DCFS INFO MEMO 2004 - 07

              May 11, 2004


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



Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Programs Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Section Chiefs/Licensing Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Kitty Kocol


Recently Enacted Legislation


The Governor has recently signed several pieces of legislation into law. A brief description of these new laws is found below along with the web address where the acts can be found. I hope you find this helpful.


2003 Wisconsin Act 207; The Disclosure of Public Library Records

This new law requires any library which is, in whole or in part, supported by public funds must, at the request of a custodial parent or guardian of a child under the age of 16, provide to that custodial parent or guardian all library records relating to the use of the library’s documents or other materials, resources, or services by that child.

A "custodial parent" includes a parent other than a parent who has been denied periods of physical placement with a child under s. 767.24(4), Stats. A foster parent or other physical custodian who is not also the child’s guardian does not have this authority.

Effective Date: This law applies to such requests of libraries on or after 
April 23, 2004

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act207.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 222; Stalking

This law adds a new act to the description of what is considered stalking. This new act is "photographing, videotaping, audiotaping, or, through any other electronic means, monitoring or recording the activities of the victim." This applies wherever the act occurs.

In addition, the new law adds a new element to the intent of the stalking law. Previously, the standard was that the act would place the specific person (i.e., the target of the stalking) in "reasonable fear of bodily injury to or the death of himself or herself or a member of his or her family or household." The new standard is that the act would "cause the specific person to suffer serious emotional distress." The term "suffer serious emotional distress" is defined as "to feel terrified, intimidated, threatened, harassed, or tormented." The prosecution would not have to show that the person received or needs professional mental health services to prove that the victim suffered serious emotional distress.

Effective Date: This law became effective on April 27, 2004.

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act222.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 223; Substantial Bodily Harm

Under ss. 48.355(2d) and 938.355(2d), Stats., reasonable efforts to prevent the removal of a child or to reunify a child with his or her parent are not required if the parent has been convicted of certain offenses. Among these offenses is substantial bodily harm to the child or another child of the parent.

This new law revises the definition of substantial bodily harm under s. 939.22(38), Stats. The new language is as follows:

939.22(38) "Substantial bodily harm" means bodily injury that causes a laceration that requires stitches, staples, or a tissue adhesive; any fracture of a bone; a broken nose; a burn; a temporary loss of consciousness, sight or hearing; a concussion; or a loss or fracture of a tooth.

Effective Date: This new definition became effective on April 27, 2004.

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act223.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 224; Lie Detector Tests of Sexual Assault Victims

This law adds to the rights of victims under s. 950.04(1v), Stats., that a victim is not to be the subject of a law enforcement officer’s or district attorney’s order, request, or suggestion that he or she submit to a lie detector test if the person claims to have been the subject of a sexual assault under s. 940.22(2) (sexual contact by a therapist), 940.225 (sexual assault), or 948.02(1) or (2) (first or second degree sexual assault of a child). There is one minor exception to this: A District Attorney can suggest or request a lie detector examination but the victim must be informed that he or she need not consent. A law enforcement officer cannot ever suggest or recommend such a test regardless of whether the victim knows he or she need not consent.

Effective Date: This law became effective on April 27, 2004

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act224.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 225; Marriage License Fees for Domestic Violence; Increasing Assessments Imposed on Persons Convicted of Domestic Abuse Offenses

Currently, counties retain $24.50 from the cost of a marriage license. Of that amount, $20.00 must be used for family court counseling services. This law allows, but does not require, a county to use the remaining funds for education, training, or services related to domestic violence.

The new law also increases the domestic abuse assessment for persons convicted of certain crimes from $50 to $75.

Effective Date: This law became effective on April 27, 2004.

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act225.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 253; Snowmobile Laws and Safety

This law requires that a child under the age of 16 receive snowmobile safety training that includes six hours of classroom instruction. The instructor may also provide up to two additional hours of instruction on a snowmobile as to how it is actually operated. Please notify foster parents and other caregivers for children of this requirement. We will issue a subsequent numbered memo regarding this as it relates to children in out-of-home care.

Effective Date: This law became effective on April 28, 2004.

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act253.pdf


2003 Wisconsin Act 279; Clergy Reporting of Child Abuse and Neglect

This law makes members of the clergy mandated reporters of child abuse or neglect. As is true of other mandated reporters, this requirement applies if the member of the clergy has seen the child in the course of his or her professional duties. In addition, a member of the clergy must report suspected abuse or neglect of a child, even if he or she has not seen the child in the course of his or her professional duties, if the member of the clergy suspects, based on "observations made or information that he or she receives," that a member of the clergy has abused a child or threatened a child with abuse and abuse of the child will likely occur.

A member of the clergy is not mandated to report abuse or neglect if he or she receives information regarding the abuse or neglect solely through confidential communications or in a confessional setting. See the specific language in the law regarding what constitutes confidential communications and confessional settings.

The new law also extends the period for initiating an action to recover damages for sexual assault of a child to the point that the injured party becomes age 35. The current period is 5 years after the plaintiff discovers the fact and probable cause of the injury.

Finally, the bill creates a cause of action for a child who has been abused by a member of the clergy.

Effective Date: The requirement that members of the clergy report suspected abuse or neglect became effective on May 1, 2004 for any information on abuse or neglect suspected by the clergy obtained on or after that date.

Web Address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2003/data/acts/03Act279.pdf



Area Administrator


Mark S. Mitchell, Manager
Policy Coordination Section
P.O. Box 8716
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 261-8316
FAX: (608) 264-6750
E-Mail: mitchms@dhfs.state.wi.us


County Foster Care Coordinators
Directors, Private Child Placing Agencies
County Child Protective Services Supervisors

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