Aggregated information from the summary reports transmitted to the governor and appropriate standing committees of the legislature in the preceding calendar year.
Trends identified by the department in the summary reports transmitted to the governor and appropriate standing committees of the legislature in the preceding calendar year.
Trends identified by the department based on in-depth practice reviews conducted by the department of incidents for which it received information under s. 48.981 (7) (cr) 2.
Changes in policies or practices that have been made to address any issues raised in the department's review of the incidents in the summary reports in the preceding calendar year and recommendations for any further changes in policies, practices, rules, or statutes that may be needed to address those issues.
Citizen review panels.
Transmit to the appropriate standing committees of the legislature under s. 13.172 (3)
any annual report sent to the department from a citizen review panel established or designated by the department or a county department, and any written response provided by the department to a citizen review panel.
Adolescent programming recommendations.
Identify and provide ways to improve coordination of adolescent and parent educational programs and services at the state and local levels by doing all of the following:
Identifying and recommending ways to eliminate governmental barriers to local development of coordinated educational programs and services for adolescents and parents of adolescents.
Identifying and recommending ways to support and involve parents of adolescents in the planning, coordination and delivery of services for adolescents.
Foster care public information.
Conduct a foster care public information campaign.
Authority of department.
The department shall have authority:
To promote the enforcement of the laws relating to nonmarital children, children in need of protection or services including developmentally disabled children and unborn children in need of protection or services and to take the initiative in all matters involving the interests of those children and unborn children when adequate provision for those interests is not made. This duty shall be discharged in cooperation with the courts, county departments, licensed child welfare agencies and with parents, expectant mothers and other individuals interested in the welfare of children and unborn children.
To assist in extending and strengthening child welfare services with appropriate federal agencies and in conformity with the federal social security act and in cooperation with parents, other individuals and other agencies so that all children needing such services are reached.
To accept gifts, grants, or donations of money or of property from private sources to be administered by the department for the execution of its functions. All moneys so received shall be paid into the general fund and may be appropriated from that fund as provided in s. 20.437 (1) (i)
To accept guardianship of children when appointed by the court, and to provide special treatment or care when directed by the court. A court may not direct the department to administer psychotropic medications to children who receive special treatment or care under this subsection.
To accept appointment by a tribal court in this state as guardian of a child for the purpose of making an adoptive placement for the child if all of the following conditions exist:
The child does not have parents or a guardian or the parental rights to the child have been terminated by a tribal court in accordance with procedures that are substantially equivalent to the procedures specified in subch. VIII
The tribal court has transferred the guardianship or legal custody, or both, of the child to the department, if the child does not have parents or a guardian.
The tribal court's judgment for termination of parental rights identifies the department as the agency that will receive guardianship or legal custody, or both, of the child upon termination, if the parental rights to the child have been terminated.
The tribal court has signed a written contract that addresses federal and state law and that provides that the tribal court will accept the return of the legal custody or the legal custody and guardianship of the child if the department petitions the tribal court to do so under s. 48.485 (2)
In order to discharge more effectively its responsibilities under this chapter and other relevant provisions of the statutes, to study causes and methods of prevention and treatment of problems among children and families and related social problems. The department may utilize all powers provided by the statutes, including the authority to accept grants of money or property from federal, state, or private sources, and enlist the cooperation of other appropriate agencies and state departments.
To place children under its guardianship for adoption.
To enter into agreements with Indian tribes in this state to implement the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
To reimburse tribes and county departments, from the appropriation under s. 20.437 (1) (kz)
, for unexpected or unusually high-cost out-of-home care placements of Indian children by tribal courts, other than placements to which s. 938.485 (4)
applies. In this subsection, “unusually high-cost out-of-home care placements" means the amount by which the cost to a tribe or to a county department of out-of-home care placements of Indian children by tribal courts, other than placements to which s. 938.485 (4)
applies, exceeds $50,000 in a fiscal year.
To reimburse county departments and Indian tribes, from the appropriations under s. 20.437 (1) (dd)
, and (pd)
, for subsidized guardianship payments made under s. 48.623 (1)
, including guardianships of children ordered by tribal courts.
To license foster homes as provided in s. 48.66 (1) (a)
for its own use or for the use of licensed child welfare agencies or, if requested to do so, for the use of county departments.
When notified of the birth or expected birth of a child who is or is likely to be a nonmarital child, to see that the interests of the child are safeguarded, that steps are taken to establish the child's paternity and that there is secured for the child, if possible, the care, support and education the child would receive if he or she were a marital child.
To enter into an agreement to assist in the cost of care of a child after legal adoption when the department has determined that such assistance is necessary to assure the child's adoption. Agreements under this paragraph shall be made in accordance with s. 48.975
. Payments shall be made from the appropriation under s. 20.437 (1) (dd)
This subsection shall be administered by the department according to criteria, standards and review procedures which it shall establish.
To promulgate rules for the payment of an allowance to children in its institutions and a cash grant to a child being discharged from its institutions.
To employ under the unclassified service in an office of the department that is located in a 1st class city a director of the office of urban development who shall be appointed by the secretary to serve at the pleasure of the secretary and who shall coordinate the provision of child welfare services in a county having a population of 750,000 or more with the implementation of the Wisconsin works program under ss. 49.141
in a county having a population of 750,000 or more.
In a county having a population of 750,000 or more, to administer child welfare services and to expend such amounts as may be necessary out of any moneys which may be appropriated for child welfare services by the legislature, which may be donated by individuals or private organizations or which may be otherwise provided. The department shall also have authority to do all of the following:
Investigate the conditions surrounding nonmarital children, children in need of protection or services and unborn children in need of protection or services within the county and to take every reasonable action within its power to secure for them the full benefit of all laws enacted for their benefit. Unless provided by another agency, the department shall offer social services to the caretaker of any child, and to the expectant mother of any unborn child, who is referred to the department under the conditions specified in this subdivision. This duty shall be discharged in cooperation with the court and with the public officers or boards legally responsible for the administration and enforcement of these laws.
Accept legal custody of children transferred to it by the court under s. 48.355
, to accept supervision over expectant mothers of unborn children who are placed under its supervision under s. 48.355
, and to provide special treatment or care for children and expectant mothers if ordered by the court and if providing special treatment or care is not the responsibility of the county department under s. 46.215
, or 51.437
. A court may not order the department to administer psychotropic medications to children and expectant mothers who receive special treatment or care under this subdivision.
Provide appropriate protection and services for children and the expectant mothers of unborn children in its care, including providing services for those children and their families and for those expectant mothers in their own homes, placing those children in licensed foster homes or group homes in this state or similar facilities regulated in another state within a reasonable proximity to the agency with legal custody, placing those children in the homes of guardians under s. 48.977 (2)
, placing those children in a qualifying residential family-based treatment facility with a parent or in similar facilities regulated in another state, or contracting for services for those children by licensed child welfare agencies in this state or a similar child welfare agency regulated in another state, except that the department may not purchase the educational component of private day treatment programs unless the department, the school board, as defined in s. 115.001 (7)
, and the state superintendent of public instruction all determine that an appropriate public education program is not available. Disputes between the department and the school district shall be resolved by the state superintendent of public instruction.
Provide for the moral and religious training of children in its care according to the religious belief of the child or of his or her parents.
Place children in a county children's home in the county, to accept guardianship of children when appointed by the court and to place children under its guardianship for adoption.
Contract with any parent or guardian or other person for the care and maintenance of any child.
Use in the media a picture or description of a child in its guardianship for the purpose of finding adoptive parents for that child.
Contract with the county department under s. 46.215
or with a licensed child welfare agency to provide any of the services that the department is authorized to provide under this chapter.
The requirement of statewide uniformity with respect to the organization and governance of human services does not apply to the administration of child welfare services under par. (a)
In performing the functions specified in par. (a)
, the department may avail itself of the cooperation of any individual or private agency or organization interested in the social welfare of children and unborn children in the county.
As soon as practicable after learning that a person who is receiving child welfare services under par. (a)
from the department has changed his or her county of residence, the department shall provide notice of that change to the county department of the person's new county of residence. The notice shall include a brief, written description of the services offered or provided to the person by the department and the name, telephone number, and address of a person to contact for more information.
From the appropriations under s. 20.437 (1) (cx)
, and (mx)
, the department may provide funding for the maintenance of any child who meets all of the following criteria:
Is enrolled in and regularly attending a secondary education classroom program leading to a high school diploma.
Is living in a foster home, group home, residential care center for children and youth, qualifying residential family-based treatment facility, or a similar facility regulated in another state or in a supervised independent living arrangement.
To contract with public or voluntary agencies or others for the following purposes:
To purchase in full or in part care and services that the department is authorized by any statute to provide as an alternative to providing that care and those services itself.
To purchase or provide in full or in part the care and services that county agencies may provide or purchase under any statute and to sell to county agencies such portions of that care and those services as the county agency may desire to purchase.
To sell services, under contract, that the department is authorized to provide by statute, to any federally recognized tribal governing body.
To purchase or provide treatment and services for children who are the victims of trafficking, as defined in s. 940.302 (1) (d)
, for purposes of a commercial sex act, as defined in s. 940.302 (1) (a)
. Within the availability of funding under s. 20.437 (1) (e)
, the department shall ensure that that treatment and those services are available to children in all geographic areas of the state, including both urban and rural communities.
To certify a residential care center for children and youth, group home, or shelter care facility to operate a qualified residential treatment program as provided under s. 48.675
and monitor compliance with certification requirements.
To provide training for staff, including contractors, of a child welfare agency or a congregate care facility, as defined in s. 48.685 (1) (ao)
History: 1973 c. 90
; 1977 c. 29
; 1977 c. 83
; 1977 c. 354
; 1979 c. 34
, 2102 (20) (a)
; 1979 c. 221
; 1983 a. 27
s. 2202 (20)
; 1983 a. 189
s. 329 (17)
; 1983 a. 447
; 1985 a. 135
; 1985 a. 332
s. 251 (3)
; 1987 a. 339
; 1989 a. 31
; 1991 a. 316
; 1993 a. 16
; 1995 a. 27
, 9126 (19)
, 9145 (1)
; 1995 a. 77
; 1997 a. 27
; 1999 a. 9
; 2001 a. 38
; 2005 a. 25
; 2007 a. 20
; 2009 a. 28
; 2011 a. 258
; 2013 a. 20
; 2013 a. 165
; 2013 a. 334
; 2015 a. 55
; 2019 a. 9
; 2021 a. 42
; 2023 a. 19
See also ch. DCF 51
, Wis. adm. code.
An allegation that the Department of Health and Social Services failed to adopt rules or to exercise supervision over a local social service agency and that those failures led to a deprivation of child custody without due process stated a cause of action for deprivation of civil rights. Roe v. Borup, 500 F. Supp. 127
The state has ultimate foster care responsibility, and dismissal of a 42 USC 1983 action against the state for civil rights violations by a county agency was not appropriate. Jeanine B. v. Thompson, 877 F. Supp. 1268
Grants for children's community programs.
From the appropriation under s. 20.437 (1) (bc)
, the department shall distribute the following grants for children's community programs:
Foster care placement continuation. 48.481(1)(a)
The department shall distribute foster care continuation grants in each fiscal year to counties for the purpose of supplementing payments for the care of an individual who attains age 18 after 1986 and who resided in a home licensed under s. 48.62
for at least 2 years immediately prior to attaining age 18 and, for at least 2 years, received payments for exceptional circumstances in order to avoid institutionalization, as provided under rules promulgated by the department, so that the individual may live in a family home or other noninstitutional situation after attaining age 18. No county may use funds provided under this paragraph to replace funds previously used by the county for this purpose. Beginning in fiscal year 2013-14, a county is eligible to receive funding under this paragraph only if the county received such funding in fiscal year 2012-13.
A county shall evaluate the proposed living arrangement of an individual under par. (a)
to determine whether that living arrangement is cost-effective compared to other care reasonably available to the county including other community care as well as institutional care. If the proposed living arrangement is not cost-effective, the county may not use funds distributed under par. (a)
for the care of that individual in the proposed living arrangement. A county shall evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the living arrangement of an individual for whom funds are provided under par. (a)
at least once every 5 years.
Transition to a successful adulthood.
The department shall distribute at least $231,700 in each fiscal year for the purpose of assisting individuals who attain the age of 18 while residing in a foster home, group home, or residential care center for children and youth, in the home of a relative other than a parent, or in a supervised independent living arrangement to make the transition from out-of-home care to a successful adulthood. No county may use funds provided under this subsection to replace funds previously used by the county for this purpose.
Transfer of Indian children to department for adoption. 48.485(1)(1)
If the department accepts guardianship or legal custody or both from a tribal court under s. 48.48 (3m)
, the department shall seek a permanent adoptive placement for the child or seek to enter into a subsidized guardianship agreement under s. 48.623 (2)
with a proposed guardian of the child and petition the court for the appointment of that individual as the guardian of the child under s. 48.977 (2)
or under a substantially similar tribal law.
If a permanent adoptive or subsidized guardianship placement is not in progress within 2 years after entry of the termination of parental rights order by the tribal court, the department may petition the tribal court to transfer legal custody or guardianship of the Indian child back to the Indian tribe, except that the department may not petition the tribal court to transfer back to an Indian tribe legal custody or guardianship of an Indian child who was initially taken into custody under s. 48.195 (1)
Tribal family services. 48.487(1m)(1m)
Tribal family services grants.
From the appropriation account under s. 20.437 (1) (js)
, the department may distribute tribal family services grants to the elected governing bodies of the Indian tribes in this state. An elected governing body that receives a grant under this subsection may expend the grant moneys received for any of the purposes specified in subs. (2)
, (3) (b)
, (4m) (b)
, (5) (b)
, and (7)
as determined by that body.
Adolescent self-sufficiency services.
An elected governing body of an Indian tribe may expend moneys from a grant received under sub. (1m)
to provide services for adolescent parents. Those services shall emphasize high school graduation and vocational preparation, training, and experience and may be structured so as to strengthen the adolescent parent's capacity to fulfill parental responsibilities by developing social skills and increasing parenting skills. An Indian tribe that provides those services shall develop a proposed service plan that is approved by the department.
Adolescent pregnancy prevention services. 48.487(3)(a)
In this subsection, “high-risk adolescent" means a person who is at least 13 years of age but under the age of 20 and who is at risk of becoming an unmarried parent as an adolescent and of incurring long-term economic dependency on public funds and is characterized by one or more of the following:
Low school achievement, as a pupil who is one or more years behind his or her pupil age group in the number of school credits attained or in basic school skill levels.