About Us


The Department of Children and Families (DCF) provides or oversees county administration of programs to assist children and families. Those include assistance for children in need of protection or services, adoption and foster care services, the licensing of facilities that provide out-of-home care for children, background investigations of child caregivers, child abuse and neglect investigations, and community-based juvenile justice services. DCF also administers the Wisconsin Works (W-2) public assistance program, including the Wisconsin Shares child care subsidy program, the YoungStar child care quality improvement program, the child support enforcement and paternity establishment program, and programs related to the federal Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF) income support program. The department works to ensure that families have access to high quality and affordable early childhood care and education and administers the licensing and regulation of child care centers. The Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board is administratively attached to the Department of Children and Families.

Vision and Priorities

Our department’s vision is that all Wisconsin children and youth are safe and loved members of thriving families and communities. To reach our goal, we are focused on reducing racial and ethnic disparities in our programs and services, focusing on five key priorities:

  • Systematically increasing access to quality early care and education programs that support the needs of children and families statewide;
  • Putting families in the center of successful child support and good-paying jobs programs;
  • Safely transforming the child welfare and youth justice system to dramatically increase the proportion of children supported in their homes and communities;
  • Dedicating additional resources to support vulnerable and historically underserved youth, specifically teenage girls, kids with complex care needs, and youth transitioning out of the foster care system;
  • Fostering a workplace where agency staff feel engaged, valued, and connected to our vision.

Organizational Structure

DCF Hierarchy

Secretary's Office

The Secretary’s Office is the general management for the Department and provides the principal support to the Secretary in formulating policy and providing advice. The DCF Secretary’s Office contains the Executive Team, Communications Team, Office of Legal Counsel, Office of Inspector General, Office of Budget and Policy, Tribal Affairs Liaison, Legislative Liaison, Deputy Legislative Liaison, Urban Liaison, Strategic Initiatives Advisor, and Economic Development Specialist.

Division of Early Care and Education (DECE)

The Division of Early Care and Education (DECE) houses Child Care Licensing and Certification, Milwaukee County Child Care Administration, the YoungStar Program, Wisconsin Shares, Operations and Planning, and Program Integrity. DECE aims to provide access to affordable, high-quality child care and early education experiences, to enhance our children's development, and to support their families in work and parenting roles.

Division of Management Services (DMS)

The Division of Management Services (DMS) oversees financial management, information systems and technology; affirmative action and civil rights compliance; purchasing and contract administration; facilities management; project management; and other administrative services for the Department.

Division of Family and Economic Security (DFES)

The Division of Family and Economic Security (DFES) houses the Wisconsin Works, Child Support, Refugee Services, and the Transform Milwaukee and Transitional Jobs programs. DFES provides short term help and resources to people working to become self-sufficient.

Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS)

The Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS) works with families to ensure the safety and well-being of children.

In partnership with many other community based resources, DMCPS provides services to families in crisis that help keep children safely in the home. When it is necessary, DMCPS looks to foster and adoptive families to provide appropriate temporary and permanent homes for children who cannot live with their parents.

Division of Safety and Permanence (DSP)

The Division of Safety and Permanence houses child welfare foster care and adoption assistance, the Bureau of Youth Services, the Juvenile Justice Youth Aids Program and domestic abuse prevention.

It focuses on protecting the most vulnerable; especially those who have been victims of child abuse or neglect, domestic abuse, or sex trafficking. It also looks to the future, with a keen eye placed upon improving long-term outcomes for foster youth and young people in the juvenile justice system that are at risk of moving into the adult correctional system without appropriate intervention.

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