison.

UW Campus Child Care Centers

There are three UW-Madison child care centers located on campus. Each center is licensed and accredited to ensure the highest quality care.

Space is limited, especially for infant care, and acceptance is not guaranteed.

UW Network Child Care Centers

UW partners with 6 additional licensed and accredited high-quality child-care centers so UW-Madison families have even more options when it comes to finding child care. These centers are located close to campus or on-campus.

Family Child Care Providers

Family providers care for children in their own home, and may offer more flexible scheduling and lower rates. UW-Madison contracts with to Satellite Family Child Care System to provide accreditation and oversight to 60+family child care providers.

School Aged Care (5+ Years)

Learn more about 4-Year-Old Kindergarten, before-and-after school programs, or how to find care for winter, spring, or summer breaks.

Hourly/Backup Child Care

Hourly/Backup Child Care is best for when you need short-term or unexpected care for when your regular child care provider is ill or unavailable, for running short errands or attending meetings, etc.

Emergency/Crisis Child Care Options

If your family is experiencing a crisis situation (death in the household, job loss, sudden closure of your child care provider) you may be eligible for emergency child care funding.

Emergency Student Parent Child Care Grant

For urgent (but not crisis) child care needs, please see our hourly/backup child care section.