Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program Explained

Learn the significance of the Adult Foster Care Program in healthcare and its benefits to family caregivers in this article.
Published on
July 11, 2023
Written by
Katie Wilkinson
Reviewed by
Max Mayblum
Certified Senior Advisor (CSA)®
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The Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program is available in:

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The Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program is an essential component of healthcare services, providing support and care for individuals who cannot live independently due to physical, intellectual, or medical conditions. This program offers a safe and nurturing environment where adults can receive personalized care and assistance with daily activities. 

In this article, we explore the purpose and specific details of the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program, shedding light on its role in enhancing the well-being of vulnerable adults.

Overview of the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program

The Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program is a vital healthcare initiative that addresses the needs of adults who cannot live on their own due to physical, intellectual, or medical limitations. This program aims to provide a nurturing environment where individuals can receive the support and assistance required to meet their daily living needs. Through the AFC Program, adults can find a safe and supportive home setting where they receive personalized care and engage in a community that promotes their overall well-being.

The primary purpose of the AFC Program is to ensure the well-being of vulnerable adults by placing them in foster homes where they can receive the care they need. These foster homes are typically operated by trained caregivers who are responsible for providing a range of services, including assistance with personal hygiene, medication management, meal preparation, transportation, and emotional support.

The AFC Program is often an alternative to nursing homes or institutional care, as it allows individuals to reside in a more home-like environment while still receiving the necessary care and support.

The goals and objectives of the AFC Program are multifaceted:

  1. It aims to enhance the quality of life for participants by ensuring their safety, comfort, and dignity.
  2. It strives to promote independence and autonomy to the greatest extent possible, encouraging individuals to maintain their personal preferences and engage in activities that bring them joy and fulfillment.
  3. It seeks to foster social connections and reduce isolation by facilitating interactions between residents and their caregivers and promoting engagement with the broader community.

Overall, the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program plays a crucial role in supporting and improving the lives of vulnerable adults, providing them with a caring and secure environment that promotes their overall well-being.

Alternate names for the Adult Foster Care Program

The Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program is known by various names depending on the region or state. Some alternative names for the Adult Foster Care Program include:

  1. Adult Family Care (AFC)
  2. Adult Foster Family Homes (AFFH)
  3. Adult Family Homes (AFH)
  4. Adult Residential Care (ARC)
  5. Adult Group Homes (AGH)
  6. Adult Assisted Living
  7. Adult Care Homes
  8. Adult Family Living (AFL)
  9. Adult Home-Based Services
  10. Adult Board and Care Homes

These names may vary in different states or jurisdictions, but they generally refer to similar programs that provide care and support for adults who require assistance with daily living activities in a residential setting. It's important to check with the specific state or local agency to understand the terminology and regulations associated with the Adult Foster Care Program in a particular area.

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Eligibility requirements

Eligibility requirements for the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program vary depending on each state or region-specific regulations and guidelines. While the exact criteria may differ, here is a general overview of factors that are commonly considered when determining eligibility:

  • Age: The AFC Program typically serves adults who are 18 years of age or older.
  • Disability or Medical Condition: Individuals must have a disability or medical condition to prevent them from living independently. This can include physical disabilities, cognitive impairments, chronic illnesses, or mental health conditions.
  • Functional Limitations: The program assesses an individual's ability to perform activities of daily living like bathing, dressing, meal preparation, medication management, and mobility.
  • Income Limits: Income restrictions exist to qualify for the AFC Program. These limits vary by state and may consider factors such as the individual's income, assets, and household size.
  • Residential Requirements: Applicants must be legal residents or citizens of the country or state where they apply for the AFC Program.
  • Caregiver Capacity: The availability of qualified caregivers within the AFC Program is crucial in determining eligibility. The program ensures enough trained caregivers to provide the necessary support and care.

Application Process and Determining Eligibility

Interested individuals typically need to go through an application process to determine eligibility for the AFC Program. This process may involve the following steps:

  • Contacting the AFC Program Office: Interested individuals can contact the AFC Program Office or the designated agency responsible for administering the program in their area.
  • Initial Assessment: The applicant's basic information, medical history, and living situation may be evaluated through an initial screening or assessment.
  • In-Depth Assessment: A more comprehensive assessment evaluates the individual's functional limitations, medical needs, and required support level.
  • Documentation: Applicants may be asked to provide medical records, income verification, and proof of residency.
  • Decision and Notification: Once the assessment is complete, a decision regarding eligibility is made, and applicants are notified of the outcome.
  • Caregiver Match and Placement: Individuals are matched with suitable caregivers within the AFC Program and placed in a foster home if found eligible.

Individuals interested in the AFC Program need to contact their local AFC Program office or relevant agency to get detailed information about their region's eligibility requirements and application process.

States where the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program is available

The availability of the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program, including waivers, varies by state. Here is a list of states in the United States where the AFC Program may be available:

  1. Massachusetts: Massachusetts has an Adult Foster Care program that provides financial assistance to family caregivers who care for eligible adults in their homes.
  2. Michigan: Michigan offers an Adult Foster Care program that provides financial assistance to caregivers who care for individuals aged, blind, or disabled.
  3. Oregon: Oregon has an Adult Foster Home program that offers financial support to caregivers who provide care to adults who need assistance with daily activities.
  4. Minnesota: Minnesota provides financial assistance through its Adult Foster Care program, which supports caregivers caring for vulnerable adults.
  5. Washington: Washington State has an Adult Family Home program offers financial assistance to family caregivers who provide care in a home-like setting.

The availability of the AFC Program may change over time, and we recommend contacting the relevant state agencies and departments responsible for administering the AFC Program in a specific state to get the most up-to-date information.

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Services and supports 

The Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program offers comprehensive services. It is tailored to meet the specific needs of individuals who require assistance with daily activities due to physical, intellectual, or medical conditions. Here is an overview of the services and supports commonly provided under the AFC Program:

  • Personal Care Assistance: Trained caregivers offer assistance with activities of daily living, including bathing, grooming, dressing, toileting, and mobility support.
  • Medication Management: Caregivers help with medication reminders, administration, and tracking to ensure individuals take their prescribed medications correctly and on time.
  • Meal Preparation and Nutrition: Caregivers assist with meal planning, cooking, and ensuring that individuals can access balanced and nutritious meals that meet their dietary requirements.
  • Transportation: The AFC Program may provide transportation services or assistance in arranging transportation for medical appointments, community outings, and other essential trips.
  • Health Monitoring and Management: Caregivers may assist with monitoring and managing individuals' health conditions, including tracking vital signs, managing medical equipment, and coordinating healthcare appointments.
  • Emotional Support and Companionship: Caregivers provide emotional support and companionship and engage individuals in social activities to reduce feelings of isolation and enhance overall well-being.
  • Home Maintenance: Caregivers may assist with light housekeeping, laundry, and home maintenance to ensure a safe and comfortable living environment.
  • Respite Care: The AFC Program may offer respite services, providing temporary relief to caregivers who need time off while ensuring the continued care and support of the individual in the foster home.
  • Case Management: Some AFC Programs provide case management services to help individuals navigate the healthcare system, access resources, and coordinate various aspects of their care.
  • Specialized Healthcare Services: Depending on the specific needs of the individual, the AFC Program may involve specialized healthcare services, such as nursing care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, or specialized medical equipment.
  • Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS): The AFC Program may offer additional HCBS, including home-delivered meals, personal emergency response systems, assistive technologies, and home modifications to improve accessibility and safety.
  • Social and Recreational Activities: Caregivers may facilitate social and recreational activities within the foster home or assist individuals in participating in community-based activities to promote social engagement and quality of life.

Compensation for caregivers

Under the Adult Foster Care (AFC) Program, the compensation of unpaid family caregivers is contingent upon each state or region-specific guidelines and regulations. While some states may offer compensation to family caregivers, others may not have provisions for direct payment. Here is a general overview of the process and requirements for accessing caregiver compensation within the AFC Program:

  • State-Specific Policies: Each state establishes its policies regarding caregiver compensation. Some states have programs that allow eligible family members to become paid caregivers, while others may not provide direct payment but offer other support or services.
  • Eligibility Criteria: Family members must meet specific eligibility criteria set by the AFC Program to qualify for caregiver compensation, including factors like the caregiver's relationship to the care recipient, the care recipient's level of need, and the caregiver's ability to meet specific training or certification requirements.
  • Documentation and Reporting: Caregivers may be required to complete documentation and reporting procedures to verify the care provided. This can include maintaining records of caregiving activities, documenting the individual's condition and progress, and submitting regular reports to the AFC Program.
  • Training and Certification: Some states may require caregivers to undergo training or obtain certification to ensure they possess the necessary skills and knowledge to provide adequate care.

Limitations and challenges 

Funding Constraints: The AFC Program operates within the constraints of available funding, which can vary from state to state. Limited budget may result in challenges in providing optimal resources and services. It can lead to restrictions in caregiver compensation, limitations in the number of individuals served, or reduced availability of specialized healthcare services. These funding constraints can affect the quality and breadth of care provided under the AFC Program.

Waiting Lists: Due to the popularity and demand for the AFC Program, some states may have waiting lists for enrollment. The waiting lists can be a significant challenge, as individuals needing care may experience delays in accessing the services and support they require. This delay in care could impact their well-being and quality of life. 

Gaps in Coverage: While the AFC Program offers a wide range of services, there may be gaps in coverage, particularly in specialized healthcare services or specific geographic areas. Access to specialized medical care, therapies, or specific assistive technologies may be limited. Additionally, individuals in rural or remote areas may need help finding available AFC Program providers. 

These gaps in coverage can pose barriers to individuals receiving comprehensive care tailored to their specific needs. Exploring alternative resources or collaborating with healthcare professionals is important to bridge gaps and ensure individuals receive the necessary support for their well-being.

Acknowledging these limitations and challenges can help individuals and caregivers navigate the AFC Program more effectively and seek additional resources and support when needed. 

A note from Givers

Recognizing and supporting unpaid family caregivers is vital to ensure their well-being and the quality of care they provide. The AFC Program acknowledges the immense contributions of caregivers and aims to alleviate their burden by offering services, training, and potential compensation. We invite you to fill out our form to determine your eligibility for compensation.

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