Applying for a license.
Serious incident reporting.
Care of foster children.
Foster parent handbook.
Foster home level of care certification.
Foster parent training.
Licensing agency responsibilities.
Child's treatment team for Levels 3 to 5.
Agency contact with foster parent.
Agency contact with foster child.
Evaluation of Level 3 to 5.
Respite care for foster parents.
Assessment of needs and strengths.
Supplemental payments, exceptional payments, initial clothing allowance, and retainer fee.
Ch. DCF 56 Note
Sections PW-CY 40.60 to 40.65 as they existed on March 31, 1983 were repealed and a new chapter HSS 56 was created effective April 1, 1983. Chapter HSS 56 as it existed on February 28, 2002, was repealed and a new chapter HFS 56 was created, Register February 2002 No. 554
, effective March 1, 2002. Chapter HFS 56 was renumbered to chapter DCF 56 under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 1., Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635
This chapter is promulgated under the authority of ss. 48.62
, 48.64 (4)
, and 48.67
, Stats., to establish licensing requirements for foster homes and foster parents directed at protecting the health and safety and promoting the welfare of children placed in the homes; to establish a fair hearing procedure for foster parents; to establish requirements for certification of a foster home with a level of care and requirements for assessment of a child's needs and strengths; and to establish criteria for making supplemental and exceptional payments to foster parents.
A license to operate a foster home does not entitle the holder to placements of children who need foster care since placement decisions are based on a variety of factors, including the compatibility of what a specific child needs with what a particular foster parent can offer.
DCF 56.01 Note
Note: Public licensing agencies are required to provide a foster home license to any applicant who meets the requirements under this chapter. An agency is not, however, required to place children with a licensee simply by virtue of the fact that they have a foster home to license.
DCF 56.01 History
History: CR 00-020
: cr. Register February 2002 No. 554
, eff. 3-1-02; EmR0937
: emerg. am. (1), eff. 1-1-10; CR 10-021
: am. (1) Register September 2010 No. 657
, eff. 10-1-10; EmR1050
: emerg. am. (1), eff. 1-1-11; CR 10-148
: am. (1) Register August 2011 No. 668
, eff. 9-1-11.
To whom the rules apply.
This chapter applies to all persons proposing to provide or who are providing foster care for children in a foster home and to the department; county agencies under s. 46.215
, or 46.23
, Stats.; and licensed private child-placing agencies.
A licensing agency may grant an exception to any requirement in this chapter if the licensing agency determines that the exception will not jeopardize the health, safety or welfare of the foster children, except that the licensing agency may not grant an exception to any of the following requirements: ss. DCF 56.04 (1)
, (4) (a) 1.
, or 9.
or (b) 2.
, 56.05 (1) (a)
, (b) 1. b.
, 2. b.
, or g.
, (c) 1. b.
, or 2.
, or (3) (a)
, 56.07 (3) (a)
, (4) (b)
, or (h)
, (5) (a)
, or (10) (a)
, 56.08 (1)
, (6) (c) 1.
or 4. a.
, (7) (a) 3.
, (8) (a)
, or (c)
, or (10m)
, 56.09 (1)
, (1m) (a)
, (2) (c)
, (4) (c)
, or (12) (a)
, 56.13 (1)
, (4) (a) 1.
, or (b)
, (5) (a)
, (b) 1.
, (6) (a)
, (b) 1.
, 56.14 (1)
, (8) (a)
or (b) 3.
, 56.21 (2)
, or 56.23
An applicant or licensee wanting an exception to a nonstatutory requirement in this chapter that the licensing agency has authority to grant shall submit a written request to the licensing agency stating the specific provision of this chapter for which an exception is requested, the justification for the requested exception and an explanation of any alternative provision planned to meet the intent of the requirement.
Any exception granted under subd. 2.
or par. (b)
shall be specifically cited on the license and shall be in effect only as long as the conditions under which the exception was granted remain but no longer than 2 years from the date on which the exception is granted or the date the license terminates, whichever occurs first, by which time the licensing agency shall determine if there is continued justification for the exception. In addition, the licensing agency may impose conditions to be met within a specified period of time by the licensee as an alternative to compliance with the requirement for which an exception has been granted.
An applicant or licensee wanting an exception to a nonstatutory requirement in this chapter that the licensing agency may not grant may ask the department exceptions panel to grant the exception, with the approval of the licensing agency. A request for an exception under this paragraph shall be in writing on a form prescribed by the department.
DCF 56.02 Note
Copies of the Department's request form, “Application to DCF Exceptions Panel for Exception to Ch. DCF 56
," can be obtained from the licensing agency or by visiting the Department's website at: https://dcf.wisconsin.gov/cwportal/fc/forms
Any request under subd. 1.
shall include all of the following information:
The citation for the specific requirement for which an exception is requested.
An explanation of any alternative provision planned to meet the intent of the requirement.
The signature of the applicant or licensee and the date on which the applicant or licensee signed the request.
The applicant or licensee shall submit the completed request form to the licensing agency.
In the space indicated on the exception request form, the licensing agency's authorized representative shall state whether the licensing agency supports the request, does not support the request, or supports some alternative to the request and shall justify the licensing agency's position and sign and date the request form.
If the licensing agency approves the request or some alternative to the request, the licensing agency shall submit the completed request form to the department within 10 working days after the agency's receipt of the request form from the applicant or licensee. The licensing agency shall not submit to the department any request that it does not support.
The department exceptions panel shall, in writing, indicate its approval or disapproval of the request within 10 working days after the department receives the request form from the licensing agency and has all the information required to make its decision.
Notwithstanding subd. 6. a.
, the department exceptions panel shall, in writing, indicate its approval or disapproval of an application for certification to operate a Level 5 foster home under s. DCF 56.13 (7) (a)
within 45 working days after the department receives the application from the licensing agency and has all the information required to make its decision.
The department exceptions panel shall consist of at least 3 persons who collectively are knowledgeable about the foster care program, licensing practices and any special needs of children who may be served by the applicant for an exception.
The chairperson of the panel shall be designated by the director of the department's
bureau of permanence and out-of-home care.
The panel chairperson shall designate the remaining members of the panel.
(c) Non-safety-related waiver for relatives.
The licensing agency or the department exceptions panel may grant a waiver to the following non-safety-related requirements for the relative of a child without an alternative provision to meet the intent of the requirement:
The licensing agency may grant a waiver to any requirement in s. DCF 56.04 (4) (a) 7.
, 56.05 (4)
, 56.07 (2)
, (4) (a) 1.
, or (8)
, or 56.09 (4) (g) 1.
, or (10) (b)
, or (f)
DCF 56.02 History
History: CR 00-020
: cr. Register February 2002 No. 554
, eff. 3-1-02; CR 03-033
: am. (2) (a) 1. Register December 2003 No. 576
, eff. 1-1-04; correction in (2) (a) 1. made under s. 13.92 (4) (b) 7.
, Stats., Register November 2008 No. 635
: emerg. am. (2) (a) 1., (b) 5., 6., 7. b., cr. (2) (c), eff. 1-1-10; CR 10-021
: am. (2) (a) 1., (b) 5., 6., 7. b., cr. (2) (c) Register September 2010 No. 657
, eff. 10-1-10; EmR1050
: emerg. am. (1), (2) (a) 1., (c) 1., eff. 1-1-11; CR 10-148
: am. (1), (2) (a) 1., (c) 1., renum. (2) (b) 6. to be (2) (b) 6. a., cr. (2) (b) 6. b. Register August 2011 No. 668
, eff. 9-1-11; EmR1633
: emerg. am. (2) (a) 1., eff. 11-18-16; CR 16-051
: am. (2) (a) 1. Register July 2017 No. 739
, eff. 8-1-17; CR 21-107: r. and recr. (2) (b) 4. Register June 2022 No. 798, eff. 7-1-22; correction in (2) (a) 1. made under s. 35.17, Stats., Register June 2022 No. 798.
DCF 56.03 Definitions.
In this chapter:
“Aftercare plan" means a plan for transition services for a child that identifies services that will be provided after the child's discharge from a foster home to ensure continuity in the management of the child's needs.
“Age or developmentally appropriate activities” means activities that are generally accepted as suitable for children of a given chronological age or level of maturity or that are determined to be developmentally appropriate for a child based on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for children of a given age or age group or, in the case of a specific child, activities that are suitable for the child based on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of that child.
“Algorithm" means a composite score based on items demonstrated to be relevant to decision making on a particular topic such as level of need or service provision.
“Applicant" means a person who applies for a license to operate a foster home, for renewal of a license to operate a foster home or for modification of a license to operate a foster home.
“Basement" has the meaning prescribed in s. SPS 320.07 (8)
, namely, that level below the first or ground floor level with its entire floor below exit discharge grade.
“Basic maintenance payment" means a payment to reimburse a foster parent for the cost of a foster child's food, clothing, housing, basic transportation, and personal items, as follows:
For care and maintenance provided for a child of any age by a Level 1 foster home, $220.
DCF 56.03 Note
Note: Beginning on January 1, 2018, the basic maintenance payment for a child of any age in a Level 1 foster home is $238.
For care and maintenance provided by a foster home that is certified to provide care at a level of care that is higher than Level 1 care, an age-related foster care payment established by s. 48.62 (4)
“Case plan" means the service plan for the child and family, of which the permanency plan is a part.
“Child" means a person who is under 21 years of age who is placed in a foster home under juvenile court jurisdiction, other court order, or an agreement.
“Complete bathroom" means a bathroom with at least one toilet, one sink, and one tub or shower.
“County agency" means a county department of social services under s. 46.215
, Stats., or a county department of human services under s. 46.23
“Dangerous weapon" means any firearm, any device designed as a weapon and capable of producing death or great bodily harm, any electric device designed to immobilize or incapacitate persons by the use of electric current, any spray device designed to immobilize or incapacitate persons by the use of chemicals or other liquids or gases or any other device or instrument that is calculated or likely to produce death or great bodily harm.
“Department" means the Wisconsin department of children and families.
“Department exceptions panel" or “exceptions panel" means the group authorized to grant exceptions under s. DCF 56.02 (2)
to nonstatutory requirements of this chapter.
“Emergency care" means care provided for a foster child on the basis of 24-hour availability, including crisis intervention services and emergency placements.
“Family" means the birth parents, adoptive parents, relatives of the child, and other individuals who were permanently living with the child before the child's placement in out-of-home care.
“Family interaction plan” means a plan developed by a placing agency to promote a child's interaction with members of the child's family and includes interaction by face-to-face contact; telephone calls; letters; emails; and attendance at routine activities, such as counseling sessions, medical appointments, school events, and faith-related activities.
“Final substantiated finding" means all of the following:
A final determination made after January 1, 2015, that a person has abused or neglected a child under s. 48.981 (3) (c) 5m.
, Stats., and s. DCF 40.04
if the final determination has not been reversed or modified on appeal.
A determination made before January 1, 2015, that a person has abused or neglected a child under s. 48.981 (3) (c) 4.
, Stats., if the determination has not been reversed or modified on appeal.
“Foster care" means care and maintenance provided to a child in a foster home pursuant to a court order, voluntary placement agreement, or voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement.
“Foster child" means a child placed for care and maintenance in a foster home by the department, a county agency, a licensed private child-placing agency or a court by court order, voluntary placement agreement, or voluntary transition-to-independent-living agreement.
“Foster parent” means a person with primary responsibility for the care and supervision of one or more foster children placed in the foster home and in whose name the foster home is licensed under this chapter.
“Group home" means a facility operated by a person licensed by the department to provide 24-hour care and maintenance for 5 to 8 children under s. 48.625
“Guardian" means the person or agency appointed by a court to make major decisions affecting a child which may include consent to marriage, to enlistment in the armed forces and to major surgery.