Children, Youth, and Family 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. 
Foster Parent Application                       Foster Care FAQ

Youth Justice Intake

When Law Enforcement referrals are screened as appropriate for formal court involvement, referrals are sent to the Youth Justice Intake Workers. Social Workers perform the same assessment work. If a Deferred Prosecution Agreement is the final case outcome, transfer to ongoing services for supervision may occur. Formal Intake covers Custody Intake when a new referral may result in a youth being placed in secure custody at the Juvenile Reception Center (JRC), or Non-Secure Custody status at Shelter or Home.  A custody hearing is held the following business day.  The Custody Intake Social Worker will go over rights, the court process, discuss recommendation options, and ask questions related to the Youth  Assessment & Screening Instrument (YASI) prescreen tool with the youth and parents.  The Custody Intake Social Worker will make a recommendation to the District Attorney regarding the filing of a petition and the need to continue a custody status.  The Custody Intake Social Worker will attend the custody hearing.  Following the custody hearing, the Intake Supervisor will assign the youth/family to an Intake Social Worker.

Youth Justice Supervision Services

Deferred Prosecution Agreements (DPA)

A DPA is a case plan created and agreed to without a formal court order. If the youth cooperates with all of the terms of the agreement, they are able to avoid a formal delinquency adjudication. DPAs are most often supervised by the CDU but may be supervised by a Formal Supervision Unit. If a youth does not cooperate with the terms of a DPA, the District Attorney may file a formal court petition. 

Consent Decree

A consent decree is an agreement whereby the parties all agree to the disposition recommendations, however there is no actual finding that the youth is delinquent. The case is held open for a period of time and if there is compliance with the terms of the Consent Decree, the case is then dismissed. This is similar to the First Offenders program in adult court. If the youth violates the Consent Decree, then it is likely the case will return to court, a delinquency finding may be made and a formal court order may be entered.

Ongoing Supervision Services

If the outcome of a youth’s referral results in formal court supervision, their case will be transferred from the Formal Intake to an Ongoing Youth Justice Services. At this time an Ongoing Youth Justice Social Worker will be assigned to work with the youth and family. They are responsible for monitoring the progress of the case and supporting the youth in successfully completing the period of their formal court supervision.

 The Ongoing Youth Justice Social Worker will assist the youth and family in developing a case plan using the YASI Assessment and Collaborative Case Works Model. This plan will identify areas of strengths and needs to establish agreed upon outcomes. The case plan will also identify strategies, services and supports to help the youth achieve their goals.

The Ongoing Social Worker will assist the youth and family in finding and obtaining needed services and supports.

Services and supports may be both formal and informal and may address a variety of areas including but not limited to: Monitoring/Supervision, Decision Making/Problem Solving, AODA/Mental Health, Family Relationships, Community/Peers, Anger Management, School, Employment and Skill Building.

The youth’s case plan and progress are reviewed regularly during their period of supervision and changes are made as needed.
The Ongoing Youth Justice Social Worker will work with the youth and family until the youth has successfully completed their period of court supervision.

If a youth receives a new law enforcement referral during their period of supervision, their Ongoing Youth Justice Social Worker will do an updated assessment and make a recommendation to the District Attorney regarding the filing of a petition. 

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.
Kinship Care Application

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.