Child Abuse and Neglect Program
(Child Protective Services)
Structure of CPS
Wisconsinís Child Protective Services program is state-supervised and
county- administered in 71 counties and state-administered and Milwaukee
County. Alleged child maltreatment is
reported to all 71 county of human/social services departments in the state and
to the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare. The role of the Department is to
supervise the county programs and assure that there are statewide policies and
procedures that support the goals of child protective services: child safety
Reports made to law enforcement agencies must be referred to the county Child
Protective Services (CPS) agency within 12 hours of receipt. All cases of
suspected sexual abuse of a child must be reported by the CPS agency to a law
enforcement agency within 12 hours of receipt.
Upon receiving a report, the county agency first determines if the
information constitutes an allegation of child maltreatment or threatened harm
as defined by Wisconsin law. If the report is found
to meet the definition of child maltreatment, the CPS worker in the agency
must initiate an initial assessment within 24 hours after receipt of the report
and complete it within 60 days. Reports that suggest a child is in current or
imminent danger receive an immediate response.
The focus of the CPS assessment is to assure child safety and to work with
the family to determine whether the child and family are in need of any
services. The assessment must be conducted in accordance with the investigation
standards established by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family
Services. Established in September of 2007, the
Child Protective Service Access and Initial Assessment Standards recognize that the CPS role must differ in cases of
familial and non-familial maltreatment.
In 2002, the Ongoing Child Protective Services Standards and Practice
Guidelines became effective. These standards and guidelines direct and
support the case management of ongoing services to children and families in
cases where children are found to be unsafe or at risk of maltreatment.
In Wisconsin, child protective services staff utilize the Wisconsin
Model, a specific structure for gathering, organizing and assessing
relevant information in Child Protective Services (CPS) cases so it may be used
most effectively to make critical decisions.
If the report is accepted by the agency for assessment, a caseworker will
assess the situation and work with the family to determine what, if anything
must be done to protect the child and help the family.
Services available to help the family and the child include counseling,
in-home services, assistance or training in home and financial management,
parent education, and self-help groups. In severe situations, it may be
necessary to temporarily place a child in out-of-home care.
The focus of the CPS assessment is not to establish legal culpability (cases
are referred to law enforcement and then possibly to court for that purpose),
but to assure the childís safety and to determine whether the child and
family are in need of any services. The initial assessment must be conducted in
accordance with standards established by the Wisconsin Department of Health and
December 23, 2010