Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities

 

 

Access and Initial Assessment (IA) Information

Access

Access is the process of receiving, analyzing and documenting reports of alleged child maltreatment. The functions of Access are as follows:

  • Receive and document reports of alleged maltreatment from the community
  • Identify families that the child protective services (CPS) system must respond to
  • Determine the urgency of the response time
  • Initiate an assessment of child safety and family strengths

Indian Child Welfare at Access

Tribal engagement should begin at the point of Access. A CPS agency is able to disclose information to the tribal social services department to support tribal staff in clearly identifying the child, facilitate a county-tribal collaborative response whenever possible, and facilitate the delivery of prevention and supportive services by the tribe.

Requirements:

Initial Assessment

Initial assessment is the process of:

  • Investigating alleged maltreatment
  • Assessing the family condition to determine if the conditions and/or behaviors in the home pose a risk to a child’s safety
  • Determining what services may be needed to help the family enhance parental protective capacities to establish a safe environment for the child(ren)

Initial Assessment has three tiers; Primary, Secondary and Non-Caregiver.

Role of CPS Caseworker in a Primary Assessment

A primary assessment will be completed when the alleged maltreatment is by parents, caregivers, other’s living in the household, or an unknown maltreater. The case worker must:

Conduct a comprehensive assessment in order to:

  • assess and analyze Present and Impending Danger Threats to child safety
  • take action, when necessary, to control threats to child safety
  • determine the need for CPS Ongoing Services (voluntary or court-ordered)
  • determine whether maltreatment occurred
  • assist families in identifying community resources

Engage families in providing protection for their children

Explain the initial assessment process to the family including the purpose of the interview(s) and any needed collaboration with other agencies (e.g., law enforcement, regulatory agency)

Identify children who may be subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act

Role of CPS Caseworker in a Secondary and Non-Caregiver Assessment

A secondary or non-caregiver assessment will be completed if the alleged maltreatment is by someone outside the family. The case worker must:

Explain the initial assessment process to the family including the purpose of the interview(s) and any needed collaboration with other agencies (law enforcement, regulatory agency)

Notify the family of their right to consent to an interview of their child as well as themselves

Explain how information obtained during the initial assessment may be used (court proceeding)

Conduct an assessment to:

  • assist parents in managing any Present Danger Threats to child safety, when needed
  • determine the need for CPS ongoing services (voluntary or court-ordered)
  • in secondary assessments, determine whether maltreatment occurred
  • assist families in identifying community resources, and arranging services for their child, when needed

Collaborate, as appropriate, with law enforcement, licensing, regulatory, or administrative agencies

Identify children who may be subject to the Indian Child Welfare Act

Indian Child Welfare at Initial Assessment

In all aspects of CPS intervention, an Indian child’s family and tribe must be informed and the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) must be followed.

During Initial Assessment, caseworkers must determine whether the child has American Indian heritage and might be affiliated with a tribe or tribes. The process required to make and document this determination is described in the Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act Desk Aid (DCF-P-2536).

Use of Separation/Placement of an Indian Child

Active efforts are required when an Indian child is separated or placed as part of CPS intervention. These efforts include ongoing, vigorous and concerted interventions which are intended to promote communication, collaboration, and coordination with the Indian child’s tribe in all aspects of CPS intervention.

More information about active efforts can be found in this Active Efforts Guide (DCF-P-464)

Additional Indian Child Welfare information is available at Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act.

Access and Initial Assessment Resources

Statutes, Standards, Policies

Statutes

Chapter 48 (the Children’s Code) is the Wisconsin statute governing the CPS Access and Initial Assessment process and requirements

Standards

Child Protective Services Access and Initial Assessment Standards guides practice for Wisconsin’s CPS Access and Initial Assessment functions.

Child Protective Services Safety Intervention Standards guides practice for the assessment and intervention of safety in Wisconsin’s CPS system.

Policy Memos

Child Welfare Policy Memos - This is a searchable table of all active memos related to Wisconsin Child Welfare.

WICWA

Wisconsin Indian Child Welfare Act provides information on the required responsibilities for Indian child welfare practices in Wisconsin.

Reports and Data

Additional Information

Training