Family and Children Services

Child Protection Investigations and Services
The goal of Child Protective Services (CPS system) is to support parents/caregivers in making necessary changes so children are safe and protected in their homes.

Children’s Court Intake and Dispositional Services
Children's court intake and dispositional services assess for conditions which may warrant the opening of a family case for Ongoing Services, on a voluntary basis, or by a court order.  The agency must clearly communicate the agency intervention purpose to all involved parties.

The agency intervention purpose directs the case planning process and clarifies the caseworker’s role with the household as well as formal and informal providers. Service provision decisions are based on inclusive assessments and planning with the family to establish goals that achieve measurable outcomes. Throughout the Ongoing Services provision, the agency caseworker's primary role is to engage families in a positive working relationship to achieve a safe, stable home and permanence for children.

Child Welfare assessments and services
The county receives child abuse and neglect reports through an “Access” worker. The agency decides if the information in the report is potential child abuse or neglect according to Wisconsin law. The Wisconsin Children’s Code defines the areas and indicators of child abuse and neglect. If the report meets these definitions for potential child abuse, the CPS worker starts an “Initial Assessment.” The CPS worker has 60 days to complete this “Initial Assessment.” The CPS worker must conduct the assessment in accordance with Wisconsin Access and Initial Assessment Standards.

The focus of the CPS Initial Assessment is child safety. The Wisconsin Safety Intervention Standards defines child safety. Workers help the family get needed services and strive to keep the child in the home whenever possible. It may be necessary to temporarily place a child in out-of-home care if the child cannot safely stay in the home.

After the 60-day Initial Assessment period, the county decides whether to continue to work with the family. If the county determines the family needs additional services, the family will engage in “Ongoing Services.” Wisconsin has Ongoing Standards that guides the Ongoing Services practice.

The focus of the CPS assessment is not to establish legal responsibility or make criminal determinations. CPS focuses on child safety and engaging with families to keep children safely in their home whenever possible. 

Foster Home Licensing

Foster parents play a critical role for children, families, and agencies. The foster parent’s primary task is to provide temporary care for a child until the child’s permanence goal is achieved. The foster parent’s role is also unique and involves much more. 

Juvenile Court Intake and Dispositional services

Juvenile Court Intake and Dispositional Services is a process of assessing referrals from law enforcement or school personnel for further action through the juvenile court process or social services system.  These referrals are for actions that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult as well as truancy, runaways, and uncontrollable behavior.  The juvenile court intake supervisor assigns referrals to a juvenile court intake unit worker.  The worker is responsible for meeting with the child and parent to gather information in order to make a recommendation to the district attorney’s office. The worker will seek information during the intake meeting about the family, child, and community.

Kinship Care Assessments and Payments

Kinship Care is a program to help support a child who lives outside of his or her home with a relative. The child may be living temporarily or for the long term with a relative such as:


  • An adult brother or sister
  • A first cousin
  • A nephew or niece
  • An uncle or aunt or a grandparent
  • Others by blood or marriage (see Ch. DCF 58.03(18) Administrative code for the definition of Relative)

Kinship care helps a family support a child in the home of a relative that might be under stress or when the child experienced abuse or neglect. Such support offers alternatives to placing a child in a foster home or another out-of-homecare setting. Kinship Care may be another placement option for children in the child welfare system who cannot continue living at home with their parents.

Children’s Long Term Support Program
The Children's Long-Term Support Home and Community-Based Medicaid Waivers (CLTS Waivers) helps to support children who are living at home or in the community and who have substantial limitations in multiple daily activities. Such limitations include one or more of the following disabilities: developmental, severe emotional disturbances, and physical. Individual children assessments assist in determining funding support for different service ranges.

Wisconsin has three separate CLTS Waivers, one for each disability category: developmental, severe emotional, and physical. Some children will qualify for more than one waiver, in which case the family and their service coordinator will determine which waiver is the most appropriate source of funding for their specific child.

Child Care Certification
State law requires counties (and tribes) to certify providers who receive public funding but are exempt from the licensing law. Most counties make certification available for all child care providers, whether public funding is involved or not. The Department of Children and Families (DCF) publicizes rules establishing standards for the childcare provider certification.