DCFS INFO MEMO 99-01
January 14, 1999
STATE OF WISCONSIN
Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services
||Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
DCFS Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Program Office Directors/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
||Susan N. Dreyfus
||1997 Wisconsin Acts 237 and 294; Changes to Ch. 48,
1997 Wisconsin Acts 237 and 294 (attached) made some changes to Ch. 48, Wis. Stats.
This memo will attempt to summarize some of the more significant of those changes. Many of
the changes were made in order to bring Wisconsin statutes into compliance with the
federal Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997. Some of these items will require
additional guidelines which will be issued under a separate memo.
- In numerous places throughout Ch. 48, language was added to address the safety of the
child. For example, whenever a statute addressed the issue of a childs return home
or appropriateness of a placement, language was added to address the childs safe
return home and assessing for the safety and appropriateness of the
placement. Another example is that where the statute referred to "the adoption of
children into stable families" the statute now refers to promoting "the adoption
of children into safe and stable families." The safety
of the childs placement is now a factor that must be reviewed at all permanency plan
- This Act made changes to some of the requirements about which hearings foster parents
have to receive notice of and when they have a right to make a statement. More information
about this has been provided in a separate memo.
- For the first time, Wisconsin statutes address the issue of concurrent planning stating
that the agency may, while making reasonable efforts to reunify a family,
make reasonable efforts to place the child for adoption, with a guardian or in some other
alternative permanent placement. As more information is formulated regarding guidelines of
how to implement concurrent planning and appropriate cases in which to do so, that
information will be provided.
- Also for the first time, Wisconsin statutes provide for situations in which agencies are
not required to make reasonable efforts to reunite a family. Only a court can make the
determination that reasonable efforts are not required to reunite a family. If this
decision is made, a permanency hearing must be held within 30 days to determine the
permanency plan for the child (s. 48.355(2d)(c). The four main situations when this
option is allowed are:
- when a parent has subjected the child to aggravated circumstances, which are defined in
- when one parent is convicted of intentional or reckless homicide of the other parent.
- when the parent has been convicted of certain crimes (defined in s. 48.355(2d)(b)2.)
such as physical or sexual abuse to the child or another child of the parent and that
violation resulted in great bodily harm or substantial bodily harm to the child or;
- if the parental rights of the parent to another child have been involuntarily
- In determining the length of time a child has been out of his or her home, whichever
date is earlier of the following two options should be used: the date on which the court
first found that child was subjected to abuse or neglect or 60 days after the date on
which the child was removed from his or her home.
- If the permanent goal for a child is to be placed for adoption, with a guardian or in
some other alternative permanent placement, the permanency plan must include a description
of the efforts that have been made to achieve that goal.
- The amount of time in which a child can be out of his or her home before a permanency
plan review must examine the appropriateness of the permanency plan and the circumstances
which prevent the child from being returned home or placed in another permanent setting
has been changed from two years to 15 of the most recent 22 months.
- An additional ground for termination of parental rights was added to include when a
court of competent jurisdiction has found that the child was abandoned when the child was
under one year of age. This finding must have been made under s. 48.13(2) or s. 948.20 or
comparable statutes in other state or federal laws.
- The law now requires that a termination of parental rights petition be filed under
certain circumstances (defined in s. 48.417) unless the child is being cared for by a
relative, the childs permanency plan indicates that termination of parental rights
is not in the best interests of the child or the agency primarily responsible for
providing services to the child and the family has not made reasonable efforts.
- The Department of Health and Family Services shall be provided information regarding any
person who is denied a foster care license for reasons related to the caregiver background
check. This information should be sent to Bureau of Regulation and Licensing, Division of
Children and Family Services, 1 West Wilson Street, P. O. Box 8916, Madison, Wisconsin
- An additional provision in s. 48.415(2) related to involuntary termination of parental
rights was created for a child who has a continuing need of protection or services. The
new option applies to a child who on three or more occasions has been adjudicated to be in
need of protection or services and placed outside of his or her home by an order of the
juvenile court due to conditions caused by the parent. This option allows an agency to
seek a termination of parental rights for a child who experiences multiple placements even
if they are of short duration.
Please review the statutes carefully as the changes referenced above are only the most
|REGIONAL OFFICE CONTACT:
|CENTRAL OFFICE CONTACT:
Out-of-Home Care Planner
1 West Wilson Street
P. O. Box 8916
Madison, Wisconsin 53708-8916
Fax: (608) 264-6750
||Directors, Private Child Placing Agencies
County Foster Care Coordinators