STATE OF WISCONSIN
1997 Wisconsin Act 80 (attached) made some changes to Ch. 48, Wis. Stats. These changes impact child welfare practice in two main areas: providing notice of court hearings to out-of-home care providers and issues around termination of parental rights (TPR). A summary of the information pertaining to notifying substitute care providers of court hearings and their right to make a statement at court hearings is being issued in a separate information memo.
With regard to TPR proceedings, several changes were made in 1997 Wisconsin Act 80. First, in s. 48.415(2)(c), the ground that "the parent has failed to demonstrate substantial progress towards meeting the conditions established for the return of the child to the home" was changed to "the parent has failed to meet the conditions established for the safe return of the child to the home."
Second, a change was made to s. 48.415(8). Before, a conviction of intentional or reckless homicide of the other parent of a child was a ground for an involuntary TPR. Now, the statute includes as a TPR ground, a conviction under federal law or the law of any other state that is comparable to the Wisconsin crime of intentional or reckless homicide. A conviction that was obtained prior to the effective date of the law can be considered in determining whether to find grounds to terminate the rights of that parent.
Third, s. 48.421(1m)(d) was created to say that any order under s. 48.42 regarding visitation between parent and child during the TPR proceedings would suspend any order setting rules of parental visitation in the dispositional and extension of dispositional order until the termination of the temporary order under s. 48.42.
Finally, and unrelated to the TPR issues above, s. 48.977 (1) was amended, slightly changing the definition of a relative who can be appointed as guardian for certain children in need of protection or services.