Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services

        DCFS Memo Series 2002 - 14
         October 25, 2002

               FOSTER HOME LICENSES 
                AND IV-E IMPLICATIONS



Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities 
          Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Licensing Chiefs/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Susan N. Dreyfus

Document Summary


This memo explains the process of backdating foster home licenses and related Title IV-E implications on HSRS and WiSACWIS.


This memo provides direction regarding the effective date of foster home licenses, including the time limit for backdating a license, the implications for Title IV-E reimbursement of placement costs, and the implications for data system reporting.

The foster home licensing rule, Ch. HFS 56.04 (5), establishes a timeframe for an agency to process a foster home application that states, "…within 60 days after receiving a completed application for a foster home license, for renewal of the foster home license or for license modification, the licensing agency shall approve the application, deny the application or approve the modification." An applicant can be considered licensable when the agency has all of the information necessary to approve the application including the required documents outlined in Ch. HFS 56, Adm. Code, "Foster Home Care for Children." In most cases, this occurs when the licensing agency receives the caregiver background check results; consequently, the earliest that a license can be considered effective is the date that the background checks were received by the county. Background checks must be done in a timely manner consistent with the timelines established in HFS 56.

A foster home license can be back-dated up to, but no more than, 60 days from the date when the agency reviewed the necessary information and determined that the licensing requirements were met, regardless of whether a foster child was already placed with that family. The effective date of the foster home license can be dated only back to the date that licensing requirements were met. A common scenario is where a child is placed by a court with an unlicensed family and the family then submits an application for licensure. Oftentimes, licensing agencies will back-date the license to the day on which the child was placed. This is not permissible, because the agency clearly did not have the necessary information to make a licensing decision before the application was received and the background checks were completed and received by the county.

The license effective date is a significant issue with regard to the state's ability to claim Title IV-E funds for placement costs. Title IV-E reimbursement cannot be claimed for unlicensed placements. In addition, according to the federal Title IV-E rule 1355.20 CFR, the State can claim Title IV-E reimbursement for only up to 60 days between the date a prospective foster family satisfied licensing requirements (i.e. the effective date of the license) and the date the license was actually issued. If it takes more than 60 days to issue the license, Title IV-E reimbursement can only be claimed for the most recent 60 days prior to the license being issued. However, for Title IV-E reimbursement purposes, if a placement is reimbursable for part of the month, then Title IV-E reimbursement can be claimed for the entire month. To maximize Title IV-E claiming, it is important to minimize the period of time that placements are not licensed and to issue licenses within 60 days of the date when licensing requirements were met. If there are months when the State cannot claim Title IV-E reimbursement for placement costs for otherwise Title IV-E eligible children, those non-reimbursable periods also affect the amount of Title IV-E reimbursement the State can claim for administrative costs.

Example: A child is placed on July 15th, the foster home application is submitted on July 25th, the background checks were completed and the results on file August 5th and the foster home license is issued on September 15th. The effective date of the license should be August 5th. For the period of July 15th through August 5th, the child is in an unlicensed placement. Title IV-E reimbursement cannot be claimed for the July placement costs. Since the license was effective in August and issued within 60 days of when licensing requirements were met, Title IV-E reimbursement can be claimed for all of the August placement costs.

Periods that placements are in unlicensed homes or instances where license issuance exceeds the 60-day Title IV-E limit will affect how placements are recorded in the HSRS and WiSACWIS data systems and the determination of Title IV-E reimbursability for the placements:

HSRS impacts:

Placements: The backdating policy does not affect how placements are entered in HSRS.

Title IV-E status:  For any month for which Title IV-E reimbursement cannot be claimed due to the foster home being unlicensed or the licensed being issued after 60 days, children who are otherwise Title IV-E Eligible will be not reimbursable for those months. The child's Title IV-E status during these months must be entered as Eligible Not Reimbursable (E) in the system.

WiSACWIS impacts:

Placements:  If for a period of time the placement is unlicensed, the placement will have to initially be entered as an unlicensed placement and subsequently entered as a licensed placement with the same foster home consistent with the effective date of the foster home license. Staff will need to make the necessary placement entries directly in WiSACWIS.

Title IV-E status:  For both unlicensed placements and situations where the license issuance exceeds the 60-day limit, the child's Title IV-E status in WiSACWIS must be changed to Eligible Not Reimbursable (E), the same as HSRS.

For counties participating in the Centralized Eligibility Unit (CEU), CEU staff will make the necessary Title IV-E status adjustments to HSRS or WiSACWIS. Counties not participating in the CEU must make the Title IV-E status adjustments directly.

Agencies participating in the Centralized Eligibility Unit may be requested to provide licensing file documentation at redeterminations. In addition, DHFS is planning to conduct reviews of county licensing files by the Office of Strategic Finance regional Area Administration staff beginning in Fall 2002.


Area Administrator


(Sarah) Kate Johnson
Out-of-Home Care Specialist
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 266-6874
FAX: (608) 264-6750


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