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

               DCFS Memo Series 2004-10
              June 14, 2004





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


Kitty Kocol

Document Summary

This memo explains changes to the Adm. Code Ch. HFS 56, "Foster Home Care for Children."


In December 2003, the Department’s 2002 Omnibus Administrative Rule revision was approved by the Legislature. This revision made three changes to Ch. HFS 56, Adm. Code, "Foster Home Care for Children." Licensing agencies are now authorized to grant exceptions to s. HFS 56.04(4)(a)3. and
HFS 56.07(4)(d) and can grant waivers to s. HFS 56.05(4)(a). Ch. HFS 56 is amended to read:

HFS 56.02(2)(a)1. 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, safely or welfare of the foster children, except that the licensing agency may not grant an exception to any of the following requirements: s. HFS 56.04 (1), (2), (4) (a) 1., 2., 3., 4., 5., 8., or 9. or (b) 2., (6), (7) or (8); s. HFS 56.05 (1) (a), (b) 2., (c) 2., 3., 4., 5., 6., 7. or 9., (d), (f) (3) (a) or (4) (a); s. HFS 56.07 (3) (a), (4) (b), (c), (d), (e), (f), (g) or (h), (5) (a), (6) or (10) (a); s. HFS 56.08 (1), (2), (3), (4), (5), (6) (c) 1., 2., 3. Or 4.a., (7) (a) 3., (8) (a) 1. Or 2., or (c) or (10); s. HFS 56.09 (1), (2) (c), (3), (4) (c) or (d), (5), (9), (11) or (12) (a), (c) or (d); or s. HFS 56.11.

More specifically, agencies may now grant exceptions to the following requirements:

HFS 56.04(4)(a)3. Health examination documentation that all household members are in good health as required under s. HFS 56.05(1)(e)

HFS 56.07(4)(d) Each bedroom occupied by a foster child shall have a minimum floor space of 40 square feet per child.

Additionally, agencies may now grant waivers to the following requirement:

HFS 56.05(4) HOMEOWNER’S OR RENTER’S LIABILITY INSURANCE. (a) Except as provided under sub. (5), before a foster home license is issued or renewed, the applicant for an initial license or the foster parent applying for renewal of a license shall furnish proof to the licensing agency of having homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance as required under s. 48.627(2)(a), Stats.

Granting an exception to a rule requirement is different than granting a waiver. An exception means that the intent of the rule requirement must still be met in an alternate manner. A waiver means that the rule requirement does not need to be followed. Waivers should only be granted in rare and special circumstances and are only applicable to 56.05(4) and (5) regarding homeowner’s or renter’s liability insurance. Exceptions must be documented on the foster home or treatment foster home license according to 56.02(2)(a)3.

These changes, which we requested on behalf of County Foster Care Coordinators, should facilitate the licensing process. The printed copies of HFS 56 and the Annotated Version are in the process of being updated.



Assistant Area Administrator


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


BRL Regional Supervisors
County Foster Care Coordinators
Directors, Private Child Placing Agencies

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