DCFS INFO MEMO 2005 -
October 26, 2005
STATE OF WISCONSIN
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.
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:
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.