DHS Marks 25 Years of Aging and Disability Resource Centers Serving Wisconsin Communities

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) is celebrating the 25th anniversary of aging and disability resource centers (ADRCs) helping older adults and people with disabilities in our state to thrive. ADRCs were first piloted in 1998 in nine counties and have since expanded to cover all 72 Wisconsin counties and 11 federally recognized Tribal Nations in the state, providing connections to resources like adaptive equipment, dementia care services, meal delivery, and more.

“ADRCs play a vital role in helping our friends, neighbors, and loved ones remain connected and engaged in their communities,” said DHS Secretary-designee Kirsten Johnson. “Wisconsin’s person-centered, full-service approach to long-term care education and assistance has become a national standard. We look forward to continuing this important work and ensuring we will be able to provide the high-quality, supportive community-based services people want and need for years to come.”

Every year, ADRCs and Tribal aging and disability resource specialist (ADRS) programs log hundreds of thousands of contacts with customers around the state. In 2022, they served over 141,000 unique customers and made over 535,000 direct contacts. In the same year, clients of elder benefit specialists and disability benefit specialists accessed over $224 million worth of services, helping stabilize household budgets and lessen reliance on local crisis and emergency services.

ADRC services are available to families, friends, caregivers, and others who work with or care about older people or people with disabilities. Today there are 49 ADRCs and nine Tribal ADRSs providing a central source of reliable and objective information about a broad range of programs and services for our most vulnerable populations. ADRCs help people conserve their personal resources, maintain self-sufficiency, and delay or prevent the need for potentially expensive long-term care by enabling people to find resources in their communities and make informed decisions about long-term care.

DHS has dedicated American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funding to improve and modernize ADRCs throughout the state. This initiative aims to improve access to ADRC resources, increase awareness of ADRCs throughout Wisconsin, diversify and modernize ADRC services with a focus on equity, and support the increasing demand for ADRC services. Additionally, select ADRCs are taking part in an independent living supports pilot program, which will offer short-term, flexible, and limited services and supports for people at risk of entering Medicaid long-term care. The pilot program will help improve people’s ability to stay in their own homes, potentially easing the burden on Wisconsin’s long-term care system as Wisconsin’s older adult population continues to grow.

To learn more about ADRCs or find your local ADRC or Tribal ADRS visit the DHS website.