Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

Level of Care Certification Information

All foster parents are given a Level of Care certification during the foster care licensing process based on meeting the following:

  • Qualifications
  • Training
  • Foster parent references
  • Foster parent experience

There are five Levels of Care. Each Level of Care certification has a specific number of training hours, personal references, and experience requirements. Each foster parent must complete training requirements in accordance with their Level of Care certification. Training requirements fall into three categories: pre-placement, initial licensing, and ongoing.

The Level of Care certification does not necessarily need to match the Level of Need of a child placed in the home. The Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) tool will help determine the type of service provision needed to support a placement at a lower assessed level for a child.

The applicant or licensee should be involved in deciding which Level of Care certification to pursue. For additional information about the certification levels review the following:

Levels of Care Certification Requirements

Level 1

Level 1 certification is reserved for child-specific licenses only. To be child-specific, it requires the person to be:

  • A relative of the child OR
  • Have a prior relationship between the foster parent and the child or the child’s family.

While Level 1 is reserved solely for child-specific licenses, foster parents may have a child-specific license at any level. There are no prior experience requirements or references required for Level 1 applicants.

Level 2

Level 2 foster care is referred to as basic foster care. These applicants are required to provide 3 favorable references from non-related individuals.

Level 3

Level 3 certification is considered moderate treatment foster care, which is foster care that can provide additional supervision and care to children with higher needs than those in basic foster care. Level 3 applicants must submit three favorable references from non-related individuals and one favorable reference from a relative, preferably an adult child. Level 3 foster parents are also required to meet three of the prior experience requirements

  • A minimum of 1 year of experience as a foster parent or kinship care provider (with a child placed in the home for at least 1 year)
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience working with or parenting children
  • A minimum of 500 hours of experience as a respite care provider
  • A high school diploma or the equivalent
  • A college, vocational, or technical advanced degree in an area related to a child’s treatment needs such as nursing, medicine, social work, or psychology
  • A previous existing relationship with the child through professional or personal experience
  • Work or personal experience demonstrating the knowledge, skills, ability, and motivation to meet the needs of a child with a level of need of 3

Level 4

Level 4 is considered specialized treatment foster care, which is structured to meet the higher needs of children and often addresses specific population needs, such as teen parents or youth with sexually aggressive behaviors. Level 4 applicants must submit three favorable references from non-related individuals and one favorable reference from a relative, preferably an adult child. Level 4 foster parents are also required to meet four of the prior experience requirements:

  • A minimum of 1 year of experience with children who have a Level of Need of 3 as a foster parent or kinship care provider
  • A minimum of 5 years of experience working with or parenting children
  • A minimum of 500 hours of experience as a respite care provider
  • A high school diploma or equivalent
  • A college, vocational, or technical advanced degree in an area related to a child’s treatment needs, such as nursing, medicine, social work, or psychology
  • A previous existing relationship with the child through professional or personal experience
  • Work or personal experience demonistrating the knowledge, skills, ability, and motivation to meet the needs of a child with a level of need of 3

Level 5: Shift-Staffed Treatment Foster Care

Level 5 is considered exceptional treatment foster care, and is also sometimes referred to as “shift-staffed” foster care. These foster homes have staff members who work in rotating shifts to care for the children. Level 5 foster homes are generally created to meet the needs of specific children who need care into adulthood and the home becomes the adult resource. All Level 5 foster homes must receive prior approval from the DCF Exceptions Panel. The form DCF-F-2559-E - Application for Certification and Child Placement Level 5 Foster Home, is used prior to and during the licensing process as well as for the re-licensing of the facility.

For more information please refer to Administrative Code DCF Chapter 56.13(7).

DCF Process for Submitting Information to the Level 5 Panel

Please send ALL emails to the Level 5 inbox at DCFL5FHRequests@wisconsin.gov. In the subject line of each email, please include the following information:

Type of request (choose from the following list):

  • New Home
  • New Placement
  • Renewal
  • Respite Request
  • SIR
  • Question
  • Licensing Agency
  • Address/Name of Home

Subject Line Examples:

  • New Placement, Family Works, Pike Drive
  • SIR, LSS, Paddington
  • Question, LSS, Paddington

Restrictive Measures Forms:

Additional Resources:

Levels of Care Contact Information:

Out-of-Home Care Specialist
Bureau of Permanence and Out-of-Home Care
Division of Safety and Permanence
Telephone:  (608) 422-6937
Fax:  (608) 266-0260