Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

The Caregiver Law and Rehabilitation Review

Children Reading

Wisconsin’s Caregiver Law may require that a person be barred from operating, working or residing in a licensed or certified facility because of certain crimes, acts or offenses. 

Generally, the Caregiver Law applies to:

  • Any adult convicted of a serious crime.
  • Any juvenile adjudicated delinquent for committing a serious crime.
  • Anyone found to have abused or neglected a child.
  • Anyone found by a unit of government or a state agency to have abused or neglected a client
  • Anyone found by a unit of government or state agency to have stolen the property of a client.

Individuals with a bar may be banned from:

  • Receiving a child care license or certification
  • Receiving a shelter care, child placing agency, group home, residential care center for children and youth or foster home license.
  • Working or residing at any of the above facilities.

For some offenses, a person will be permanently barred. For other offenses, a person will be barred unless they request and undergo a rehabilitation review.

The rehabilitation review allows a caregiver or resident to give evidence that:

  • The person is not likely to do what led to the conviction(s) or finding(s) again,
  • And clients will be safe under the person’s care.

A successful rehabilitation review removes the bar and gives the person the chance to be considered for a license or certification, or to be allowed to work or reside at a facility.  It does not guarantee that a person will be hired, licensed or certified.  A rehabilitation review will appear on a person's future Caregiver background checks.

A successful rehabilitation review does not remove the conviction or finding from a person's record.

The Rehabilitation Review Process

To receive a rehabilitation review, the applicant must submit a Rehabilitation Review Application Packet. Applications are available on the Department of Children and Families (DCF) website. Applicants may also request an application by contacting the Rehabilitation Review Coordinator at 608-422-7041.

Please submit an application to the proper entity:

  • Submit the DCF   application only if interested in working with children. See page 9 of the DCF application for instructions about where to mail the application.
  • If interested in working with adults, submit the Department of Health Services (DHS) application. This application is available on the DHS website.

DCF will appoint a rehabilitation review panel once the application and all the requested documents are received. The application will be denied if all requested documents are not provided within 90 days. The panel may also request information from other agencies or people who are familiar with the applicant.

A rehabilitation review meeting will be scheduled after the panel receives all requested information. The applicant will receive notice of the date, time and location of the meeting by mail.

The applicant is not required to appear at the rehabilitation review meeting, but it is recommended that the applicant attends.  At this meeting, the applicant will have the opportunity to answer questions from the panel. The applicant must provide evidence to convince the panel that the applicant has been rehabilitated.

The panel will make a decision whether the applicant is present at the meeting or not. If the panel decides it does not have enough information to make a decision, it may defer a final decision for up to six months. The applicant will receive the panel's decision in the mail. The panel's decision may be a rehabilitation approval, denial or deferral.

Approval

The rehabilitation review panel may approve the rehabilitation review in whole or with limitations/conditions.

Approval applies only to the specific program(s) the panel indicates in its decision. An approval does not ensure that the applicant will be hired by, receive permission to live at, or be licensed or certified by an entity. If a person fails to meet any of the conditions/limitations of the person’s approval, the approval may be withdrawn

Denial

If the panel does not find enough evidence of rehabilitation, it will deny the applicant's request. The panel will provide its reasons for denial in writing and inform the applicant of the right to appeal the decision.

If the applicant wants to appeal the panel’s denial, the applicant must submit an appeal request in writing within 10 days of the decision. A person who appeals will bear the burden of proving that the agency abused its discretion in the decision making process.

The applicant is not allowed to apply again for the same or similar reason for one year from the date of denial. This one year period applies even if the denial was for failure to submit all documentation.

Deferral

A decision may be deferred up to six months. This is to allow the applicant time to gather more information, complete training/counseling or for other reasons requested by the panel.

Forms

Contacts

Email the Rehabilitation Review Coordinator

Call the Rehabilitation Review Coordinator: 608-422-7041

Department of Children and Families
Office of Legal Counsel
P.O. Box 8916
201 East Washington Avenue, Room G200
Madison, WI 53708-8916

Frequently Asked Questions

Will rehabilitation review approval ensure that a person will be hired by, receive permission to live at, or be granted regulatory approval by a DCF regulated entity?

No. Rehabilitation approval does not ensure that the approved person will receive a license, certification, employment, contracts or permission to reside at the regulated entity. It only lifts the bar so that the individual may be considered like any other person.

What is a rehabilitation review and how does a person request one?

A person is barred from getting a license, certification, employment, contracts or permission to reside at certain DCF regulated entities if the person has committed certain crimes, acts or offenses. A rehabilitation review approval can remove the bar. Anyone wanting a rehabilitation review must follow the directions on the Rehabilitation Review Application found on the DCF website. Applicants may also request an application by contacting the Rehabilitation Review Coordinator at 608-422-7041

Does a previous rehabilitation review approval mean that the bar no longer applies?

Not necessarily. February 1, 2010, a permanent bar was added to several crimes. If a person had a rehabilitation review approval before February 1, 2010, the approval no longer applies if they were convicted of a crime that now carries a permanent bar. The person is barred regardless of whether a rehabilitation review approval was issued before February 1, 2010.

What happens if a person commits a new crime or offense?

The person will need to go through the rehabilitation review process again to remove the bar if they have committed certain crimes, acts or offenses covered by The Caregiver Law