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

                   DCFS Memo Series 2003 - 13
                   December 2, 2003

                     AND ACCESS TO THE SYSTEM



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
Licensing Chiefs/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators


Kitty Kocol

Document Summary

This memo and the attached policy identify policies and procedures related to maintaining the confidentiality of and access to information stored in the Wisconsin State Automated Child Welfare Information System (WiSACWIS).


As you are aware, we have been studying the issues related to confidentiality of information maintained in WiSACWIS and policies and procedures related to direct access to the system. These are complex issues that involve a variety of state and federal laws and regulations related to WiSACWIS itself and to confidentiality. In addition, for the next several months we will be applying policies to the existing WiSACWIS and later this year will modify, as necessary, those policies to reflect the technological realities of e-WiSACWIS.

Attached is the document entitled "Access to WiSACWIS and Information Contained in WiSACWIS Confidentiality Policy." I believe that this policy reflects the requirements noted above and our need to both share and protect child welfare-related information. As the policy notes, the nature of any automated system or policies related to it will always be dependent upon those with access to the system recognizing and being compliant with all applicable policies, regulations, laws and professional ethics. That recognition and compliance is an intrinsic part of the attached policy. All county agencies and contract agencies will be expected to implement this policy.

In terms of the policy, I draw your specific attention to the following important considerations:

Section III. Statutory/Regulatory Requirements

It is important to keep in mind that there are specific requirements in statutes relating to the release of information contained in records that created or is otherwise the property of the child welfare agency. There are also specific requirements in statutes relating to the release or re-release of information contained in child welfare records that are the property of other systems or professionals (e.g., psychological assessments).

It is also important to note that under federal regulations (Ref. 45 CFR 1355.52 through 1355.57) WiSACWIS must be statewide system. This means that all counties must have access to and use the system. Core functionality must be built into WiSACWIS and may not be "uploaded" from stand-alone or alternate child welfare data systems. Within the limits we are allowed to implement based on job functions, staff from one county must have access to information from other counties. This is an inherent aspect of the "statewideness" required by the federal regulations.

Section IV. Notification

Access to information does not negate the requirement to notify the record custodian that a record has been accessed, what information was accessed, and the purpose of that access.

Section V. Scope of Agreements

Three types of agreements are discussed and attached to the policy:

  • Agency Agreement: To be entered into by any individual or agency, other than this Department or a county department, that will have direct access to WiSACWIS for the purpose of either obtaining or inputting information from WiSACWIS.

  • User Agreement: To be entered into by all employees of this Department, a county department, or an agency entering into an Agency Agreement.

  • Data Sharing Agreement: To be entered into by any individual or agency which receives information from WiSACWIS but which does not have direct access to WiSACWIS

The process for requesting access to the system will continue to be the existing process: Requests for access must be submitted to the DCFS IT Liaison at DHFS/DCFS, P.O. Box 8916, Madison, WI 53708-8916. Normal requests (i.e., for access by county department staff) will be approved based on the information received. Any requests that are in some way out of the ordinary will be forwarded by the DCFS IT Liaison to the Bureau of Programs and Policies. Any such request will be evaluated against the criteria established in the policy. Please note that the process will be facilitated by submitting all of the required information. The Division reserves the right to deny requested access to WiSACWIS by any individual or agency even if the criteria are met. In such a case, justification will be provided with the denial of the request.

As we prepare for the implementation of e-WiSACWIS, we will revise this policy as necessary and provide you with the revised policy and updated information. Thank you very much for your cooperation in implementing this important policy.



Area Administrator



Deb Rogers
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 266-3228
FAX: (608) 266-6836

Confidentiality Issues
Mark Mitchell, Manager
Policy Coordination Section
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 261-8316
FAX: (608) 266-0260

Attachment:  get acrobat
Access to WiSACWIS & Information Contained in WiSACWIS
(pdf-17 kb) 


County CPS Supervisors
James Moeser, DOC/DJC

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