Legalities of Babysitting in Wisconsin

By Kimberly Loftin

Choosing the right babysitter to watch your children can make a difference in how you feel about leaving them with a stranger. By understanding the legalities of babysitting in Wisconsin and by confidently choosing a babysitter that follows these guidelines, you may feel more relaxed and reassured that your children are in good care.

The Minimum Babysitter Age

When you look for someone to watch your kids for a few hours and on a casual basis, be aware that the minimum age for a babysitter is 11 years old. While it is not required for anyone in Wisconsin to hold a certificate to be a babysitter, it is highly recommended that those wanting to babysit take a babysitting course. Such courses are offered though Girl Scouts of America or American Red Cross, and the minimum age to enroll is 11.

Day Care Licenses

Anyone wishing to provide day-care services should become licensed. This protects the children since in order to become licensed, the day care is inspected for safety hazards.

Provider / Child Ratio

In licensed home family day cares, there can be up to eight children per one child-care provider. This is to keep things safe and to ensure there are fewer safety hazards, as it can be difficult for one person to care for more than eight children at a time.

Here are the provider per child ratios for licensed child care centers:

0 - 2 years (1:4)

2 - 2 1/2 years (1:6)

2 1/2 - 3 years (1:8)

3 years (1:10)

4 years (1:13)

5 years (1:17)

6 years and older (1:18)

Wages for Wisconsin Babysitters

If a babysitter is under 20 years of age, she is exempt from the minimum wage law. Those under age 20, however, cannot earn less than $4.25 per hour during their first 90 consecutive calendar days of babysitting for one single employer. After that 90 days of employment, or as soon as the worker turns 20 years old (depending on which one comes first), the babysitter must begin to receive minimum wage.

In addition, employers are prohibited to take any action to replace babysitters who turn 20 years old with younger ones, to pay the youth minimum wage.