2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.236 Court-appointed special advocate.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.236 (2017)

48.236 Court-appointed special advocate.

(1)Designation. In any proceeding under s. 48.13 in which the court finds that providing the services of a court-appointed special advocate would be in the best interests of the child, the court may request a court-appointed special advocate program to designate a person who meets the qualifications specified in sub. (2) as a court-appointed special advocate to undertake the activities specified in sub. (3). A court-appointed special advocate does not become a party to the proceeding and, as a nonparty, may not make motions or call or cross-examine witnesses. A designation under this subsection terminates when the jurisdiction of the court over the child under s. 48.13 terminates, unless the court discharges the court-appointed special advocate sooner.

(2)Qualifications. A court-appointed special advocate shall be a volunteer or employee of a court-appointed special advocate program who has been selected and trained as provided in the memorandum of understanding entered into under s. 48.07 (5) (a). No person who is a party in a proceeding, who appears as counsel or guardian ad litem in a proceeding on behalf of any party or who is a relative or representative of a party in a proceeding may be designated as a court-appointed special advocate in that proceeding.

(3)Activities. A court-appointed special advocate may be designated under sub. (1) to perform any of the following activities:

(a) Gather information and make observations about the child for whom the designation is made, the child's family and any other person residing in the same home as the child and provide that information and those observations to the court in the form of written reports or, if requested by the court, oral testimony.

(b) Maintain regular contact with the child for whom the designation is made; monitor the appropriateness and safety of the environment of the child, the extent to which the child and the child's family are complying with any consent decree or dispositional order of the court and with any permanency plan under s. 48.38, and the extent to which any agency that is required to provide services for the child and the child's family under a consent decree, dispositional order or permanency plan is providing those services; and, based on that regular contact and monitoring, provide information to the court in the form of written reports or, if requested by the court, oral testimony.

(c) Promote the best interests of the child.

(d) Undertake any other activities that are consistent with the memorandum of understanding entered into under s. 48.07 (5) (a).

(4)Authority. A court that requests a court-appointed special advocate program to designate a court-appointed special advocate to undertake the activities specified in sub. (3) may include in the order requesting that designation an order authorizing the court-appointed special advocate to do any of the following:

(a) Inspect any reports and records relating to the child who is the subject of the proceeding, the child's family, and any other person residing in the same home as the child that are relevant to the subject matter of the proceeding, including records discoverable under s. 48.293, examination reports under s. 48.295 (2), law enforcement reports and records under ss. 48.396 (1) and 938.396 (1) (a), court records under ss. 48.396 (2) (a) and 938.396 (2), social welfare agency records under ss. 48.78 (2) (a) and 938.78 (2) (a), abuse and neglect reports and records under s. 48.981 (7) (a) 11r., and pupil records under s. 118.125 (2) (L). The order shall also require the custodian of any report or record specified in this paragraph to permit the court-appointed special advocate to inspect the report or record on presentation by the court-appointed special advocate of a copy of the order. A court-appointed special advocate that obtains access to a report or record described in this paragraph shall keep the information contained in the report or record confidential and may disclose that information only to the court. If a court-appointed special advocate discloses any information to the court under this paragraph, the court-appointed special advocate shall also disclose that information to all parties to the proceeding. If a court-appointed special advocate discloses information in violation of the confidentiality requirement specified in this paragraph, the court-appointed special advocate is liable to any person damaged as a result of that disclosure for such damages as may be proved and, notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1), for such costs and reasonable actual attorney fees as may be incurred by the person damaged.

(b) Observe the child who is the subject of the proceeding and the child's living environment and, if the child is old enough to communicate, interview the child; interview the parent, guardian, legal custodian or other caregiver of the child who is the subject of the proceeding and observe that person's living environment; and interview any other person who might possess any information relating to the child and the child's family that is relevant to the subject of the proceeding. A court-appointed special advocate may observe or interview the child at any location without the permission of the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other caregiver if necessary to obtain any information that is relevant to the subject of the proceeding, except that a court-appointed special advocate may enter a child's home only with the permission of the child's parent, guardian, legal custodian or other caregiver or after obtaining a court order permitting the court-appointed special advocate to do so. A court-appointed special advocate who obtains any information under this paragraph shall keep the information confidential and may disclose that information only to the court. If a court-appointed special advocate discloses any information to the court under this paragraph, the court-appointed special advocate shall also disclose that information to all parties to the proceeding. If a court-appointed special advocate discloses information in violation of the confidentiality requirement specified in this paragraph, the court-appointed special advocate is liable to any person damaged as a result of that disclosure for such damages as may be proved and, notwithstanding s. 814.04 (1), for such costs and reasonable actual attorney fees as may be incurred by the person damaged.

(c) Exercise any other authority that is consistent with the memorandum of understanding entered into under s. 48.07 (5) (a).

(5)Immunity from liability. A volunteer court-appointed special advocate designated under sub. (1) or an employee of a court-appointed special advocate program recognized under s. 48.07 (5) is immune from civil liability for any act or omission of the volunteer or employee occurring while acting within the scope of his or her activities and authority as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate or employee of a court-appointed special advocate program.

History: 1999 a. 149; 2005 a. 344.

Disclaimer: These codes may not be the most recent version. Wisconsin may have more current or accurate information. We make no warranties or guarantees about the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy of the information contained on this site or the information linked to on the state site. Please check official sources.