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DCF Licensing Unit

The DCF Licensing Unit is responsible for the licensing of four categories of services delivered to children and their families throughout the state of Connecticut.  Each of the four licensing categories has its own requirements, so it is important for license applicants to know them. For information on licensing for each of these categories follow the links below:

The DCF Regulatory Consultants, supervisor, nurses, and administrative and support staff are dedicated to assuring that all licensed facilities, agencies and programs operate at or above the required standards established by state statutes and regulations. This is accomplished by providing technical assistance, application processing, facility monitoring, complaint investigation and enforcement activities. The DCF Licensing Unit licenses more than 200 facilities, agencies, and programs. We are committed to promoting the health, safety, and welfare of Connecticut's children in licensed facilities and programs.

In addition, there are some requirements and procedures that are common across the different license categories, and those can be accessed through the links below.

NOTE: DCF Foster and Adoptive Homes are licensed by DCF Area Office staff who work in the Foster and Adoption Services Unit (FASU). For more information call 1-888-KID-HERO, or visit the Foster Care and Adoption website.

Child day care homes and day care centers are licensed by the Office of Early Childhood (OEC).  For information on becoming a licensed day care provider visit the OEC website.


Jim McPherson, Program Manager
Licensing Unit
Phone 860-550-6532
Email: Jim McPherson@ct.gov


Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children

     Interpretive Psychiatric Clinic Guidelines
     Outpatient Psychiatric Clinics for Children 
     Psychiatric Clinic Regulations
     Psychiatric Clinic Statutes 

"Outpatient Psychiatric Clinic for Children" or "Clinic" means a community-based children’s mental health facility which provides mental health services to children and adolescents under eighteen years of age and their families. These services are designed to: (A) promote mental health and improve functioning in children, youth and families; and (B) effectively decrease the prevalence and incidence of mental illness, emotional disturbance and social dysfunction. Responsibility for diagnostic and treatment services is vested in a multi-disciplinary team comprised of psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, marriage and family therapists or other mental health professionals. Supervision of clinical services may be provided by a psychiatrist, psychologist, social worker or marriage and family therapist with appropriate child experience and state licensing. Services shall include but not be limited to diagnostic evaluation, psychological testing, family, group and individual therapies, medication services, crisis or emergency interventions. These clinics shall make every effort to respond flexibly and be accessible to their client population, as well as to work in collaboration with schools, the child welfare system, and other child caring agencies. Services are provided to the general public without bias because of race, sex, ethnicity, religion, or sexual preference and are culturally competent. Clinics shall have in place overall policies and procedures in compliance with sections 17a-20-11 to 17a-20-61, inclusive, of the Regulations of Connecticut State Agencies Clinics shall be licensed by the Department of Children and Families.


Extended Day Treatment

     Interpretive Extended Day Guidelines
     Extended Day Treatment Facilities
     EDT Regulations
     EDT Statutes

“Extended Day Treatment" is a supplementary care community-based program providing a comprehensive multidisciplinary approach to treatment and rehabilitation of emotionally disturbed, mentally ill, behaviorally disordered or multiply handicapped children and youth during the hours immediately before and after school while they reside with their parents or surrogate family. It does not include any such program provided by a regional educational service center established in accordance with Section 10-66a of the Connecticut General Statutes.


Child Placing Agency

     Child Placing Agencies 
     Child Placing Regulations
     Child Placing Statutes

"Child-placing Agency" is an agency, association, corporation, institution, society, or other public or private organization licensed by the Department to approve foster or prospective adoptive families and to place a child into an approved foster or prospective adoptive family.
A "Child Placing Program" consists of activities conducted by child placing agencies including, but not necessarily limited to the recruitment, training, evaluation and monitoring of foster families and prospective adoptive families.


Child Caring Regulations and Statutes

     Child Caring Regulations
     Child Caring Regulations (part 2)
     Child Care Facilities Statutes

Licensing Categories of Child Caring Facilities

Child Caring Facility Definition:  A “child-care facility” is a congregate residential setting for the out-of-home placement of children or youth under eighteen years of age, licensed by the Department. There are five types of child caring facilities receiving licenses.

     Group Home
          Therapeutic Group Home
          SWET Group Home
     Residential Treatment Center
     Residential Education Facility
     Temporary Shelter
          STAR Homes
          Crisis Stabilization Program

Group Home:   A “group home” is a facility that meets long-term community-based placement needs during which the facility attempts to transition the child toward reunification with family, independent living or long-term foster care. Clinical and medical services are generally provided on an outpatient basis and educational services are provided by attendance in public or private school programs arranged by the child’s school district. The Department licenses three types of group homes: 

  • Therapeutic Group Home:  Therapeutic group homes are designed to serve children with significant behavioral health or developmental issues.  The program design calls for clinical services provided in the home by licensed mental health professionals.  On-going monitoring of psychotropic medications is provided on-site by a psychiatrist employed by the licensee.  Limited nursing services are provided in the home with community based medical services being utilized for well-child care, as well as on-going care of medical issues.
  • SWET Group Homes:  SWET (Supported Work Education and Training) group homes allow youth to live in a supervised apartment setting with other youth in an independent living environment.  Residents are responsible for all of their own cooking, shopping, and cleaning with child care staff providing support for life skills development.  All clinical and medical services are provided by community providers, and residents attend public school settings or other educational settings as arranged for by the child’s school district.

Residential Treatment Center:  A “residential treatment center” is a facility that meets long-term placement needs and provides clinical treatment of psychiatric, behavioral and emotional disorders.  Clinical treatment is provided on site in a therapeutic setting.  Medical services are provided by the facility by nursing and child care staff.  All other medical care is provided by hospitals or community based medical professionals.  Educational services are provided by the facility whenever required in accordance with procedures developed jointly by the department and the state Department of Education

Residential Education Facility:  A "residential education facility” is a facility that provides for the long-term housing needs of students who are participating in a residential special education school.  Educational services are provided on site in a school that is certified by the state Department of Education as a special education school.  Limited medical services are provided by the facility by nursing and child care staff.  Such facilities are designed to meet the long-term educational needs of the students.

Temporary Shelter:  A “temporary shelter” is a facility that meets short-term emergency placement needs during which the facility attempts to stabilize, assess and prepare the child for a more permanent placement. Clinical and medical services are provided on an outpatient basis and educational services are provided by short-term in-house tutoring or attendance in public or private school programs arranged by the child’s school district. There are two types of short-term emergency placement programs licensed by the Department: 

  • STAR Homes:  A Short Term Assessment and Respite Home is a temporary congregate care program that provides short-term care, assessment and a range of clinical and nursing services to children removed from their homes due to abuse, neglect or other high-risk circumstances. Staff will provide empathic professional care for youth within a routine of daily activities which is similar to a nurturing family structure.  The youth will receive assessment services, educational support, significant levels of structure and support, and care coordination related to family reunification, foster care, congregate care, or other discharge planning as appropriate.
  • Crisis Stabilization Program:  There are two Crisis Stabilization Programs licensed in the state. These programs provide intensive, 24-hour short-term placement and intervention for youth ages 11-17 who are at immediate risk due to a deteriorating psychiatric condition or unsafe, volatile family situation.  The primary goals of the program are to de-escalate the current crisis; assist the youth and family in reestablishing a safe living situation in the community; prevent placement disruption; decrease inappropriate utilization of hospital emergency departments; and involve parents, guardians and youth in the treatment planning process.  Services include: a multi-disciplinary assessment, psychiatric assessment if indicated, solution-focused individual, family, and group therapy, psycho-educational skill building groups, substance abuse screening as indicated, and intensive case management and advocacy with a multi-systems perspective.
  • SFIT:  Short-Term Family Integrated Treatment service is a short-term residential treatment option providing crisis stabilization and assessment, with rapid reintegration and transition back home.  The primary goal of the program is to: stabilize the youth and family (adoptive, biological, foster, kin, relative) and their extended social system; assess the family’s current strengths and needs; identify and mobilize community resources; and, coordinate services to ensure rapid reintegration into the home.  It is an alternative to psychiatric hospitalizations and admissions to higher levels of care, and diverts placement disruptions.


Licensing Application Process

Those interested in applying for a DCF license as a child caring facility, child placing agency, extended day treatment program, or outpatient psychiatric clinic for children should contact the DCF Licensing Unit at DCF.LICENSING@ct.gov or by calling 860-550-6532 prior to filing application paperwork.  This contact is helpful in determining the appropriate license type and in helping the prospective applicant understand the application process.   
The Department utilizes the Department of Administrative Services BizNet site for the filing of licensing application documents.  The site contains an instructional video and PowerPoint presentation to help guide applicants through the process.
For a description of the application and initial licensing process please consult the DCF Licensing Best Practice Guide.
Other Resources:

     Connecticut State Police Criminal Background Checks
     DCF Protective Services Background Checks (DCF-3031)
     DCF Medication Administration Certification Training
     Medically Complex Program and Training


DCF Licensed Programs, Facilities and Out-of-State Approved Adoption Agencies

     Child Placing Agencies
     Child Care License List [This is a link to the Office of Early Childhood]
     Extended Day Treatment Facilities
     Outpatient Psychiatric Clinics for Children 
     Out-of-State Approved Adoption Agencies
     Residential Child Caring Agencies and Facilities

For information on CHILD DAY CARE LICENSING, please contact the Office of Early Childhood  Phone: 1-800-282-6063 or 860-509-8045


Approved Emergency Safety Intervention Training Programs

Beginning in May 2014, the DCF Emergency Safety Intervention Review Committee initiated the process of reviewing all Emergency Safety Intervention (ESI) training programs utilized by DCF licensed congregate care facilities.  This review process is outlined in DCF policy 31-12-12.4.  The process includes in-person presentations of training curricula by the training program providers, as well as demonstrations of physical intervention techniques.  As required by the DCF policy, the composition of the review committee included relevant DCF staff, DCF licensed private providers, and persons with lived experience. 

Based on the Committee’s reviews, the following ESI training programs are approved without conditions:

  • Crisis Consulting Group (CCG)
  • Non-Abusive Psychological and Physical Intervention (NAPPI)
  • Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI)
  • Therapeutic Crisis Intervention (TCI)
  • Safe Crisis Management (SCM)
  • Justice Resource Institute (JRI)-Building Communities of Care
  • The Mandt System Inc.
  • Professional Crisis Management Association

The following ESI training programs are approved with the specified conditions:

  • Pro-ACT: Approved for standing holds and escorts only.  The floor hold is not approved as it involves a take-down maneuver which places a client in a prone position before moving the resident to a supine position.
  • Devereux Safe and Positive Approaches: Approved with the additional requirement that the use of the pressure point bite release be separately reported to DCF Licensing when utilized.
  • Physical/Psychological Management Training (PMT): Approved with the condition that evidence be submitted to document implementation of the plan of correction.
  • North American Family Institute (NAFI): Approved with the additional condition that the use of the bite release technique involving the holding of the nose of the resident be reported to DCF Licensing.