Child Protective Services (CPS) Appeal Process Worker Information

The federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA) requires that persons have access to due process associated with a substantiated finding of child maltreatment.  This website provides information of Wisconsin’s policies and procedures related to this requirement. 

Appeal Procedures for Substantiated Determinations of Child Abuse or Neglect

Effective January 1, 2015, Wisconsin Statutes, Section 48.981(3)(c)5m and 48.981(3)(c)5p, create a new statewide appeal process for determinations of substantiated child maltreatment by a county department or the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services (DMCPS).

Several documents provide guidance on this statutory requirement.

Wisconsin DCF Administrative Rule 40: Review of a Determination of Child Abuse or Neglect was developed with an advisory group of representatives from the Wisconsin County Human Services Association. It is based on several federal court findings in response to a class action law suit, Dupuy vs. Samuels in Illinois.

DCF Child Welfare Policy Memo 2014-07 (December 19, 2014) outlines specific requirements and changes to the appeal process for substantiated determinations of Child Abuse or Neglect as outlined in the Administrative Rule, Wisconsin DCF 40. This memo supersedes the following memos: DSP 2010-12 and CPS 98-14.

Training and Technical Assistance

Webinar Power Point: CPS Substantiation Appeals provides an overview of the CPS appeal process and policy changes introduced in the 2014-07 policy memo.

Appeals Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) provides answers to common questions about the CPS appeal process.

The Appeals Process Flow Chart is a visual representation of the process.

Detailed discussion and requirements of each step in the appeal process is outlined in the Appeals Process Requirements

A Worker’s Guide to Substantiation Decision Making and the Appeals Process provides foundation of information and resources to assist workers and supervisors:

  • in making the challenging decisions at the point of Initial Assessment (IA) conclusion
  • to help workers understand what to expect during the review/appeal process
  • to provide support and direction when cases are overturned


Legal Issues Regarding Appeals: Notice, Timeliness and Motion Practice Outline provides legal perspective on the CPS appeal process and can be used in consultation with corporation counsel.


The information below provides assistance in documenting and managing CPS appeals in Electronic Wisconsin’s State Automated Child Welfare Information System (eWiSACWIS):

The Notification and Review Process for Substantiated Maltreaters is a document outlines the notification and review process for an alleged maltreater upon supervisory approval of a substantiated Initial Assessment finding.

The Documenting a Maltreater Appeal is a document that provides assistance in recording the outcome of an appeal in eWiSACWIS.

The following guide describes how to cut and paste text from a previously approved and frozen template, to another piece of work or template in eWiSACWIS. This function is known as ‘Copy from Bookmarks’.

Appeal Materials

Appeal forms are listed below. All forms are available in English, Spanish, and Hmong.

Notice of Initial Determination of Child Abuse and/or Neglect and Right to Request a Review Form (DCF-F-5035)

Scheduled Review of the Initial Determination of Child Abuse and/or Neglect Form (DCF-F-5036)

Rescheduled Review of the Initial Determination of Child Abuse and/or Neglect Form (DCF-F-5037)

Notice of Final Determination of Child Abuse and/or Neglect and Right to Request an Appeal-Review Occurred Form (DCF-F-5038a)

Notice of Final Determination of Child Abuse and/or Neglect and Right to Request an Appeal-No Response Form (DCF-F-5038b)

Review and Appeal Processes for Determinations of Child Abuse and Neglect (DCF-P-5095)

A brochure for families explaining the appeal process.

The DCF Child Protective Services Appeal Process web page is a source of information for families.