Public Records Notice

Agency Overview

The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families (“DCF”) administers programs to assist Wisconsin's children and families, including Wisconsin Works (“W-2”), child support, child care licensing, child care assistance, and adoption search and assistance. DCF also administers child welfare programs, including child protective services in Milwaukee County through the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services, and certain juvenile justice programs.

State Public Offices 

The following DCF Positions constitute state public offices:

  • Secretary
  • Deputy Secretary
  • Assistant Deputy Secretary (working title, Assistant Secretary)
  • Administrator of the Division of Early Care and Education
  • Administrator of the Division of Family and Economic Security
  • Administrator of the Division of Management Services
  • Administrator of the Division of Milwaukee Child Protective Services
  • Administrator of the Division of Safety and Permanence
  • Director of the Office of Urban Development
  • Senior Manager
  • General Counsel
  • Legislative Liaison
  • Inspector General

Legal Custodian

DCF’s Legal Custodian of Records is Senior Manager Thomas McCarthy.

Requesting Records

Access to or copies of DCF records may be requested by email, in writing, by telephone, or in person. Requesters are encouraged to include their name and contact information, state how they wish to receive requested records, and describe requested records as precisely as possible. Appropriate records release authorizations or other access authorization information must be provided for records that are confidential by law. If necessary to respond to a public records request, DCF staff may contact the requester for clarification of the request. To submit a public records request:

  • Email the request to
  • Send the request in writing to Thomas McCarthy, Records Custodian, 201 W. Washington Ave., Madison, WI 53703.
  • Telephone (608) 422-7060.
  • Request the records in person at the Department of Children and Families, 201 West Washington Avenue, Madison WI  53703. Records may be requested Monday-Friday from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Receiving Records

DCF gives public records requests high priority and provides requested records as soon as practicable and without delay. A reasonable time for response to a specific public record request depends on the nature of the request, the staff and other resources available to process the request, the extent of the request, and whether confidential material contained in the responsive records must be redacted.


The fees that may be charged for responding to public records requests are set by statute. See Wis. Stat. § 19.35(3).

When the total estimated cost for locating, copying, and shipping exceeds $5.00, DCF may require pre-payment. Wis. Stat. § 19.35(3)(f).

Hard Copies

Any paper records provided by copying a paper record or printing a paper record. $0.0135 per page (black and white) or $0.0632 per page (color). In rare instances, specialized skills, equipment, or technology may result in additional copy costs.

Electronic Copies

Any electronic records provided by Email, PDF, DVD, flash drive, or other electronic format.

  • Paper to Digital: Includes scanning physical documents and saving them into a digital format for electronic distribution. Fee waived. In rare instances, specialized skills, equipment, or technology may result in additional copy costs.
  • Digital to Physical: Includes copying records already in digital format onto a physical medium for distribution. Fee is the actual cost of the physical medium used.
    • DVD (each): $0.13 (4.7 GB)
    • Flash drive (each), actual cost not to exceed: $6.49 (8 GB); $4.99 (16 GB); $8.99 (32 GB); $9.75 (64 GB); $21.49 (128 GB)
    • Other sizes or media – actual cost
  • Digital to Digital: Includes copying records from one digital format to another for distribution (e.g., email). Fee waived. In rare instances, specialized skills, equipment, or technology may result in additional copy costs.

Location Fees

May be charged only if the aggregate cost of location alone is $50.00 or more. Includes searching for and identifying responsive records; redaction may not be charged. Fee is staff time plus any Records Center records retrieval fees. Staff time is billed at the lowest possible hourly rate, which is rounded down to $20.25 per hour. In rare instances, an employee with special skills may be necessary to conduct a search and a higher hourly rate may be assessed. State Records Center records retrieval fees are based on State Records Center rates, currently $3.05 per box (subject to change).

Mailing and Shipping Costs 

Actual costs of mailing or shipping responsive records.


For further information about obtaining or viewing copies of DCF records, please call (608) 422-7060 or email