Finding and Choosing an Adult Family Home

What is an Adult Family Home?

An Adult Family Home 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 Adult Family Home is 18 years.

  • This definition pertains only to three-bed and four-bed Adult Family Homes, which are regulated by the Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance.
  • One-bed and two-bed Adult Family Homes are regulated by individual county Human Services departments.

 Adult Family Homes are a type of Assisted Living.

What Services Are Provided by an Adult Family Home?

Adult Family Homes 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-bed and four-bed Adult Family Homes are licensed under Chapter DHS 88, Wisconsin Administrative Code.

All AFHs must adhere to Chapters DHS 12 and DHS 13, Wisconsin Administrative Code - Caregiver Background Checks and Allegation Reporting.

Department licensing specialists inspect Adult Family Homes every two years, via unannounced surveys. However, a facility may be visited between these inspections, if there are any complaints received by the department.

The penalty for Adult Family Homes under Chapter 50, Wis. Stats., that are not in compliance with State laws governing them is license revocation.

Learn more about the Department's role in regulating Adult Family Homes.

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 more about the information and terminology included in the facility directories listed below.

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 the Department. Learn more about the information included on the facility profiles.

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

Assisted Living Facility Survey Guide (PDF)

Complaints Regarding Wisconsin Health and Residential Care Providers

The Department of Health Services Division of Quality Assurance is responsible for assuring the health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of Wisconsin.  If any individual believes that a caregiver, agency, or Department regulated facility 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 Wisconsin Statute 51 (State Alcohol, Drug Abuse, Developmental Disability and Mental Health Act) subsections 51.61 and 51.30.

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

The Department of Health Services 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

Wisconsin Coalition for Collaborative Excellence in Assisted Living (WCCEAL) is a coalition that is dedicated to improving the outcomes of individuals living in Wisconsin's Assisted Living Facilities.

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: September 14, 2017