Residential Care and Assisted Living Compendium: 2007. Introduction to the Current Edition

11/30/2007

This compendium describes regulatory provisions and Medicaid policy for residential care settings in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It updates an earlier report completed in 2005 with data for 2004.

The original intent for this edition of the compendium was to provide data for 2006. However, due to the increased availability of current data on states’ websites, we were able to collect data for 2007. Information was collected between February and August 2007 by reviewing state websites and regulations and calling key state contacts to verify information. Section 1 provides an overview of residential care and assisted living policy. Section 2 presents six tables, which compare states’ policy in selected areas. Section 3 provides summaries of each state’s regulations and policy for residential care settings, including assisted living facilities (ALFs).

The 2004 edition of the compendium differed from prior editions in that it used “residential care setting” or “residential care facility” (RCF) as the generic terms for all types of group residential care settings, rather than the term assisted living. The 2007 edition continues the use of these terms. Although many states use the term assisted living generically to cover virtually every type of group residential care on the continuum between home care and nursing homes, for many stakeholders the term assisted living still represents a unique model of residential care that differs significantly from traditional types of residential care such as board and care. When discussing state statutes and regulation, the compendium uses the terms that each state uses.

Adult foster care (AFC)/adult family care is a type of residential care. The most recent comprehensive study of AFC was conducted in 1995 so current information about these settings and their regulation is lacking.1 Although AFC has never been the focus of the compendium, some states now license adult foster/family care under their assisted living regulations. For example, North Carolina’s statute defines adult family homes (AFHs) as serving two to six residents and adult care homes serve seven or more residents, but licenses both settings as assisted living residences (ALRs).

Nine states -- Georgia, Louisiana, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Vermont -- define at least one licensing category to include all residential care settings that serve two or more residents and eight states (Alaska, Arkansas, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, and Vermont) have a threshold of three or more. A few states have different thresholds within a licensing category. (Information about regulatory thresholds is generally noted in the state summary definitions in Section 3 of this compendium.)

Consequently, in some states, the number of people served in a residential care setting is no longer a major factor distinguishing the licensing category of adult foster/family care from that of assisted living. This change raises questions about how regulations designed for larger facilities are applied to privately owned family homes compared to states that have separate licensing and regulatory standards for these models.

Each state summary provides information as to whether AFC is covered by assisted living/residential care regulations, or is licensed or certified under separate regulations. When available, the address for the website that hosts the regulations is listed.

Residential care is an important long-term care service option, particularly for individuals who cannot live alone but do not require the skilled level-of-care (LOC) that nursing homes provide. The purpose of this compendium is to inform residential care policy by providing detailed information about each state’s approach to regulating residential care, as well as its funding for services in these settings.


1. Donna Folkemer, Allen Jensen, Linda Lipson, Molly Stauffer and Wendy Fox Grage. Adult Foster Care for the Elderly: A Review of State Regulatory and Funding Strategies. AARP. Washington, DC. March 1996.

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