DCFS INFO MEMO 2006 - 08
May 18, 2006
STATE OF WISCONSIN
Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services
||Area Administrators/Human Services Area Coordinators
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
||2005 Wisconsin Act 232, Changes Impacting the
Investigation of Child Maltreatment by Non-Caregivers
Governor Doyle recently signed 2005 Wisconsin Act 232 into law.
Act 232 makes a number of changes to Chapter 48 that are being addressed
in four Information Memos. This memo addresses one of the changes:
investigation of child abuse by a person who is not a caregiver, as
defined in s. 48.981(1)(am), Stats. Act 232 can be found at the following
web address: http://www.legis.state.wi.us/2005/data/acts/05Act232.pdf
Act 232 eliminates the requirement that county departments, the Bureau
of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW), or a licensed child welfare agency
under contract with the county department or BMCW (hereinafter referred to
collectively as "agency") investigate reports of alleged abuse
by a person who is not a "caregiver" as defined in s.
48.981(1)(am), Stats. Under the new law, the decision to investigate such
reports is discretionary. This part of Act 232 becomes effective on
October 1, 2006.
A "caregiver" is defined as any of the following persons,
with respect to the child who is the alleged victim:
a relative of the child
the child's guardian
the child's legal custodian
a person who resides or has resided
regularly or intermittently in the same dwelling as the child
an employee of a residential facility or
residential care center for children and youth in which the child was
or is placed
a person who provides or has provided care
for the child in or outside of the child's home
- any other person who exercises or has exercised temporary or
permanent control over the child or who supervises or has supervised
The "child's dwelling" refers to the private residence where
a child's parent, guardian, legal custodian, Indian custodian, or Kinship
Care provider would normally reside with the child. Dwellings include
private residences shared by family members, foster families, and
unrelated individuals. It includes the home of a non-custodial parent when
a child resides with that parent. The "child's dwelling" does
not include residential facilities or other facilities which depend solely
on professional care providers.
A brief description of the provisions in the new law that impact child
protective services responsibilities is provided below.
- The sheriff or police department shall refer to the agency all of
the following types of cases reported to the sheriff or police
||Cases in which a caregiver is suspected
of maltreatment or threatened maltreatment of a child.
||Cases in which a caregiver is suspected
of facilitating or failing to take action to prevent the suspected
or threatened maltreatment of a child.
||Cases in which it cannot be determined
who maltreated or threatened to maltreat a child.
||Cases in which there is reason to
suspect that an unborn child has been abused or there is reason to
believe that an unborn child is at substantial risk of abuse.
The sheriff or police department may refer
to the agency a case reported to the sheriff or police department in
which a person who is not a caregiver is suspected of abuse or of
threatened abuse of a child.
Immediately after receiving a report, the
agency shall evaluate the report to determine whether there is reason
to suspect that a caregiver has maltreated the child, has threatened
the child with maltreatment, or has facilitated or failed to take
action to prevent the suspected or threatened maltreatment.
If the agency determines that a caregiver
is suspected of maltreating a child or cannot determine who maltreated
the child, the agency shall initiate a diligent investigation within
24 hours after receiving the report.
If the agency determines that a person who
is not a caregiver is suspected of abuse or threatened abuse, the
agency may initiate a diligent investigation. The requirement for
initiating the investigation within 24 hours does not apply in these
cases. However, any investigations conducted in these cases must still
be done in accordance with all other standards established by the
Department of Health and Family Services.
- The requirement to make a determination about whether maltreatment
occurred or is likely to occur applies only to those reports that the
Provisions that are Unchanged
Some of the provisions in s. 48.981, Stats., and related standards that
remain unchanged by Act 232 include the following:
Reporting laws are unaffected by Act 232.
Therefore, mandated reporters must still report suspected abuse or
threatened abuse, even if they believe the suspected abuser is a
non-caregiver. The Legislature has vested the authority to decide
whether the suspected abuser is a caregiver or whether a caregiver has
facilitated the suspected maltreatment or failed to take action to
prevent the suspected maltreatment with the law enforcement offices
and child protective services agencies.
If the agency receives a report of abuse
by a non-caregiver from a mandated or relative reporter, the agency
must provide feedback to the reporter in accordance with s.
48.981(3)(c)6. and 6m., Stats.
All reports received by the agency must be
documented in eWiSACWIS, including reports that the agency decides are
reports of alleged abuse by a non-caregiver in which no caregiver
facilitated the abuse or failed to protect. These reports may be
screened out, and the screening decision must be documented in
- Agencies must still refer to law enforcement offices cases of abuse
under s. 48.02(1)(b) to (f), Stats., (i.e., sexual abuse or threatened
sexual abuse) received. "Cases" include reports of sexual
abuse screened-out by the agency based on the alleged abuser being a
Changes Required in Standards and Policies
There are several currently published standards and policies that will
be revised to incorporate the changes brought about by Act 232. These
include, at a minimum:
the Child Protective Services Access
Standard for Receipt and Analysis of Report Information, issued in
November of 2005;
the Standard for Collaboration with Law
Enforcement Agencies, issued in February of 2004;
the Child Protective Services
Investigation Standards, issued in August of 1994 and revised in
January of 2000; and
- Case Finding Determinations in Cases of Child Abuse and Neglect,
reissued in August of 1998.
The CPS Investigation Standards and the Case Finding Determinations
policy are being revised as part of the Program Enhancement Plan (PEP)
response to the Child and Family Services Review (CFSR). Act 232 changes
will be incorporated into those policies as part of the planned broader
revision process and within the timeframe determined by the PEP. With
regard to the Child Protective Services Access Standard for Receipt and
Analysis of Report Information and the Standard for Collaboration with Law
Enforcement Agencies, the plan at this time is to disseminate information
highlighting changes to those policies resulting from Act 232 within the
next 6 months. The revised standards, however, may not be formally
reissued until a later time. The PEP Child Welfare Case Process Committee
will assist with these revisions. As revisions are made to standards and
policies, eWiSACWIS will be updated as necessary.
Impact on Other Partners in the Community
Although this Act does not change requirements for reporting suspected
maltreatment, it does change existing requirements for CPS response.
Mandated reporters will need information as to why the CPS agency might
not respond when the mandated reporters are still required to report to
either law enforcement offices or CPS. The greater impact of Act 232 may
be on law enforcement offices, particularly in counties where the law
enforcement agencies may have relied to some extent on CPS interviews in
cases of suspected abuse by non-caregivers.
The six-month delay in the implementation of these provisions in Act
232 should afford agencies the time to review their options and determine
what actions they will take, discuss the impact of the law with others in
the community, and coordinate with relevant community partners any changes
to be made in the response system. Agencies are encouraged to discuss the
new law with law enforcement offices as soon as possible, particularly if
the agency intends to screen out reports of abuse by non-caregivers. The
MOU with law enforcement offices, as referenced in the Standard for
Collaboration with Law Enforcement Agencies, should be reviewed and
The Division and Area Administration staff will work with county
departments, the Department of Justice, and others to identify what
additional information or support might be needed to assist in the system
Effective Date: The above provisions in this law become effective
October 1, 2006.
|REGIONAL OFFICE CONTACT:
|CENTRAL Office CONTACT:
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
||County CPS Supervisors
Director of State Courts Office
Tribal Child Welfare Contact Persons