Finding and Choosing an Adult Family Home

What is an Adult Family Home?

An Adult Family Home (AFH) is a place where adults who are not related to the operator reside and receive care, treatment or services that are above the level of room and board and that may include up to seven hours per week of nursing care per resident. The minimum age requirement for residing in an AFH is 18 years.

  • This definition pertains only to three-bed and four-bed AFHs, which are regulated by the Department of Health Services (DHS), Division of Quality Assurance (DQA).
  • One- and two-bed AFHs are regulated by individual county Human Services departments.

AFHs are a type of Assisted Living.

What Services Are Provided by an Adult Family Home?

AFHs can admit and provide services to people of advanced age, persons with dementia, developmental disabilities, mental health problems, physical disabilities, traumatic brain injury, AIDS, alcohol and other drug abuse, correctional clients, pregnant women needing counseling and/or the terminally ill.

Licensing Information

Three- and four-bed AFHs are licensed under Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 88.

All AFHs must adhere to Wis. Admin. Code chs. DHS 12 and DHS 13 – Caregiver Background Checks and Allegation Reporting.

The penalty for AFHs under Wis. Stat. ch. 50, that are not in compliance with state laws governing them is license revocation.

Learn more about DHS's role in regulating AFHs.

Looking for an Adult Family Home?

Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC): ADRCs provide information on broad range of programs and services, help people understand the various long-term care options available to them, help people apply for programs and benefits, and serve as the access point for publicly funded long-term care. These services can be provided at the ADRC, via telephone, or through a home visit, whichever is more convenient to the individual seeking help.

County-By-County Directories of Wisconsin Residential Care Providers: Locate a health or residential care provider in a specific county.

DHS Provider Search: Locate a health or residential care provider and obtain compliance history information.

Statewide Adult Family Home Directories

Learn about terminology included in the facility directories below using the Assisted Living Directories and Glossary of Terms.

Compliance Information

Choosing Wisconsin Residential Care Options: Learn more about the compliance history of individual facilities for the four assisted living provider types regulated by DHS. Additional details are located on the Assisted Living Facility Profile Basic Information page.

DHS Provider Search: Locate a health or residential care provider and obtain compliance history information.

Assisted Living Facility Survey Guide

Complaints Regarding Wisconsin Health and Residential Care Providers

DQA is responsible for assuring the health, safety, and welfare of persons using health and residential care provider services in Wisconsin. If any individual believes that a caregiver or DQA regulated provider has violated state or federal laws pertaining to regulated entities, that individual has the right to file a complaint.

Client Rights

Wisconsin Client Rights: Anyone who is receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability, or substance abuse in the state of Wisconsin has specific rights under Wis. Stat. §§ 51.61 and 51.30 (State Alcohol, Drug Abuse, Developmental Disability and Mental Health Act).

Advance Directives: An advance directive describes, in writing, your choices about the treatments you want or do not want or about how health care decisions should be made for you if you become incapacitated and cannot express your wishes.

Resources for Choosing an Assisted Living Facility

DHS does not refer residents for placement in assisted living facilities. The links below to state and national resources may be useful in selecting an assisted living facility.

More help

Caregiver Center, from the Alzheimer's Association, provides online resources and a telephone helpline that can help you determine your care needs and care options.

Thinking of Moving to an Assisted Living Residence? (PDF) This guide from the Coalition of Institutionalized Aged and Disabled and the Nursing Home Community Coalition of New York State provides those thinking of moving to an assisted living residence with questions to ask and things to consider.

Last Revised: March 14, 2022