Regulations, Wisconsin, WI CH 88
Aug 16, 2023

WI DHS 88: Enhancing Care and Standards in Wisconsin's Adult Family Homes

Picture of Abby Kimmelman
by Abby Kimmelman

What is Wisconsin Chapter DHS 88?

This chapter outlines the regulations and rules governing Adult Family Homes (AFHs) in the state of Wisconsin. The regulations cover various aspects of AFH operations, including licensing, staffing, care and services, resident rights, health and safety standards, and more. Currently, these regulations are being reviewed and have proposed changes which we have outlined in this blog.

What are the new updates to Chapter DHS 88?

Adult Family Homes (AFHs) have been a crucial part of Wisconsin's long-term care system, providing a supportive environment for elders with minor health issues and individuals with mild intellectual disabilities. Over the years, the landscape of care has evolved, leading to the emergence of a new type of AFH that caters to individuals with significant medical needs, intellectual disabilities, mental illness, or those transitioning from the correctional system. With these changes in mind, Wisconsin's Chapter DHS 88, the regulatory framework governing AFHs, requires a comprehensive update to address the evolving needs of residents and ensure their protection.

Expanding the Role of AFHs

Traditionally, AFHs primarily served elders and individuals with minor needs. However, the changing demographic and healthcare landscape necessitates a shift towards more complex care. Residents with diverse medical conditions, intellectual disabilities, mental health challenges, and those reintegrating into society after being part of the correctional system now rely on AFHs. These individuals require specialized care and a highly trained staff to ensure their well-being.

Policy Proposals for a Comprehensive Update

To address these changing needs and ensure the highest standard of care, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has proposed a series of policy updates for Chapter DHS 88. These proposed policies aim to:

  1. Focus on Resident Outcomes and Quality of Life: The emphasis will be on enhancing residents' well-being, improving care, and ensuring a high quality of life.

  2. Flexible Regulatory Processes: Implementing reasonable and adaptable regulations to accommodate the diverse needs of residents.

  3. Admission and Retention Thresholds: Establish clear criteria for admitting and retaining residents with stable long-term illnesses or disabilities.

  4. Improved Assessment and Care Planning: Enhance resident assessment and individualized care planning processes.

  5. Upgraded Staff Training: Update training standards to equip staff with the skills required to meet residents' increasing care needs.

  6. Specialized Care for Dementia: Develop evidence-based standards for dementia care, staffing, training, and environmental safeguards.

  7. Medication Administration and Monitoring: Clarify medication administration requirements and monitoring, including psychotropic medications.

  8. Nurse Delegation Responsibilities: Clarify nurse delegation to non-licensed caregivers to address acuity and limited nurse availability.

  9. Infection Control: Establish an infection control program based on current standards to prevent disease transmission.

  10. Accessibility Requirements: Modernize environmental accessibility standards to accommodate physical and intellectual disabilities.

  11. Quality Assurance: Implement a quality assurance and improvement program to maintain high standards.

  12. Relocation Planning: Develop a relocation planning process with resident involvement and department notification.

What's next?

The proposed updates to Chapter DHS 88 reflect Wisconsin's commitment to providing the highest level of care and protection for residents in Adult Family Homes. As the needs of residents evolve, so too must the regulations that govern their care. By focusing on quality of life, flexible regulations, and comprehensive training, Wisconsin aims to ensure that AFHs remain a trusted and supportive environment for all residents, regardless of their unique challenges or circumstances. To review the proposed draft for DHS 88, Licensed Adult Family Homes, click here.

Whether you're a new or seasoned AFH operator gearing up for the upcoming regulatory changes in Wisconsin, feel free to get in touch with ECP at or request a demo. We're here to help!

Note - The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice; instead, all information, content, and materials available on this site are for general informational purposes only. ECP makes no warranties as to the accuracy of this content and does not commit to updating it as regulations change. Readers of this website should contact their attorney to obtain advice with respect to any particular legal or compliance matter. 


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