October 28, 1999

Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services 

To: Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Department of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities
   Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Program Office Directors/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Susan Dreyfus
Re: Listening Sessions Related to Independent Living for Children in Out of-Home Care

This is to announce that we will be holding listening sessions on the many issues related to older children in out-of-home care who, in all likelihood, will age out of the child welfare system. We know that these children are more likely to have substance abuse and mental health problems, become involved in the criminal justice system, depend on financial support programs, and be homeless for varying periods of time.

At the present time, we provide funding to 40 counties, 2 tribes and the Department of Corrections, Division of Juvenile Services to offer independent living services. Statewide, the number of children receiving such services is significantly less than the number of children aging out of care.

The purpose of these listening sessions is to provide an opportunity to share information on what we know about these children and to obtain the best thinking of individuals and agencies which come into contact with these children. I am asking that representatives of child welfare agencies, AODA programs, mental health agencies, law enforcement, schools and other agencies attend these listening sessions to assist us in determining how we can best establish policies and provide funding to assure that these children are prepared for life on their own after they leave out-of-home care.

The listening sessions are as follow:

Thursday, Nov. 18 Rice Lake Public Library
Friendship Room
2 E. Marshall
(Marshall & Main)
Rice Lake, WI
(715) 234-4861
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Friday, Nov. 19 Holiday Acres Resort
4060 S. Shore Drive
Rhinelander, WI
(715) 369-1500
2:00 PM to 4:00 PM
Tuesday, Nov. 30 Best Western Midway
2901 Martin Avenue
Wausau, WI
(715) 842-1616
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
Wed.,  Dec 8 Bureau of Milwaukee Child
Welfare Site
1, Large Conference Rm
1730 West North Avenue
Milwaukee, WI
Contact: Ulla Pinion, (414) 220-7709
1:00 PM to 5:00 PM
Tuesday, Dec 14 Comfort Inn
4822 E. Washington Ave
Madison, WI
(608) 244-6265
1:00 PM to 3:00 PM
6:00 PM to 8:00 PM

We have established a panel representative of many agencies at the state and local level. The panel will be co-chaired by Rita Wisnewski, a family-operated group home parent from Mosinee, and I. Dr. Mark Courtney will serve as consultant to the panel. Mark Mitchell, Manager of the Child Welfare Services Section, and Betty Barrett, a doctoral student working with Mark Courtney, will serve as staff to the panel.

The panel will attend the listening sessions and then, in subsequent meetings and based on the information obtained at the listening sessions, develop recommendations to the Division on the content of independent living programs, what policies need to be developed and how available funding can best be used.

I would appreciate it if you would share this memo with agencies in your communities which have an interest in and contact with these children. It is critical that we obtain the best advice we can from people with the expertise to know how we can best serve children aging out of out-of-home care.

Thank you very much for your assistance and cooperation.

CENTRAL OFFICE CONTACT: Mark S. Mitchell, Manager
Child Welfare Services Section
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 266-2860
FAX: 608-264-6750
e-mail: mitchms@dhfs.state.wi.us

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