Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare
The Department of Children and Families and the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) are
continually looking for ways to better serve the children and families
under our supervision. The following are new initiatives currently
underway at BMCW.
Families Come First
The Wisconsin Department of
Children and Families, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) received
a grant from the US Administration for Children and Families to
implement a pilot in collaboration with Meta House, Inc., to provide an
alternative response for children who are at
risk of entering foster care due to substance abuse by the mother.
Meta House is a family treatment program for women with substance use
disorders and their children located in the City of
The pilot, Families Come First, began in February 2010 and targets
infants who are positive for toxic substances at birth and their
mothers, as well as pregnant women who are abusing alcohol and/or drugs.
In this collaboration and teaming process, the BMCW and Meta House
respond jointly to allegations of child maltreatment that involve
substance use to identify the impact on child safety, provide a faster
and family-centered response, and actively involve mothers in the safety
decisions for their children while keeping them together. This
two-generational approach appreciates that treatment of the mother
fosters prevention for her children. It recognizes that, for mothers,
the welfare of children and substance abuse recovery are intimately
related and dependent upon each other for success.
Meta House, Inc. Substance Abuse
Family-Based Treatment Program, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, and
Milwaukee County Children’s Court
To implement a successful collaboration among the Department of
Children and Families, Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare and Meta House
with a shared purpose of preserving the family unit and supporting the
safety, permanence, and well-being of children.
Women brought to the attention of the BMCW who do not have a current
open case and who have substance affected infants at birth or are
pregnant and using substances.
Meta House uses family-based treatment that is gender specific and
culturally competent. Family-centered treatment requires an array of
services provided by staff in an environment of mutual respect. The
safety of the family comes first with treatment that supports the
creation of healthy family systems.
A family team decision-making process is used that involves the
supportive engagement and empowerment of families, community members,
and service providers in the decision–making process related to the
safety of children. It also enables family members in
collaboration with child welfare staff and service providers, to develop
and implement relevant plans of action.
From February 1, 2010 through February 29, 2012, 445 women were
referred, primarily through hospital social workers via reports to the
Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. Of these, 88 percent had substance
affected infants and 12 percent were pregnant and using substances.
Approximately 55 percent agreed to voluntary collaborative assessment.
An external evaluation of the pilot is being conducted by the
Planning Council for Health and Human Services, Inc., a nonprofit
planning, research, and evaluation agency. The evaluation is designed to
describe the collaboration between BMCW and Meta House and to document
the project’s outcomes with respect to child safety, substance abuse
treatment, and babies’ births.
“Families Come First is
funded through the Department of Health and Human Services,
Administration for Children and Families, Children's Bureau, Family
Connections Residential Family Treatment Projects grant. The contents of
this website do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the
funders, nor does mention of trade names, commercial products or
organizations imply endorsement by the U.S Department of Health and
Human Services. This information is in the public domain. Readers are
encouraged to copy and share it, but please credit the Bureau of
Milwaukee Child Welfare.
Contact the Bureau of Milwaukee
March 28, 2012