STATE OF WISCONSIN
Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services

                  DCFS Memo Series 2004-06
                  February 24, 2004

       Re:     EFFECTIVE DATE OF FOSTER 
                 HOME LICENSES AND TITLE IV-E
                 IMPLICATIONS; AUTHORIZATION
                 TO CONDUCT CRIMINAL
                  BACKGROUND CHECK

               (Supersedes Memo DCFS-2002-14)

 

To:

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

From:

Kitty Kocol
Administrator

 

DOCUMENT SUMMARY

 This memo explains the time frames for granting a foster home license, the process for backdating foster home licenses and related Title IV-E implications on HSRS and WiSACWIS, and documenting authorizations for and conducting of criminal background checks.

 

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, the implications for data system reporting, and requirements related to documentation of authorization for criminal background checks.

Time Frame for Granting a License

The foster home licensing rule, s. HFS 56.04(5)(a), establishes a timeframe for an agency to process a completed application for foster home licensure: "…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." "Completed application" means all of the information required to make a decision on the license with the exception of the results of the criminal or other background check, formalized assessment, and any references. An applicant can be considered licensable when the agency has all of the information necessary to approve the application, including the results of the criminal background check and the required documents outlined in Ch. HFS 56, Adm. Code, "Foster Home Care for Children."

Backdating Foster Home Licenses

The effective date of a foster home license can be backdated to the date on which the agency has all of the information needed to make a decision on the license. However, the effective date of the license can be backdated for no more than 60 days from the date that a decision was made to issue a license. Under state law, a court can place a child in an unlicensed home for up to 30 days; there is no provision for this 30-day limit to be extended. [Ref. s. 48.345(3)(b), Stats.] A common scenario is where the court places a child with an unlicensed family and the family then submits an application for licensure. Oftentimes, licensing agencies will backdate 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.

Example 1 – Child Placed in the Home Prior to Receipt of Application

A child is placed in an unlicensed home on June 1. The family submits a completed application on June 7. The agency receives the results of the background check on June 15 and the references on June 16. The agency then reviews all the material and makes a decision on June 30 to issue the license. The license can be backdated to June 16 because that was the date that the last information needed to make a decision was received.

Example 2 – No Child Placed in the Home

A family submits a completed application on June 1. The agency receives the results of the background check on June 15. The references do not arrive until July 4. The agency then reviews all the material and determines that additional information is necessary. That additional information is received on July 17. The agency, because of high workload, does not make a decision on the application until August 8. The license can be backdated to July 17, because that was the date that the last information needed to make a decision was received.

Example 3 – Child Placed in the Home After Completed Application Submitted

A family submits a completed application on June 1. The agency receives the references and the results of the background check on June 15. A child is placed in the home on June 21. The agency then reviews all of the information and determines on July 12 that the licensing requirements have been met. The license can be backdated to June 15.

Example 4 – Child Placed in Home; Gathering Additional Information

A family submits an application on June 1. The child is placed on June 5. On July 5, information is provided, but needed supplementary information is not provided until July 17. Based on the results of the criminal background check, formalized assessment, and references, a decision on the license is made October 8. The license can only be backdated for 60 days to August 9.

Impact on Claiming for Title IV-E

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 federal Title IV-E regulations [Ref. s. 45 CFR 1355.20], the State can claim Title IV-E reimbursement for only up to 60 days between the date the agency has all of the information it needs to make a licensing decision and the date the license was actually issued. If it takes more than 60 days after the date the agency has all the information it needs to issue the license, Title IV-E reimbursement can only be claimed for 60 days following the date that all of the information was needed to issue the license. For purposes of Title IV-E claiming, it is important to minimize the period of time that placements are not licensed and to issue licenses within 30 days (if a child is present) or 60 days (if a child was not present initially) from the date when licensing requirements were met.

Example 1 – Child Placed in the Home Prior to Receipt of Application

A child is placed in an unlicensed home on June 1. The family submits a completed application on June 7. The agency receives the results of the background check on June 15 and the references on June 16. The agency then reviews all the material and makes a decision on June 30 to issue the license. The license can be backdated to June 16 because that was the date that the last information needed to make a decision was received. Federal law allows IV-E claiming for the entire month of June even if the home was licensed for only part of the month. Therefore, claiming can be done back June 1, when the child was placed.

Example 2 – Child Placed in the Home After Completed Application Submitted

A family submits a completed application on June 1. The agency receives the references and the results of the background check on June 15. A child is placed in the home on June 21. The agency then reviews all of the information and determines on July 12 that the licensing requirements have been met. The license can be backdated to June 15 and claiming can begin effective June 21 when the child was place in the home.

Example 3 – Child Placed in Home; Gathering Additional Information

A family submits an application on June 1. The child is placed on June 5. On July 5, information is provided, but needed supplementary information is not provided until July 17. Based on the results of the criminal background check, formalized assessment, and references, a decision on the license is made October 8. The license can only be backdated for 60 days to August 9. Claiming IV-E reimbursement can begin on July 17th and can continue until September 15th, claiming reimbursement would end on September 16th and continue on October 8th when the license was issued.

Any periods during which children are placed in unlicensed homes or instances where the issuance of the license is more than 60 days after the receipt of a completed application will affect how placements are recorded in the HSRS and WiSACWIS data systems and the determination of Title IV-E reimbursability for the placements.

Impact on Reporting

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

Title IV-E Status:  For any period for which Title IV-E reimbursement cannot be claimed due to the foster home being unlicensed or the license being issued more than 60 days after receipt of the completed application, children who are otherwise Title IV-E Eligible will be not reimbursable for that period. The child's Title IV-E status during this period 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 into 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 Statewide Eligibility Unit (SEU), SEU staff will make the necessary Title IV-E status adjustments to HSRS or WiSACWIS. Counties not participating in the SEU must make the Title IV-E status adjustments directly. Agencies participating in the SEU may be requested to provide licensing file documentation at the time of a IV-E redetermination.

Documentation of Authorization for Criminal Background Checks

Pursuant to s. HFS 12.10, Adm. Code, "Agencies and entities shall retain all required completed department background information forms in a manner that ensures prompt retrieval of the forms for inspection and shall comply with applicable federal and state confidentiality laws." In order to fulfill this requirement, the background information form [HFS-64] and the results of the criminal and other background check must be maintained in the licensing file related to each foster home or treatment foster home. The results of the criminal background check may be kept in a different file, but it must be placed in the licensing file in the event of a state or federal review since this is the file that will be reviewed as part of the Title IV-E eligibility and reimbursability review process and other review processes. If this information is not available in this file, it could result in a finding that the placement is not reimbursable and thus reduce Wisconsin’s claim to the federal government.

 

REGIONAL OFFICE CONTACT:

Area Administrator

CENTRAL OFFICE CONTACTS:

 

Foster Care Program

Sarah) Kate Johnson
Out-of-Home Care Specialist
DHFS/DCFS/BPP
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 266-6874
FAX: (608) 264-6750
E-Mail: johnssk@dhfs.state.wi.us

Title IV-E Program

Susan McLeish
IV-E Program Specialist
DHFS/DCFS/BPP
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 264-8525
FAX: (608) 266-0260
E-Mail: mcleism@dhfs.state.wi.us

cc:

BPP Adoption Staff
County Foster Care Coordinators
Contact Persons, Private Child Placing Agencies
Sally Hanko Dees, BRL
Sandy Palmgren, Maximus


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