Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities




Foster Home Licensing Worker Information

Foster parents play a critical role for children, families, and agencies. The foster parent’s primary task is to temporarily care for a child until the child’s permanence goal is achieved.  The foster parent’s role is also unique and involves much more.

Foster parents are expected to comply with:

  • Agency requirements
  • Meet foster home licensing standards
  • Communicate any important information about the child to the caseworker and the court

Counties, tribes and private agencies license foster parents in Wisconsin.

Foster Parent Requirements

Foster parents must meet all of the following:

  • 21 years of age or older
    • unless the foster parent is a relative to the child to be placed, which has other age requirements
  • Responsible adult
  • Criminal background check, law violations, and other background information requirements
  • The foster home must meet all physical environment requirements
  • There is no minimum income requirement for foster parents, as long as they can take care of family expenses outside of the reimbursement received for fostering

Foster parents are also required to complete foster parent training commensurate with their level of care certification.

Foster care coordinators work most closely with the foster homes licensed by their agency. Foster care coordinators will make sure foster families follow the foster care rules and policies.

Chapter DCF 56 Administrative Code

Complete foster home licensing requirements are listed in Chapter DCF 56, Administrative Code. All licensed foster parents must comply with these requirements. Chapter DCF 56 outlines the following requirements for foster home licensure:

  • Who must apply for a license
  • Applying for a license
  • Licensing qualifications
  • Background check requirements
  • Physical environment requirements
  • Safety considerations
  • Level of Care certification of the foster family
  • Training for the foster parents.

Chapter DCF 56 Foster Home Care for Children describes the requirements for licensing foster homes in Wisconsin.

  • DCF 56 Family Foster Care For Children describes the requirements for licensing foster homes in Wisconsin. This version of DCF 56 includes boxes and asterisks to easily differentiate between:
    • licensing agency exceptions and waivers
    • exceptions and waivers DCF Exceptions Panel must review
  • DCF 56 Family Foster Care for Children - Annotated Version provides policy interpretation of the licensing requirement(s) for licensing foster homes in Wisconsin. This version of DCF 56 includes boxes and asterisks to easily differentiate between:
    • licensing agency exceptions and waivers
    • exceptions and waivers DCF Exceptions Panel must review

Background Check Requirements

Background checks are one of the main safety mechanisms in the licensing process. Both federal and state laws establish requirements for all prospective and licensed foster parents to ensure child safety.

Complete background check requirements can be found in Wisconsin Statutes:

The foster home licensing agency will conduct background checks at initial and relicensure. There are six required types of background checks:

  • Adam Walsh (FBI)
  • Adam Walsh Child Protective Services (CPS)
  • Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ)
  • Caregiver or IBIS Check
  • Reverse Address Sex Offender registry check
  • Local Law Enforcement Checks

In addition to these background check requirements, licensing agencies may have their own policies which require additional background checks.

Background Check Resources and Training

Form DCF 12 Negative Action Notice (DCF-F-CFS2191-E) is used when denying or revoking a foster care license based on a background check violation.

Foster Care and Subsidized Guardianship Barred Crimes is a list under Wisconsin Statute Chapter 48.685

The Background Check Reference Table describes the six required types of background checks.

The process to upload background checks into eWiSACWIS can be found in the Quick Reference Guide: Background Check Imaging.

Module 4 of the Foster Care Coordinator Pre-Service training explains the background check process in relation to licensing foster parents.

The Coalition for Children, Youth, and Families has a recorded four-part background check training provided by the Department of Children and Families. This can be viewed by contacting the Coalition through email at info@coalitionforcyf.org

Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian tribes are sovereign nations, which means they can create their own laws and regulations for certain programs or services. While some tribes use state licensing requirements, others have their own standards and policies. Foster parents licensed by and agencies working with a tribe should contact the tribal agency to learn about the tribe’s policies.

Foster Home Recruitment

All licensing agencies are required to recruit for foster homes.  The Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center (FCARC) can assist licensing agencies in recruiting foster homes.  The FCARC offers a variety of resources related to foster home recruitment:

Staff at the FCARC can also be reached by telephone at 1-800-762-8063.

Foster Parent Licensing Forms and Publications

Foster Care Forms & Publications for Workers - is a comprehensive list of forms and publications for use by Wisconsin Foster Care Workers in licensing foster home parents.

Foster Home Licensing Resources

There are a variety of resources available, which can assist licensors in licensing foster homes.

Foster Care Coordinator Training: The Foster Care Coordinator Pre-Service Training is an online training, which describes all of the requirements for licensing a foster home.  Licensors should review this training prior to licensing their first foster home.

The Foster Care and Adoption Resource Center (FCARC) offers a variety of resources that can assist licensing agencies.

The Structured Analysis Family Evaluation (SAFE) policy describes the requirements for using a standardized home study for all foster care licensing and all adoption approvals. See Policy Memo 2016-34 for reference.

The Documentation Requirements for Foster Care Providers in eWiSACWIS policy describes the requirements for documentation foster care providers in eWiSACWIS. See Policy Memos 2015-02  and 2016-34 for reference.

eWiSACWIS Quick Reference Guides:
Provides detailed instructions for entering the required in formation into eWiSACWIS.

Contact Information

Contact the licensing agency or the foster care coordinator for more information about licensing foster parents in Wisconsin.

Out-of-Home Care Specialist
Bureau of Permanence and Out-of-Home Care
Division of Safety and Permanence
Telephone: (608) 422-6937
Fax: (608) 422-7157