DSL Memo Series
Supercedes DCS 90-06
August 2, 1999
STATE OF WISCONSIN
Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Supportive Living
County Departments of Community Program Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Regional Field Operations Directors
Regional Field Operations Supervisors
Regional Office Licensing/Certification Specialists
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
Sinikka McCabe, Administrator
Re: COMMUNITY ADVISORY COMMITTEE
Chapter 72, Laws of 1981 mandates that applicants for
a license to operate a Community-Based Residential Facility (CBRF), make a good faith
effort to establish a community advisory committee prior to the Department of Health and
Family Services (DHS
) issuing an initial license. The purpose of the committee is to
establish a forum for communication between the facility operator, neighbors of the
proposed facility and representatives of the local unit of government. This memo series
defines "good faith effort," "neighborhood," the purpose of the
advisory committee, committee composition and the Departments criteria for enforcing
this statutory requirement. Attached to this memo is form
DSL-367, that should be used by license applicants to document the means by which they
made a good faith effort to establish a community advisory committee prior to initial
This memo supersedes Memo Series DCS 90-06 dated February 16, 1990 and DCS 89-17, dated
March 29, 1989, which are no longer in effect. The changes in this memo incorporate
the original interpretation of Chapter 72, Laws of 1981, which was contained in the
initial Memo Series DCS 82-14, dated March 18, 1982.
50.03 (4) (g)
Prior to initial licensure of a CBRF, the applicant for licensure shall make a good
faith effort to establish a community advisory committee consisting of representatives
from the proposed CBRF, the neighborhood in which the proposed CBRF will be located and a
local unit of government. The community advisory committee shall provide a forum for
communication for those persons interested in the proposed CBRF. Any committee established
under this paragraph shall continue in existence after licensure to make recommendations
to the licensee regarding the impact of the CBRF on the neighborhood. The Department shall
determine compliance with this paragraph both prior to and after initial licensure.
These statutory requirements cover CBRFs under s. 50.01, Wisconsin Statutes.
The intent of this statute is to provide an opportunity for the neighborhood residents
in which a Community Living Arrangement (CLA) is being planned to participate on an
advisory committee with representatives of the proposed CLA. The committee is advisory to
the license applicant (or licensee if the facility is issued a license). The active
functioning of such a committee can be a vital means of communication between the
community and the CLA. However, the Legislature recognized that in some neighborhoods,
residents may not wish to participate on such an advisory committee and the statutory
language provides for this option.
1. In General. These statutes require each
license applicant to make a good faith effort prior to initial licensure to establish a
community advisory committee consisting of representatives of the proposed facility,
neighborhood and local unit of government. They also provide for the continued existence
of such a committee after licensure.
2. "Good Faith Effort." This
term is not defined in this statute. Elsewhere in the Wisconsin Statutes, "good
faith" is defined as "honesty in fact in the conduct or transaction
concerned." The dictionary definition equates "good faith" with
"sincerity." Wisconsin case law indicates that "good faith" is
properly determined based upon a general course of conduct and a careful analysis of facts
on a case-by-case basis. There is no firm formula for determining whether an applicant has
made a "good faith" effort to establish a community advisory committee. However,
meeting with area neighbors or distributing literature about the proposed program for the
first time within a few days prior to initial licensure is not considered to be a good
3. "Neighborhood" and "local
unit of government." These terms are not defined in this statute.
"Neighborhood unit" is defined elsewhere in the statutes as "a primary
residential district having the facilities necessary for well-rounded family living, such
as schools, parks, playgrounds, parking areas and local shopping districts." The
Wisconsin Supreme Court has stated that the boundaries of a neighborhood can only be
determined on a case-by-case basis.
"Local unit of government" is defined in different ways in different sections
of the statutes. The term may reasonably be interpreted to include counties, cities,
villages and towns.
4. Purpose of Community Advisory Committee.
This statute states that community advisory committees "shall provide a forum for
communication" and "make recommendations." It is clear from this language
that community advisory committee actions are not to be considered binding on the
licensee. Since the language of the statute clearly indicates that the purpose of the
community advisory committee is to make recommendations to the licensee regarding the
impact of the residential facility or group home on the neighborhood, this function must
be considered as the minimum "charge" to, or responsibility of the committee. Of
greatest significance in the functioning of the community advisory committee, all existing
laws protecting the confidentiality persons receiving treatment for mental illness,
developmental disabilities or alcohol or drug abuse (s. 51.30) and CBRF residents (s.
50.09 (1) (f)(3)) must be adhered to by the license applicant (licensee), and other staff
of the facility at all times. The committee shall not become a forum for screening
referrals for placement of new residents or discussing current residents.
5. Committee Composition. This statute does
not indicate specific individuals who must serve, or must be invited to serve, on the
community advisory committee. Discretion in membership and membership invitation is left
to the applicant or licensee. The only requirement as to membership is that the applicant
makes a good faith effort to include representatives from the facility, neighborhood and a
local unit of government. If a good faith effort is made and representation from all of
these groups cannot be secured, the community advisory committee can be formed anyway and
will meet the statutes continuing existence requirement.
The Department is charged with the responsibility of determining compliance with
Chapter 72, Laws of 1981, and will do so through the licensing process. An initial license
may not be issued to a CBRF unless the requirements of Chapter 72, Laws of 1981, have been
1. Initial License Application.
Prior to initial licensure, the Departments sole determination is whether the
applicant has made a good faith effort to establish a community advisory committee
consisting of representatives of the facility, neighborhood and local unit of government.
In itself, the fact that the applicant has not succeeded in establishing such a committee
does not determine non-compliance. The Department may reasonably require the applicant to
show documentation of the good faith effort. Examples of what may constitute this good
faith effort include, but are not limited to, the following:
a. Documentation that persons were invited to participate on the committee.
b. Literature prepared and distributed to area neighbors, merchants, etc., describing
the purpose and formulation of the committee.
An announcement about the formulation of the committee at a general meeting with area
neighbors, merchants, etc.
d. House calls (in person or by phone) to area neighbors, merchants, etc., explaining
the purpose and formulation of the committee.
e. A list of committee members.
f. Minutes from committee meetings.
g. Results of committee actions.
2. Continuing Compliance.
a. If a committee is established prior to initial
licensure, the statutes provide for the committee continuing in existence after licensure.
This necessitates continued efforts by the licensee to foster the continued existence of
the committee. However, in many instances committees established under this subsection may
reach a point in their functioning that regularly scheduled meetings are no longer
necessary. When this situation develops the committee may reduce its frequency of meetings
to a level that is agreeable to the committee and continues to fulfill the purpose of the
committee. For example, the committee may opt to place itself on an ad hoc status and to
be convened only if situations arise that should appropriately be addressed by the
committee. This approach to the committees reduced "ongoing" functioning
would constitute compliance with the statutory requirement for the committee to continue
in existence after licensure. However, any choice for reduced committee functioning must
be agreed to by the committee as a whole and not an action solely by the licensee. If the
committee has chosen to continue on a reduced functioning basis, a statement to that
effect signed by the committee members is recommended for verification purposes.
b. If a Committee is NOT Established. If the
licensee was unsuccessful in establishing a community advisory committee prior to initial
licensure and, the licensor is satisfied that a good faith effort was made, then the
statutory requirement has been met and the licensee need not make future attempts to
establish this type of committee. Documentation of the good faith effort must be
maintained at the facility.
Form DSL 367 "Community Advisory
Committee" shall be completed by the license applicant, and a copy of all
correspondence related to these requirements shall be sent to the DSL Licensing
REGIONAL OFFICE CONTACT:
Regional Licensing/Certification Specialists
CENTRAL OFFICE CONTACT:
La Vern Woodford,Chief
Resident Care Review Section
cc Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
County Tribal Aging Units
Program Office Directors/Section Chiefs
Attachment: Form DSL 367
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