Foster families, like other families, are also subject to the statutory requirements of the Wisconsin Statutes, Children's Code, Chapter 48. Any allegation or complaint of physical abuse or injury, lack of supervision, failure to provide (neglect), emotional mistreatment or sexual abuse or exploitation must, by law, be referred for investigation within 24 hours.
Since foster parents have a close working relationship with Winnebago County Department of Social Services, the investigation is done by an outside, independent agency and the written report is provided to our Department. Generally the Department works another County's Department of Social Services or Department of Human Services to obtain these required investigations. This might be Outagamie County Human Services, Brown County Human Services or Green Lake County Human Services.
Most commonly complaints about child maltreatment are received by Winnebago County's Department of Human Services' Access Unit. In cases involving a child in a foster home, an Access worker would assess the immediate danger of the child in question and determine the appropriate course of action in consultation with the Access Unit supervisor.
Any allegation of maltreatment to a child residing in a foster home is concerning to everyone involved, but the Department's primary objective is to ensure that the child is not in danger and safety concerns for the child are addressed. It is important to keep in mind that an investigation is completed to determine if there is merit to the allegation. Until the investigation is complete, the report is treated an an allegation.
To read more about the agency's actions when an allegation is made, the following documents can be referred to: