Programs for Children


Adoption creates a parent-child relationship with all the rights and responsibilities a birth parent has to a child. A child can be adopted by a stepparent in Wisconsin when a birth parent is deceased or the rights of one birth parent has been terminated by a court. For all other types of adoptions in Wisconsin the statutes require that the rights of both birth parents are terminated by a death or by a voluntary or involuntary court action. An adoption home study is required for all adoptions except stepparent adoptions, where a less intensive screening occurs.

Adoption Records Search

The Adoption Records Search is available to adult adoptees, adoptees whose birth parent(s) terminated parental rights when they were minors, adoptive parents, and birth parents.

Child Protective Services 

The purposes of Wisconsinís Child Protective Services Program are:

  • To protect the health, safety, and welfare of children by encouraging the reporting of suspected child abuse and neglect;
  • To assure that appropriate protective services are provided to abused and neglected children and their families and to protect children from further harm;
  • To provide support, counseling, and other services to children and their families to ameliorate the effects of child abuse and neglect;
  • To promote the well being of the child in his or her home setting, wherever possible, or in another safe and stable placement.

Child Welfare Licensing Section

The Department of Children and Families (DCF), is responsible for licensing and monitoring the three types of children's residential programs, Residential Care Centers for Children and Youth (RCC), Group Homes (GH) and Shelter Care Facilities. The purpose of the program is to promote the health, safety and welfare of children in community care arrangements. The Department ensures that licensing requirements are met through on-going inspections of programs. In addition, the Department licenses private Child Placing Agencies, which are child welfare agencies licensed to place children in licensed family foster homes, treatment foster homes, and licensed group homes. Child placing agencies may license their own family foster homes.

Child Welfare Program 

Wisconsin has a state supervised, county-operated child welfare program.  The state manages child welfare services in Milwaukee county and the adoption program.  The child welfare program information presented includes: plans, reports and statistics, program outcomes assessments, program reviews, and activity information related to the child welfare program.

Child Welfare Training System

The Wisconsin child welfare training system develops and delivers competency-based training to child welfare staff, managers and caregivers. The training provided is family centered, child focused, strength based, culturally responsive and designed to result in competent delivery of child welfare services throughout Wisconsin.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence is a pattern of coercive behavior that may include physical, sexual, economic, emotional, and/or psychological abuse by an intimate or family member.

Foster Care

Every day foster families in Wisconsin make an incredible difference by providing safe and caring homes for children living in foster care.  Family foster care and treatment foster care are designed to be temporary placements for children when their parents cannot care for them.

Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children (ICPC)

Wisconsin's Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children ensure that children in need of out-of-home placement in and from other states receive the same protections guaranteed to the children placed in care within Wisconsin.

Independent Living

Independent living services are designed to help youth 15 to 21 years of age gain the skills necessary for successful transition from out-of-home care to living independently in the community.

Indian Child Welfare

The Indian Child Welfare was passed by Congress in 1978 to "protect the best interests of Indian children and to promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families." This law requires state, county and private agencies to follow specific processes to remove Indian children from their homes or from Indian custodians when deemed in need of protection or services for reasons other than delinquency and divorce.

Kinship Care

Kinship Care is a program designed to help support a child who resides outside of his or her own home, either temporarily or for the long term, with the relative (such as an adult brother or sister, a first cousin, a nephew or niece, an uncle or aunt or a grandparent, among others).

Paternal Interest (Putative Father) Registry

The Wisconsin Paternal Interest Registry is a way for putative (possible) fathers to get notice if their child is involved in a termination of parental rights or adoption.

Promoting Safe & Stable Families

The Promoting Safe and Stable Families (PSSF) Program focuses on helping families stay together. It seeks to prevent child abuse and neglect, avoid the removal of children from their homes and supports timely reunification where temporary removal has been necessary, in order to ensure children's safety.

Safety and Well-Being for Immigrant and Refugee Children and Families

Protecting the safety and well-being of immigrant and refugee families in the child welfare system requires knowledge about the laws affecting immigrant families and awareness of specific considerations. With this knowledge, we can better ensure that those families can access available services and supports.

Title IV-E

Title IV-E is a subpart of Title IV of the federal Social Security Act. This program provides federal reimbursement to states for the costs of children placed in foster homes or other types of out-of-home care under a court order or voluntary placement agreement.

Child Welfare Complaint Procedure

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.