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Wisconsin's QRTP Legislation

As defined by the Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA or Family First), Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP) are for youth with serious mental health or behavioral needs. In Wisconsin, QRTP placements will be utilized only when children and youth cannot receive the appropriate services in their home of origin, or another home-like setting.

What is the status?

bill was introduced in 2019 to the Wisconsin Legislature to provide DCF the authority to develop rules for the operation of QRTPs. Unfortunately, despite bipartisan support and passage in the Assembly, the legislative session ended due to the public health emergency on March 26, 2020, prior to the Senate taking official action on the bill.

What comes next?

DCF is developing an alternative strategy to meet the QRTP requirement which becomes effective October 1, 2021. The QRTP bill will be re-introduced in the next Legislative Session, scheduled to begin in early 2021. DCF is anticipating bipartisan support of this bill.

DCF is also working to develop policies to establish base Wisconsin QRTP requirements to help providers prepare for the October 2021 timeline. This includes working with partner agencies to identify steps necessary to establish a QRTP in Wisconsin. DCF will continue to communicate with partner agencies as plans develop.

What will the QRTP certification look like?

Initially, a QRTP certification will be established. Licensed Group homes and Residential Care Centers will be able to apply for the certification, which will comply with the requirements set forth by FFPSA and by DCF. Facilities will apply for the certification through their Child Welfare Licensing Specialist. More specifics of the process and requirements will be available for our partners in early 2021; please also see the FAQs for QRTP questions and answers.

QRTP Certification Requirements

The Family First Prevention and Services Act (Family First) was signed into law in February 2018. In addition to serving more children and families in-home, Family First also aims at reducing the use of group care settings, such as group homes and residential care centers, by narrowing the use to children and youth who require a high level of care due to certain medical and behavioral health needs. The law also requires states to establish new group facilities called Qualified Residential Treatment Programs (QRTP) to provide such care.

While Wisconsin is still determining what QRTP settings will look like, federal requirements outline basic components required for QRTP facilities. As Wisconsin makes more decisions, that information will be communicated to the provider network.

QRTP Case Practice Considerations for County Workers

Federal Requirement

Wisconsin Implementation


Changes to Permanency Plan related to QRTP settings

Sec. 202 (D)(3)

Caseworkers will be required to document efforts related to family, placement in QRTP settings, efforts to return the child home and/or to a lower level of care, and continued appropriateness of placement in QRTP settings, among other requirements.

The team will be working with county stakeholders identified by the WCHSA PAC and DMCPS to determine necessary eWiSACWIS changes.

Likely in October 2021 release.

60-day court approval of placement in QRTP setting for each youth

Sec. 202 (D)(2)

DCF is working with CCIP and stakeholders to determine process

Timelines are not yet determined.

Extended placement process

Sec. 202 (D)(5)

For any child who is placed in QRTPs over 12 consecutive months, or 18 nonconsecutive months (or 6 months for youth under age 13), an Extended Placement Process must exist that ensures the placement continues to be appropriate. This must be signed by the Secretary of DCF for the continued placement of the youth in the setting.


Assessment Tool: Assess the strengths and needs of the child using an age-appropriate, evidence-based, validated, functional assessment tool approved by the Secretary

Sec. 202. (c)(1)(A)(i)

Wisconsin has chosen the CANS tool.

Updates to Ongoing Standards to reflect this new requirement will be made by October 2021.   

Qualified Individual to complete the Assessment

Sec. 202. (c)(1)(D)(i)

Wisconsin has chosen to apply for the waiver. Wisconsin believes the child’s assigned caseworker will maintain objectivity, using the CANS and other measures, to determine the most effective and appropriate placement for a child.

The Waiver will be submitted to the Children’s Bureau by the end of Q4 2020.

Child’s Family and Permanency Team

Sec. 202. (B)(ii) B

Youth who are in QRTP placements are required to have a family and permanency team (roles specified in FFPSA). Documentation of efforts are required in eWiSACWIS and changes to reflect FFPSA will be made in Ongoing Standards.

eWiSACWIS and Ongoing Standards changes will be made by October 2021 release