Wisconsin Department of Children and Families

Protecting Children, Strengthening Families, Building Communities



Youth Justice in Wisconsin

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is the state agency responsible for fiscal and programmatic oversight for the Youth Aids allocation and the community-based youth justice system. No matter which system “door” a youth enters, DCF strives to support a coordinated and comprehensive response to provide the support needed to fulfill its youth-driven vision that “all youth have the tools to thrive in adulthood.”

The primary responsibilities, of DCF, with respect to administration of the Youth Aids allocation are described in Wisconsin Statute Chapter 48.526. The general authority, of DCF, with respect to the community-based youth justice system is described in Wisconsin Statute Chapter 938.485

Youth Aids

In January 2016 (as directed in the 2015-17 biennial budget), administrative oversight and responsibility for the community-based youth justice system transferred from the Department of Corrections (DOC) to Department of Children and Families (DCF). DCF is now the state supervisor of the county’s work in youth justice. For more, see Youth Aids Transfer Effective January 1, 2016.

From January 1, 2016 through the early fall of 2016, DCF has dedicated itself to gathering information and meeting with other youth justice system partners and agencies to deepen its understanding of how youth in the community based youth justice system are served throughout the state.

DCF has begun the next phase of the strategic planning process: developing a summary of the input gathered, and forming workgroups to provide options in the areas of most pressing need, as identified by the information gathering process. The goal is an inclusive, transparent process to begin working on the statutorily required practice standardization and to address training, finance, data, and other needs.

Secretary’s Advisory Council on Youth Justice

In April 2016, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) established the Secretary’s Advisory Council on Youth Justice. The Council is comprised of key youth justice leaders from:

  • state agencies
  • county-based justice system stakeholders
  • prevention service providers
  • affected youth and families

Together these leaders and community members provide advice to DCF on matters related to supporting a stronger community-based youth justice system. Council members are appointed by and serve at the pleasure of the Secretary of the Department of Children and Families.

Youth Leadership Teams

The Department of Children and Families (DCF) is launching four Youth Leadership Teams covering the entire state. The purpose of this effort is to involve young people in the youth justice decision making process and to empower the next generation of young leaders. The Youth Application is available online and interested youth may apply at any time.

Additional information:

  • Youth Information, as we move into our second year, provides:
    • More background about the Youth Leadership Teams
    • How to be involved
    • Dates and times of future meetings
  • The Youth flyer for youth, explains what the Youth Leadership Teams are, what they do, and how to apply. 
  • Team Areas maps show the areas and counties each team covers.


Youth Leadership Team First Year Annual Report (2016-2017) reviews the first year of the teams. It includes the projects completed. The report recognizes the many county and community partners who supported the Youth Leadership Teams. Together, they made it a great first year!

The Youth Vision for the Youth Justice System Report summarizes the perspectives of all four youth leadership teams on the current status of the youth justice system and their vision for the future

Community Intervention Program (CIP)

CIP funds are distributed annually to county agencies for:

  • Early intervention services for first-time juvenile offenders
  • Intensive community-based intervention services for seriously chronic juvenile offenders

In order to be eligible to receive CIP funds, a county must submit a plan to DCF ensuring the county targets the funding to appropriate programs. Explanation of Allocation Formula Factors explains the CIP formula as defined in Wisconsin Statute section 48.528(3).

State Fiscal Year 2018 (SFY18) Documents

Plan and Budget for SFY18

Early Intervention (EI)

Early Intervention program funds are distributed annually. Early Intervention programs target juveniles who are at risk of committing delinquent acts or are juveniles who have committed a minor offense and are at risk of further delinquent behavior.

Youth Justice Issue Briefs: First Issue Brief Released on Accountability informs counties and tribes of the release of the first Youth Justice Issue Brief.  There will be subsequent briefs on topics relevant to youth justice practice across the state.

Youth Leadership Teams – Second Year provides information to the counties and tribes about the second year of the Youth Leadership Teams.

Youth Innovation Grants: Early Intervention CY 2017-18 Recipients May Apply informs counties of a new opportunity to pursue innovative youth justice projects at the local level.

Summary of Input Gathered about the Youth Justice System provides a summary of the input gathered from stakeholders across the state about the current status of the community-based juvenile justice system (youth justice system or YJ), and the vision for the future of the system.

Early Intervention CY 2017-18: Eligibility, Allocations, and Application for Funding

Community Intervention Program (CIP) SFY 17: Application for Funding

  • Provides notification of the availability of state fiscal year 2017 funds for the Community Intervention Program
  • Explains the criteria for receiving these funds

Youth Aids Transfer Effective January 1, 2016 outlines the division of responsibility between the Department of Children and Families (DCF) and the Department of Corrections (DOC) after the transfer of Youth Aids and:

  • Explains how contracts will be handled
  • Lists the relevant administrative rules and how they are divided between DOC and DCF
  • Summarizes how juvenile court intake worker training will operate
  • Summarizes long term planning efforts
  • Provides contacts at DCF and DOC
  • Has a funding visual as an attachment


The Youth Justice Vision and Strategic Plan highlights the role the Department of Children and Families (DCF) plans to play in the coming year to move forward towards the vision for the youth justice system: that it focuses on prevention and diversion, and provides accountability and services to youth and families in the system that prepares them to thrive.

Youth Justice System Summary of Input Gathered The DCF overview of the input gathering process, as well as a high-level summary of the input gathered. This includes both the stakeholder’s views of the current system and a vision for the future of the Youth Justice (YJ) system, based on the input gathered.

Youth Justice System Summary of Responses to Online Survey A summary created by the University of Wisconsin School of Social Work for DCF of the responses to the online survey.

Juvenile Court Intake Worker Training - Wisconsin Child Welfare Professional Development System (WCWPDS)

Juvenile Court Intake Worker Training Sessions provides:

  • A detailed explanation of the juvenile court intake worker training requirements
  • Information about scheduled training sessions through the middle of 2017
  • An updated version of the “Notification of Employment or Assignments of Juvenile Court Intake Worker” form

The Bureau of Youth Services will be provide Youth Justice Issue Briefs on topics relevant to youth justice practice across the state. These briefs will include elements related to the specific topic area of the issue.

Youth Justice Issue Brief – Accountability (#1) provides background, research, and program descriptions related to accountability in the youth justice system. This includes:

  • A summary of the Balanced and Restorative Justice approach set forth by the federal Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention and incorporated into Wisconsin statute
  • A spotlight on programs in Waushara and Manitowoc counties
  • Research explaining key elements of effective approaches to accountability

Wisconsin Juvenile Justice Network - The mission is to promote, support, and advance effective practices in working with youth and their families who are in or at risk of involvement in the youth justice system. WJJN strives to accomplish this mission by advancing evidence-based practices and policies, establishing guiding principles, sharing information and resources, and promoting a fair and effective youth justice system in the State of Wisconsin.

Juvenile Justice Information Exchange (JJIE) - This is the only publication covering youth justice and related issues nationally on a consistent, daily basis. JJIE was launched in September 2010 as an initiative of the Center for Sustainable Journalism, a non-profit organization dedicated to the longevity of quality, ethically-sound journalism. The JJIE covers a wide breadth of youth justice issues and news.

Director, Bureau of Youth Services, (608) 422-6989

Section Manager, Bureau of Youth Services, (608) 422-6993

Youth Justice Policy Coordinator, Bureau of Youth Services, (608) 422-6897

Youth Justice Policy Coordinator, Bureau of Youth Services, (608) 422-6899