STATE OF WISCONSIN
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:
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.