To assure that children pending adoptive homes will be placed in the best homes available and protected from adoption by persons unfit to have responsibility for raising children.
To promote the adoption of children into safe and stable families rather than allowing children to remain in the impermanence of foster care.
To allow for the termination of parental rights at the earliest possible time after rehabilitation and reunification efforts are discontinued in accordance with this chapter and termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.
To reaffirm that the duty of a parent to support and maintain his or her child continues during any period in which the child may be removed from the custody of the parent.
To provide a just and humane program of services to nonmarital children, children and unborn children in need of protection or services, and the expectant mothers of those unborn children; to avoid duplication and waste of effort and money on the part of public and private agencies; and to coordinate and integrate a program of services to children and families.
In Indian child custody proceedings, the best interests of the Indian child shall be determined in accordance with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, and the policy specified in this subsection. It is the policy of this state for courts and agencies responsible for child welfare to do all of the following:
Cooperate fully with Indian tribes in order to ensure that the federal Indian Child Welfare Act is enforced in this state.
Protect the best interests of Indian children and promote the stability and security of Indian tribes and families by doing all of the following:
Establishing minimum standards for the removal of Indian children from their families and placing those children in out-of-home care placements, preadoptive placements, or adoptive placements that will reflect the unique value of Indian culture.
Using practices, in accordance with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, this section, and other applicable law, that are designed to prevent the voluntary or involuntary out-of-home care placement of Indian children and, when an out-of-home care placement, adoptive placement, or preadoptive placement is necessary, placing an Indian child in a placement that reflects the unique values of the Indian child's tribal culture and that is best able to assist the Indian child in establishing, developing, and maintaining a political, cultural, and social relationship with the Indian child's tribe and tribal community.
The “paramount consideration" of the child's best interest does not mandate that the child's interests will always outweigh the public's. In Interest of B.B., 166 Wis. 2d 202
, 479 N.W.2d 205
(Ct. App. 1991).
Jurisdictional questions relating to the Indian child welfare act are discussed. 70 Atty. Gen. 237.
Adoption and termination proceedings in Wisconsin: Straining the wisdom of Solomon. Hayes & Morse. 66 MLR 439 (1983).
The Indian child welfare act-tribal self-determination through participation in child custody proceedings. 1979 WLR 1202.
Family Court or Not? Raising Child Abuse Allegations Against a Parent. Kornblum & Pollack. Wis. Law. Mar. 2020.
In this chapter, unless otherwise defined:
“Abuse," other than when used in referring to abuse of alcohol beverages or other drugs, means any of the following:
Physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means.
When used in referring to an unborn child, serious physical harm inflicted on the unborn child, and the risk of serious physical harm to the child when born, caused by the habitual lack of self-control of the expectant mother of the unborn child in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree.
With a child physically present during the manufacture.
In a child's home, on the premises of a child's home, or in a motor vehicle located on the premises of a child's home.
Under any other circumstances in which a reasonable person should have known that the manufacture would be seen, smelled, or heard by a child.
Emotional damage for which the child's parent, guardian or legal custodian has neglected, refused or been unable for reasons other than poverty to obtain the necessary treatment or to take steps to ameliorate the symptoms.
“Adult" means a person who is 18 years of age or older, except that for purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated any state or federal criminal law or any civil law or municipal ordinance, “adult" means a person who has attained 17 years of age.
“Age or developmentally appropriate activities" means activities that are generally accepted as suitable for children of a given chronological age or level of maturity or that are determined to be developmentally appropriate for a child based on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities that are typical for children of a given age or age group or, in the case of a specific child, activities that are suitable for the child based on the cognitive, emotional, physical, and behavioral capacities of that child.
“Alcohol and other drug abuse impairment" means a condition of a person which is exhibited by characteristics of habitual lack of self-control in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs to the extent that the person's health is substantially affected or endangered or the person's social or economic functioning is substantially disrupted.
“Child," when used without further qualification, means a person who is less than 18 years of age, except that for purposes of investigating or prosecuting a person who is alleged to have violated a state or federal criminal law or any civil law or municipal ordinance, “child" does not include a person who has attained 17 years of age.
“County department" means a county department under s. 46.22
, unless the context requires otherwise.
“Court," when used without further qualification, means the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 938
“Court intake worker" means any person designated to provide intake services under s. 48.067
“Dental care,” for purposes of providing ordinary medical and dental care, means routine dental care, including diagnostic and preventative services, and treatment including restoring teeth, tooth extractions, and use of nitrous oxide.
“Department" means the department of children and families.
“Developmentally disabled" means having a developmental disability, as defined in s. 51.01 (5)
“Emotional damage" means harm to a child's psychological or intellectual functioning. “Emotional damage" shall be evidenced by one or more of the following characteristics exhibited to a severe degree: anxiety; depression; withdrawal; outward aggressive behavior; or a substantial and observable change in behavior, emotional response or cognition that is not within the normal range for the child's age and stage of development.
“Foreign jurisdiction" means a jurisdiction outside of the United States.
“Foster home" means any facility that is operated by a person required to be licensed by s. 48.62 (1)
and that provides care and maintenance for no more than 4 children or, if necessary to enable a sibling group to remain together, for no more than 6 children or, if the department promulgates rules permitting a different number of children, for the number of children permitted under those rules.
“Group home" means any facility operated by a person required to be licensed by the department under s. 48.625
for the care and maintenance of 5 to 8 children, as provided in s. 48.625 (1)
“Guardian" means the person named by the court having the duty and authority of guardianship.
“Indian" means any person who is a member of an Indian tribe or who is an Alaska native and a member of a regional corporation, as defined in 43 USC 1606
“Indian child" means any unmarried person who is under the age of 18 years and is affiliated with an Indian tribe in any of the following ways:
As a person who is eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.
“Indian child's tribe" means one of the following:
The Indian tribe in which an Indian child is a member or eligible for membership.
In the case of an Indian child who is a member of or eligible for membership in more than one tribe, the Indian tribe with which the Indian child has the more significant contacts.
“Indian custodian" means an Indian person who has legal custody of an Indian child under tribal law or custom or under state law or to whom temporary physical care, custody, and control has been transferred by the parent of the child.
“Indian tribe" means any Indian tribe, band, nation, or other organized group or community of Indians that is recognized as eligible for the services provided to Indians by the U.S. secretary of the interior because of Indian status, including any Alaska native village, as defined in 43 USC 1602
“Judge", if used without further qualification, means the judge of the court assigned to exercise jurisdiction under this chapter and ch. 938
“Juvenile detention facility" means a locked facility approved by the department of corrections under s. 301.36
for the secure, temporary holding in custody of children.
“Legal custodian" means a person, other than a parent or guardian, or an agency to whom legal custody of the child has been transferred by a court, but does not include a person who has only physical custody of the child.
“Legal custody" means a legal status created by the order of a court, which confers the right and duty to protect, train and discipline the child, and to provide food, shelter, legal services, education and ordinary medical and dental care, subject to the rights, duties and responsibilities of the guardian of the child and subject to any residual parental rights and responsibilities and the provisions of any court order.
“Neglect" means failure, refusal or inability on the part of a caregiver, for reasons other than poverty, to provide necessary care, food, clothing, medical or dental care or shelter so as to seriously endanger the physical health of the child.
“Nonidentifying social history information" means information about a person's birth parent that may aid the person in establishing a sense of identity. “Nonidentifying social history information" may include, but is not limited to, the following information about a birth parent, but does not include any information that would disclose the name, location or identity of a birth parent:
Reason for placing the child for adoption or for the termination of parental rights.
“Out-of-home care provider" means a foster parent, guardian, relative other than a parent, or nonrelative in whose home a child is placed, or the operator of a group home, residential care center for children and youth, or shelter care facility in which a child is placed, under the placement and care responsibility of the department or a county department. “Out-of-home care provider" also includes, in the case of a child placed in a group home, residential care center for children and youth, or shelter care facility, a staff member employed on the site of that home, center, or facility who has been designated by the operator of that home, center, or facility as an out-of-home care provider for purposes of making decisions concerning the child's participation in age or developmentally appropriate activities.
“Parent" means a biological parent, a husband who has consented to the artificial insemination of his wife under s. 891.40
, or a parent by adoption. If the child is a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803
, “parent" includes a person conclusively determined from genetic test results to be the father under s. 767.804
or a person acknowledged under s. 767.805
or a substantially similar law of another state or adjudicated to be the biological father. “Parent" does not include any person whose parental rights have been terminated. For purposes of the application of s. 48.028
and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, “parent" means a biological parent, an Indian husband who has consented to the artificial insemination of his wife under s. 891.40
, or an Indian person who has lawfully adopted an Indian child, including an adoption under tribal law or custom, and includes, in the case of a nonmarital child who is not adopted or whose parents do not subsequently intermarry under s. 767.803
, a person conclusively determined from genetic test results to be the father under s. 767.804
, a person acknowledged under s. 767.805
, a substantially similar law of another state, or tribal law or custom to be the biological father, or a person adjudicated to be the biological father, but does not include any person whose parental rights have been terminated.
“Physical custody" means actual custody of the person in the absence of a court order granting legal custody to the physical custodian.
“Physical injury" includes but is not limited to lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm, as defined in s. 939.22 (14)
“Qualifying residential family-based treatment facility” means a certified residential family-based alcohol or drug abuse treatment facility that meets all of the following criteria:
The treatment facility provides, as part of the treatment for substance abuse, parenting skills training, parent education, and individual and family counseling.
The substance abuse treatment, parenting skills training, parent education, and individual and family counseling is provided under an organizational structure and treatment framework that involves understanding, recognizing, and responding to the effects of all types of trauma and in accordance with recognized principles of a trauma-informed approach and trauma-specific interventions to address the consequences of trauma and facilitate healing.
“Reasonable and prudent parent standard" means a standard for an out-of-home care provider to use in making decisions concerning a child's participation in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities that is characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, best interests, and cultural, religious, and tribal values of the child while at the same time encouraging the emotional and developmental growth of the child.
“Relative" means a parent, stepparent, brother, sister, stepbrother, stepsister, half brother, half sister, brother-in-law, sister-in-law, first cousin, 2nd cousin, nephew, niece, uncle, aunt, stepuncle, stepaunt, or any person of a preceding generation as denoted by the prefix of grand, great, or great-great, whether by blood, marriage, or legal adoption, or the spouse of any person named in this subsection, even if the marriage is terminated by death or divorce. For purposes of the application of s. 48.028
and the federal Indian Child Welfare Act, 25 USC 1901
, “relative" includes an extended family member, as defined in s. 48.028 (2) (am)
, whether by blood, marriage, or adoption, including adoption under tribal law or custom. For purposes of placement of a child, “relative" also includes a parent of a sibling of the child who has legal custody of that sibling.