Starting Up a Residential Care Apartment Complex (RCAC)

The Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) in the Department of Health Services (DHS) serves the frail elderly, persons with developmental disabilities, mental illness, physical disabilities, sensory disabilities, and persons with substance abuse problems. Regulation of facilities primarily serving adults is the responsibility of the Division of Quality Assurance (DQA). DQA is responsible for administering Wis. Admin. Code ch. DHS 89, as required by Wis. Stat. ch. 50, which governs the registration/certification of RCACs.

A Residential Care Apartment Complex means "a place where five or more adults reside that consists of independent apartments, each of which has an individual lockable entrance and exit, a kitchen, including a stove, and individual bathroom, sleeping and living areas, and that provides, to a person who resides in the place, not more than 28 hours per week of services that are supportive, personal and nursing services."

All housing arrangements meeting the RCAC definition must be registered or certified.

Certified RCACs may serve private pay tenants and tenants who receive public funding. Registered RCACs may serve only private pay tenants. Any RCAC wishing to establish eligibility for Medicaid waiver reimbursement must be certified.

The Division of Quality Assurance (DQA) does not refer tenants for placement in assisted living facilities nor does the DQA provide funding to facilities to care for tenants. Tenants may be eligible to receive waiver funding through county Departments of Health or Human Services. For more information regarding funding for tenants in assisted living, please visit the following websites:

In an effort to ensure the Bureau of Assisted Living (BAL) is utilizing resources effectively, the Bureau conducted a systems analysis of the initial application process for community-based residential facilities (CBRFs), 3-4 bed adult family homes (AFHs), residential care apartment complexes (RCACs), and adult day care center providers.

Subsequent to the analysis, BAL determined that revision of the application materials and processes for the above provider types was needed to increase the efficiency of the licensing/certification/registration process.

Effective July 17, 2017, assisted living applicants will utilize the revised application materials and processes for any initial license/certification/registration or change of ownership.

Review DQA Revised Licensing, Certification, and Registration Licensing Information, P-01854 (PDF) for additional information.

Registration/Certification Terminology

Established Provider: A provider who previously or currently operates the facility type for which an application for licensure or certification is being made.

New Provider: A provider who has never held a license or certification for the facility type for which an application for licensure or certification is currently being made.

Attestation Prior to Onsite: BAL will require every applicant to complete an applicant compliance statement prior to scheduling an onsite licensing survey.

Fit and Qualified Application: Applicants will submit a completed fit and qualified application with the application.

Inactive Application: Applications not completed within six months of submission will be closed out.

Incomplete Application: If the application does not include the required documents, the application packet will be returned to the applicant without further processing. BAL will include a checklist identifying the missing item(s). The applicant may choose to resubmit the application with the required documentation. After a second unsuccessful submission, no further applications will be accepted from this applicant for the specified location for a period of one year.

Two Revisions: An application is not considered complete until all required documentation that meets regulations have been submitted. If the required documents do not meet the licensing/certification regulations, BAL will only send two revision letters per application. After a second unsuccessful revision, no further applications will be accepted from this applicant for the specified location for a period of one year.

Prior to Applying to be Registered or Certified

To apply for certification or registration as an RCAC:

Plan Review:

The Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) considers RCACs multifamily dwellings subject to the State Building Code. New construction "stand-alone buildings" must comply with the requirements of the DSPS. A Plan Submittal Kit developed by the DSPS may be obtained by contacting the DSPS at 608-266-3151 or your local DSPS Field Office.

RCACs connected to CBRFs, nursing homes or hospitals require building plan review and approval by the DHS. 

For information contact:

Division of Quality Assurance
Bureau of Health Services
Plan Review Intake
P. O. Box 2969
Madison, WI 53701
Phone: 608-264-7748

All RCACs must comply with applicable statutes, rules and regulations including local zoning ordinances.

Registration/Certification Application

Registration Application:

Upon receipt of a satisfactorily completed application and other requested documents, a Certificate of Registration will be issued.

Certification Application:

Once the application is deemed complete, the BAL central licensing unit will send an Applicant Compliance Statement, F-02110 (Word) to the applicant. When the applicant is ready for an onsite inspection, the applicant will return the completed compliance statement to central licensing and an assisted living surveyor will be assigned.

Applications not completed within six months of submission will be closed out.

If the application does not include the required documents, the application packet will be returned to the applicant without further processing. BAL will include a checklist identifying what item(s) are missing. The applicant may choose to resubmit the application with the required documentation. After a second unsuccessful submission, no further applications will be accepted from this applicant for a period of one year from the date the application was received.

Conversion:

Any applicant who is seeking to convert an area that is a nursing home or community based residential facility (CBRF) to an RCAC must submit additional information as specified in Wis. Admin. Code § DHS 89.61.

Caregiver Background Checks

Caregiver background checks must be completed at least every four years.

  • The Caregiver Background Check Process website includes information on Wisconsin Administrative Codes Chapter DHS 12 Caregiver Background Checks; Chapter DHS 13 Reporting and Investigation of Caregiver Misconduct; copies of forms and answers to frequently asked questions.

The Department will complete caregiver background checks on the following persons prior to initial licensure and every four years thereafter:

For non-government entities

  • The owner of the entity, whether or not the person has regular, direct contact with clients. If the owner is a corporation or other type of business that does not have a single owner, then the organization may designate one principal officer to legally represent the organization for the purposes of fulfilling the background check requirement. For new applicants, the individual who signs the application fulfills this requirement.

  • Principal officers, corporation or board members of the business organization, who have regular, direct contact with clients.

  • Non-client residents (over age 10) of the entity who have regular, direct contact with clients.

For government and tribal entities

  • An individual, e.g. the entity administrator designated by the government agency or tribe who operates the entity, whether or not the person has regular, direct contact with clients.

  • Non-client residents (over age 10) of the entity who have regular, direct contact with clients.

New applicants for licensure must submit a Background Information Disclosure (BID) form and BID Appendix form for each individual as described above, following the Caregiver Background Check Process.

The entity must complete a caregiver background check on all caregivers. A caregiver is a person who is all of the following: Employed by or under contract with an entity; Has regular, direct contact with the entity's clients or the personal property of the clients; and is under the entity's control. "Direct contact" is defined as face-to-face physical proximity to a client that affords the opportunity to commit abuse or neglect or misappropriation of a client’s property.

A completed caregiver background check consists of:

  • A completed Background Information Disclosure (BID);

  • Response from the entity's inquiry to the Department of Justice; and

  • The letter from DHS containing information regarding any government findings of misconduct or credential limitations.

Copies of background checks for anyone covered under this rule must be available for review upon Department request.

Fees

There is no fee for RCAC registration. For certification, the base fee is $445, plus $7.60 for each apartment unit every year. The certification fee is submitted with the application and made payable to "DQA."

All fees are non-refundable.

Return the application, other materials and fee to:

Division of Quality Assurance
Attn: Licensing Associates
P.O. Box 7940
Madison, WI 53707-7940

Address any questions to the Licensing Associates at DHSDQABALLicensing@dhs.wisconsin.gov or 608-266-8482.

Additional Information

Refer to the RCAC website for more information.

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC): Starting a Business in Wisconsin

Last Revised: August 18, 2017