2017 Wisconsin Statutes & Annotations
Chapter 48. Children's code.
48.48 Authority of department.

Universal Citation: WI Stat § 48.48 (2017)

48.48 Authority of department. The department shall have authority:

(1) To promote the enforcement of the laws relating to nonmarital children, children in need of protection or services including developmentally disabled children and unborn children in need of protection or services and to take the initiative in all matters involving the interests of those children and unborn children when adequate provision for those interests is not made. This duty shall be discharged in cooperation with the courts, county departments, licensed child welfare agencies and with parents, expectant mothers and other individuals interested in the welfare of children and unborn children.

(2) To assist in extending and strengthening child welfare services with appropriate federal agencies and in conformity with the federal social security act and in cooperation with parents, other individuals and other agencies so that all children needing such services are reached.

(2b) To accept gifts, grants, or donations of money or of property from private sources to be administered by the department for the execution of its functions. All moneys so received shall be paid into the general fund and may be appropriated from that fund as provided in s. 20.437 (1) (i).

(3) To accept guardianship of children when appointed by the court, and to provide special treatment or care when directed by the court. A court may not direct the department to administer psychotropic medications to children who receive special treatment or care under this subsection.

(3m) To accept appointment by a tribal court in this state as guardian of a child for the purpose of making an adoptive placement for the child if all of the following conditions exist:

(a) The child does not have parents or a guardian or the parental rights to the child have been terminated by a tribal court in accordance with procedures that are substantially equivalent to the procedures specified in subch. VIII.

(b) The tribal court has transferred the guardianship or legal custody, or both, of the child to the department, if the child does not have parents or a guardian.

(c) The tribal court's judgment for termination of parental rights identifies the department as the agency that will receive guardianship or legal custody, or both, of the child upon termination, if the parental rights to the child have been terminated.

(d) The tribal court has signed a written contract that addresses federal and state law and that provides that the tribal court will accept the return of the legal custody or the legal custody and guardianship of the child if the department petitions the tribal court to do so under s. 48.485 (2).

(4) In order to discharge more effectively its responsibilities under this chapter and other relevant provisions of the statutes, to study causes and methods of prevention and treatment of problems among children and families and related social problems. The department may utilize all powers provided by the statutes, including the authority to accept grants of money or property from federal, state, or private sources, and enlist the cooperation of other appropriate agencies and state departments.

(8) To place children under its guardianship for adoption.

(8m) To enter into agreements with Indian tribes in this state to implement the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901 to 1963.

(8p) To reimburse tribes and county departments, from the appropriation under s. 20.437 (1) (kz), for unexpected or unusually high-cost out-of-home care placements of Indian children by tribal courts, other than placements to which s. 938.485 (4) applies, and for subsidized guardianship payments under s. 48.623 (1) or (6) for guardianships of Indian children ordered by tribal courts. In this subsection, “unusually high-cost out-of-home care placements" means the amount by which the cost to a tribe or to a county department of out-of-home care placements of Indian children by tribal courts, other than placements to which s. 938.485 (4) applies, exceeds $50,000 in a fiscal year.

(9) To license foster homes as provided in s. 48.66 (1) (a) for its own use or for the use of licensed child welfare agencies or, if requested to do so, for the use of county departments.

(9m) To license shelter care facilities as provided in s. 48.66 (1) (a).

(10) To license child welfare agencies and child care centers as provided in s. 48.66 (1) (a).

(11) When notified of the birth or expected birth of a child who is or is likely to be a nonmarital child, to see that the interests of the child are safeguarded, that steps are taken to establish the child's paternity and that there is secured for the child, if possible, the care, support and education the child would receive if he or she were a marital child.

(12)

(a) To enter into an agreement to assist in the cost of care of a child after legal adoption when the department has determined that such assistance is necessary to assure the child's adoption. Agreements under this paragraph shall be made in accordance with s. 48.975. Payments shall be made from the appropriation under s. 20.437 (1) (dd).

(b) This subsection shall be administered by the department according to criteria, standards and review procedures which it shall establish.

(13) To promulgate rules for the payment of an allowance to children in its institutions and a cash grant to a child being discharged from its institutions.

(15) To license group homes as provided in s. 48.625.

(16) To establish and enforce standards for services provided under ss. 48.345 and 48.347.

(16m) To employ under the unclassified service in an office of the department that is located in a 1st class city a director of the office of urban development who shall be appointed by the secretary to serve at the pleasure of the secretary and who shall coordinate the provision of child welfare services in a county having a population of 750,000 or more with the implementation of the Wisconsin works program under ss. 49.141 to 49.161 in a county having a population of 750,000 or more.

(17)

(a) In a county having a population of 750,000 or more, to administer child welfare services and to expend such amounts as may be necessary out of any moneys which may be appropriated for child welfare services by the legislature, which may be donated by individuals or private organizations or which may be otherwise provided. The department shall also have authority to do all of the following:

1. Investigate the conditions surrounding nonmarital children, children in need of protection or services and unborn children in need of protection or services within the county and to take every reasonable action within its power to secure for them the full benefit of all laws enacted for their benefit. Unless provided by another agency, the department shall offer social services to the caretaker of any child, and to the expectant mother of any unborn child, who is referred to the department under the conditions specified in this subdivision. This duty shall be discharged in cooperation with the court and with the public officers or boards legally responsible for the administration and enforcement of these laws.

2. Accept legal custody of children transferred to it by the court under s. 48.355, to accept supervision over expectant mothers of unborn children who are placed under its supervision under s. 48.355, and to provide special treatment or care for children and expectant mothers if ordered by the court and if providing special treatment or care is not the responsibility of the county department under s. 46.215, 51.42, or 51.437. A court may not order the department to administer psychotropic medications to children and expectant mothers who receive special treatment or care under this subdivision.

3. Provide appropriate protection and services for children and the expectant mothers of unborn children in its care, including providing services for those children and their families and for those expectant mothers in their own homes, placing the children in licensed foster homes or group homes in this state or another state within a reasonable proximity to the agency with legal custody, placing the children in the homes of guardians under s. 48.977 (2), or contracting for services for those children by licensed child welfare agencies, except that the department may not purchase the educational component of private day treatment programs unless the department, the school board, as defined in s. 115.001 (7), and the state superintendent of public instruction all determine that an appropriate public education program is not available. Disputes between the department and the school district shall be resolved by the state superintendent of public instruction.

4. Provide for the moral and religious training of children in its care according to the religious belief of the child or of his or her parents.

5. Place children in a county children's home in the county, to accept guardianship of children when appointed by the court and to place children under its guardianship for adoption.

6. Provide services to the court under s. 48.06.

7. Contract with any parent or guardian or other person for the care and maintenance of any child.

8. License foster homes in accordance with s. 48.75.

9. Use in the media a picture or description of a child in its guardianship for the purpose of finding adoptive parents for that child.

10m. Administer kinship care and long-term kinship care as provided in s. 48.57 (3m), (3n), and (3p).

11. Contract with the county department under s. 46.215, 51.42 or 51.437 or with a licensed child welfare agency to provide any of the services that the department is authorized to provide under this chapter.

(am) The requirement of statewide uniformity with respect to the organization and governance of human services does not apply to the administration of child welfare services under par. (a).

(b) In performing the functions specified in par. (a), the department may avail itself of the cooperation of any individual or private agency or organization interested in the social welfare of children and unborn children in the county.

(bm) As soon as practicable after learning that a person who is receiving child welfare services under par. (a) from the department has changed his or her county of residence, the department shall provide notice of that change to the county department of the person's new county of residence. The notice shall include a brief, written description of the services offered or provided to the person by the department and the name, telephone number, and address of a person to contact for more information.

(c) From the appropriations under s. 20.437 (1) (cx), (gx), (kw), and (mx), the department may provide funding for the maintenance of any child who meets all of the following criteria:

1. Is 18 years of age or older.

2. Is enrolled in and regularly attending a secondary education classroom program leading to a high school diploma.

3. Received funding under s. 20.437 (1) (cx) or 48.569 (1) (d) or under s. 20.435 (3) (cx), 2005 stats., or s. 46.495 (1) (d), 2005 stats., immediately prior to his or her 18th birthday.

4. Is living in a foster home, group home, or residential care center for children and youth or in a supervised independent living arrangement.

(d) The funding provided for the maintenance of a child under par. (c) shall be in an amount equal to that which the child would receive under s. 20.437 (1) (cx), (gx), (kw), and (mx) or 48.569 (1) (d) if the child were 17 years of age.

(18) To contract with public or voluntary agencies or others for the following purposes:

(a) To purchase in full or in part care and services that the department is authorized by any statute to provide as an alternative to providing that care and those services itself.

(b) To purchase or provide in full or in part the care and services that county agencies may provide or purchase under any statute and to sell to county agencies such portions of that care and those services as the county agency may desire to purchase.

(d) To sell services, under contract, that the department is authorized to provide by statute, to any federally recognized tribal governing body.

(19) To purchase or provide treatment and services for children who are the victims of trafficking, as defined in s. 940.302 (1) (d), for purposes of a commercial sex act, as defined in s. 940.302 (1) (a). Within the availability of funding under s. 20.437 (1) (e), the department shall ensure that that treatment and those services are available to children in all geographic areas of the state, including both urban and rural communities.

History: 1973 c. 90, 333; 1977 c. 29; 1977 c. 83 s. 26; 1977 c. 354, 418, 447, 449; 1979 c. 34 ss. 833m, 834, 2102 (20) (a); 1979 c. 221, 300; 1983 a. 27 s. 2202 (20); 1983 a. 189 s. 329 (17); 1983 a. 447; 1985 a. 135, 176; 1985 a. 332 s. 251 (3); 1987 a. 339; 1989 a. 31, 107, 359; 1991 a. 316; 1993 a. 16, 375, 385, 446, 491; 1995 a. 27 ss. 2526 to 2534m, 9126 (19), 9145 (1); 1995 a. 77; 1997 a. 27, 35, 80, 105, 292; 1999 a. 9; 2001 a. 38, 59, 69; 2005 a. 25, 293; 2007 a. 20; 2009 a. 28, 71, 94, 180, 185; 2011 a. 258; 2013 a. 20; 2013 a. 165 s. 115; 2013 a. 334; 2015 a. 55.

An allegation that the department failed to adopt rules or to exercise supervision over a local social service agency and that those failures led to a deprivation of child custody without due process stated a cause of action for deprivation of civil rights. Roe v. Borup, 500 F. Supp. 127 (1980).

The state has ultimate foster care responsibility, and dismissal of a 42 USC 1983 action against the state for civil rights violations by a county agency was not appropriate. Jeanine B. by Blondin v. Thompson, 877 F. Supp. 1268 (1995).

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