Wisconsin has a rich history of honoring consumer choice and providing supports for people to live in the least restrictive setting possible. Beginning with the enactment of the Community Option Program (COP) in 1981 and through the creation of Family Care in 1999, Wisconsin has been a national pioneer in relocation efforts from institutions to community settings. Connections to Community Living is a continuation of this philosophy. In 1980 Wisconsin ranked 2nd nationally in the number of nursing homes beds per capita with 87 nursing home beds per 1,000 residents 65 years of age and over. Thirty years later that ranking has improved to 20th nationally with 46 nursing home beds per 1,000 residents 65 years of age and over, an improvement of 47%.
Key federal events driving this initiative include:
- 2001 "New Freedom Initiative" (Exit DHS),
- 2005 "Deficit Reduction Act (DRA)" (Exit DHS),
- 2009 "Year of the Community" (Exit DHS), and
- 2012 establishment of the Administration for Community Living (ACL) (Exit DHS).