June 23, 2023


Having worked with a client recently in preparing for her adult family home opening, I wanted to take time to share some crucial information for this type of business venture.

There are many individuals looking to start adult family homes in the state of Washington. Long-term care homes can be very costly and individual care can suffer in larger settings. Having worked with a client recently in preparing for her adult family home opening, I wanted to take time to share some important information for this type of business venture. Adult family homes are heavily regulated and there are many requirements to consider when finalizing your business plan. A reminder that a detailed business plan is necessary to move forward with any business.


You are working with some of the most vulnerable in the population which include various mental illnesses, physical and developmental disabilities, and other challenging behaviors. It’s a huge responsibility and requires regular communication with the families involved. Residents will need available care both day and night. This means employee(s) will be hired right at the start of opening the business. It is a rewarding experience, but can be tiring and stressful. Those with a truly compassionate heart and appropriate skills will endure with this population.


Adult family homes have many licensing requirements for the business, the property, and the owner themselves. Many homes close within the first two years due to the work it takes to maintain a full house and stay on top of the day-to-day duties. Homes closing have negative impacts on the residents as well as their families and should be avoided as much as possible. You must obtain an AFH license before you can provide any type of care to more than one person in your home. Once obtained, you must be educated on all AFH applicable laws and abide by them. Costs for licensure varies by instructor, location, county, codes, or fees. Building inspections and any structural changes must also be completed before applying for the license. There are many building requirements such as handrails, locked storage for medications, and so forth. There is also a mandatory orientation class that must be completed before submitting the AFH application.


There are no exceptions to the requirements listed below:

·      Copy of AFH orientation certificate within 12months of submission

·      Copy of Washington State Business Identifier(UBI)

·      Must meet minimum education requirements: High School Diploma/GED

·      Copy of certification after completing 48-hour administrator training

·      Copies of specialty training documents for residents with developmental disabilities, dementia, and other mental illnesses and diagnoses

·      Completed Background Inquiry Authorization Form

·      Copy of completed AFH Building Inspection

·      Copy of AFH admission agreement or private pay and Medicaid-eligible residents

·      Copy of a full and extensive Disaster Plan

·      Copy of nurse delegation certificate if you plan to perform delegated nursing tasks

·      Must be a minimum of 21 years old and fluent in English

·      Completion of the application with checklist or it will not be approved

·      Completion of caregiving attestation worth 1000 hours with signed verification

For more information on the details listed above, please visit dshs.wa.gov/residential-care-services. In anything we do in life, research is essential to being successful. It’s okay to ask a lot of questions before jumping into new territory. If this is something you are interested in doing here in Washington State, you can be successful with the right motivation and passion! I hope this article is helpful to you, and as always, the Washington Women’s Business Center is here to help you step-by-step.

By: Ashley Whitley WCWB