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Family Care and Family Care Partnership Waiver Renewal

Creating the foundation for the next five years of Family Care and Family Care Partnership

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is renewing the Family Care and Family Care Partnership waivers. A waiver is a special set of rules that allows us to have Medicaid programs like Family Care. For Family Care, it includes the 1915(b) and 1915(c) waivers. For Family Care Partnership, it includes the 1915(c) waiver. With them, we can fund more services and supports to help Family Care and Family Care Partnership members stay in their homes and communities.

We must renew the waivers every five years. This is a chance for us to make Family Care and Family Care Partnership better between 2025 and 2030. We can improve policy, services, and other things that can make the programs better for members.

DHS will spend the next year and a half updating the waivers. We’ll get input from members and partners. We will then submit our proposed changes to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) for review and approval.

  Will Family Care and Family Care Partnership change?

We want to use this opportunity to make the programs the best they can be. With your input, we aim to make sure our proposed changes:

  • Reflect recent program and policy changes.
  • Support member choice, self-determination, and access to high quality services.
  • Use cost-effective solutions.
  • Ensure equity within Family Care and Family Care Partnership.

  What’s the timeline?

The renewed waivers will be in effect January 1, 2025. Here’s what will happen between now and then:

  1. June 2023: Partners give input in an online survey
  2. July 2023: Partners give input during online public input sessions
  3. January 2024: DHS finalizes proposed changes and internal approvals begin
  4. March 2024: DHS sends a notice to the state Joint Finance Committee about our intent to renew the waivers
  5. June 2024: 30-day public comment and tribal consultation begins
  6. September 2024: DHS submits proposed changes to CMS
  7. January 2025: The renewed waivers are in effect

  How can I get involved?

Know who we heard from in 2023

DHS invited Family Care and Family Care Partnership members, family, friends, caregivers, providers, managed care organizations, advocates, and other partners to share their input. We heard from:

  • Nearly 250 webinar attendees during two online public input sessions in July. View the presentation slides in English (PDF), Hmong (PDF), and Spanish (PDF).
  • More than 1,500 survey respondents from June to August.
  • Tribal communities during two in-person meetings in July and August.
  • About 25 members of the Member Advisory Group during an online meeting in July.

DHS will use the input we received to draft changes to the Family Care and Family Care Partnership waivers. Thank you to those who shared their input and helped spread the word!

Know what we heard in 2023

DHS heard a lot of valuable feedback. We found six themes in the survey, input sessions, and other outreach. Many of the themes are complex issues. While DHS can’t fix them all through the waiver renewal, we are committed to addressing these issues. Many of these issues have several causes.

However, DHS is committed to addressing these issues. We will use this feedback to find more ways to improve the program.

Six input themes:

  • Transportation: More reliable, flexible, and convenient transportation. This includes more options for self-direction of transportation, and more provider types.
  • Unpaid caregiver support: More support from care teams and the Family Care program to help with feelings of burn out. Members, families, and support people also wanted more options and time for respite care. For example, more respite on nights and weekends.
  • Workforce shortages: Difficulty finding direct care workers, day services, and residential services.
  • Care management: More time with and help from care managers.
    • More contact or time with care managers. This would help care teams get to know members and families better. They would also better understand their goals and values.
    • More knowledge of community resources and services. This would help create better individualized support plans.
    • Keeping the same staff on their care team. Care managers change often. This gets in the way of knowing and trusting their team.
  • Mental health support: More help with mental health needs. Care managers should connect members to resources and services for mental health and emotional support.
  • Knowledge of services: More help with knowing the services and supports program members can get through Family Care. And more help with how to request them from their managed care organization.

Be ready to submit public comments in June 2024

DHS is using the input we received from the survey and during the input sessions to draft changes to the waivers. We will reach back out to members, family, friends, caregivers, providers, managed care organizations, advocates, and other partners in June 2024 for more input.

You'll have a chance to see the waiver renewal application. You'll also be able to submit comments during a 30-day public comment period.

  What are the 1915(b) and 1915(c) waivers?

Together, the 1915(b) and 1915(c) waivers are the rules that make up the Family Care program.

  • The 1915(b) waiver (PDF) describes how Family Care works. This includes service delivery and provider choice.
  • The 1915(c) waiver (PDF) describes Family Care and Family Care Partnership eligibility, services, member rights, and finances.

  Have questions?

Send questions or ideas to

Last revised January 19, 2024