Child Welfare Licensing

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), is responsible for licensing and monitoring the three types of children's residential programs listed below. The purpose of the program is to promote the health, safety and welfare of children in community care arrangements. The Department ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of programs.

  • Group Homes for Children: facilities operating to provide 24-hour care for 5-8 children or youth. Licensed by DCF under Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 57.
  • Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth: child welfare agencies that provide residential care and treatment for children, youth and young adults. Licensed by DCF under Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 52.
  • Shelter Care Facilities: short-term, non-secure residential care and physical custody of children pending court action. Licensed by DCF under Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 59.

In addition, the Department licenses private Child Placing Agencies, which are child welfare agencies licensed to place children in licensed foster homes, and licensed group homes. Child placing agencies are licensed by DCF under Wisconsin Administrative Code DCF 54. Child placing agencies may license their own foster homes (under DCF 56).


Licensing Rules & Manuals | Related Links | Memos | Forms & Publications


The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.