DCFS INFO MEMO 2005 - 10             October 26, 2005

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

To:  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
From:  Burnie Bridge
Re:  2005 Wisconsin Act 25, Changes Impacting Child Protective Services in the 2005-07 Biennial Budget


Governor Doyle signed 2005 Wisconsin Act 25, the 2005-07 biennial budget, into law. A brief description of the provisions in the new law that impact child welfare services is provided below. Act 25 can be found at the following web address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/acts/05Act25.pdf .

Foster Care Rate Increase

The Governor originally proposed an increase in foster care rates of five percent per year, effective on January 1, 2006 and January 1, 2007. The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee reduced the increase to 2.5 percent each year. The Governor used the partial veto to increase foster care rates by five percent on January 1, 2006, and no additional increase on January 1, 2007. Beginning January 1, 2006, monthly foster care basic rates will be: (a) $317 for a child under five years of age; (b) $346 for a child between five and 11 years of age; (c) $394 for a child between 12 and 14 years of age; and (d) $411 for a child 15 years of age or older.

Funding for rate increases in non-Milwaukee counties is provided through a Community Aids increase in calendar year 2006 and 2007, at the levels approved by the Legislature (2.5% in each year). The additional cost will be $289,300 in 2005-06 and $292,800 in 2006-07. The Department has identified funding for counties in calendar year 2006 for the additional cost of implementing the five per cent increase that is effective January 2006.

Subsidized Guardianship

In 2004, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted a waiver request from the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) to the Title IV-E program which allowed it to implement a subsidized guardianship program. The waiver design required that the DHFS obtain changes to Wisconsin's current guardianship laws. Those changes were made in 2005 Wisconsin Act 25 and are effective July 27, 2005. Although the Subsidized Guardianship Program is being implemented only in Milwaukee County at this time, a number of the statutory changes to Chapter 48 apply statewide. Those statewide changes will be discussed in a separate memo to be issued shortly.

eWiSACWIS Confidentiality Provision

In addition to budgeting changes, the act authorizes DHFS, a county department, or a licensed child welfare agency to enter information into eWiSACWIS that the agency receives about an individual in its care or legal custody or an individual receiving services from the agency. The act also specifies that that authorized users of eWiSACWIS may have access to the information concerning an individual if that information is necessary to enable the county department, DHFS, or other organization to perform its duties or deliver services under the Children's Code (Ch. 48), Juvenile Justice Code (Ch. 938), or Mental Health Act (Ch. 51). Specifically, the act allows the following:

  • Section 48.78(2)(h) expressly allows entry of information under s. 48.78 into eWiSACWIS.

  • The Act also allows for the agencies and organizations it identifies (county departments, DHFS, Department of Corrections, or other organizations who have entered into an agreement with one of those agencies and is appropriately approved for eWiSACWIS access) to have access to eWiSACWIS information regarding a client if necessary to enable the agency or organization to perform its duties under Chs. 48, 51, or 938, Stats.

  • Appropriate staff of county social or human services departments continue to have access to any CPS records and information under ss. 48.981(7)(a)2. and 17., and mental health and AODA information under s. 51.30(4)(b)17 for purposes of s. 48.981(2) and (3) (CPS reports and investigation).

  • Notice provisions under s. 48.78(2)(h), requires notice be provided regarding the entry of eWiSACWIS information before the information is entered applies to information regarding an individual in the care or legal custody of the agency or organization. The notification requirement applies only to persons in the care or legal custody of the agency.

  • Generally, a person would not be in the care or legal custody of an agency until the person is provided ongoing services by the agency, is removed by the agency on an emergency basis or pursuant to court order, or is in the care of the agency under a voluntary placement agreement.

  • For information protected under s. 51.30, Stats, caseworkers cannot enter protected information received from providers until the subject of the information is advised that it will be entered and others will have access to the information. Protected information includes registration records and treatment records.

  • Please note that caseworkers can still obtain protected information from providers: they just cannot enter it into eWISACWIS until notice has been given.

Refugee Family Strengthening Project

The Governor's budget provides $563,000 annually to support a grant to the Refugee Family Strengthening Project which provides domestic abuse services to the refugee population. The funding may be used to hire bilingual staff, especially those who speak Hmong.

Domestic Abuse Grant Program

The Governor's budget provided a small increase in expenditure authority for grants DHFS administers to support services to victims of domestic violence. Under the bill, the funding comes from revenue the state may recieve from the domestic abuse surcharge. In addition, references to specific grant award amounts and the number of grants that DHFS is directed to award to organizations under the domestic abuse grant program were deleted.

The act requires an organization that receives a domestic abuse grant from DHFS in 2005 or after to provide matching funds or in-kind contributions equal to 25% of the amount of the grant and deletes the prior requirements that limited the percentage of the organization's budget that could be funded with grants.

Effective Date: This law, in general, became effective on July 27, 2005.

P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: 608-266-8306
E-Mail: connoc1@dhfs.state.wi.us 


cc: County Child Protective Services Supervisors
County Foster Care Coordinators
Directors, Private Child Placing Agencies
Tribal Child Welfare Contact Persons


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