The Child Welfare Crisis
Wisconsin County Officials:

The child welfare crisis has hit counties from all across the state hard. The increasing number of referrals and out of home placements, coupled with staff burnout, has placed counties in an all too tenuous position of struggling to meet the needs of children and families, many of whom are grappling with addiction issues due to the increased use of opiates and meth in all corners of the state. Counties are working hard to meet these new demands on the system, but too many counties have already "pulled all of the rabbits out of the hat" and have no where else to access the increased financial resources needed to deal with our new norm in child welfare.

Due to the child welfare crisis, the Wisconsin Counties Association (WCA) and Wisconsin County Human Service Association (WCHSA) have identified increased funding in the Children and Family Aids allocation as their top human services budget priority for the 2019-21 state biennial budget. The ask is huge, $30 million annually, and in order to be successful, all counties need to participate in our advocacy efforts.

Throughout the budget process, from now until June 2019, counties will be asked to undertake actions to assist in our advocacy efforts. Our first set of asks is now. Between now and mid-November, we are asking all counties to take the following actions:

  1. Adopt the attached resolution seeking an annual increase in the Children and Family Aids allocation of $30 million. Please feel free to modify the resolution to include county-specific information e.g., out-of-home care cost increases, caseload ratios, etc.
  2. Invite all of your legislators to your child welfare agency and discuss with them the current child welfare crisis. This involves:

  • Having your legislators hear from your staff first hand what they are experiencing in the field.
  • Sharing with your legislators the attached PowerPoint presentation (please feel free to shorten based on what messages would best resonate with your legislative delegation). Go through the information in the PowerPoint with your legislators and explain the impacts of the crisis in your county. You can watch a webinar detailing the PowerPoint slides here:
  • Providing your legislators with a copy of the attached issue paper outlining the ask.
  • Asking your legislators to support the ask as outlined in the issue paper.

Once you have completed the meetings with your legislators, please contact Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf at the WCA office so she can keep track of which legislators have been talked to about the issue and their initial reactions. A feedback form is attached.

This information was recently sent out to county human and social services directors. However, based on the overwhelming response to the breakout session at the WCA Annual Conference on this topic we decided to share this information with a broader audience. Please coordinate with your human/social services departments to avoid duplication of effort.

Counties should feel free to contact the Wisconsin Counties Association at any time with regard to how best to approach your legislators. Additional background materials are attached for your use as well.

Questions on the materials or on the advocacy plan can be directed to Jason Witt, La Crosse County Human Services ( ; 608.785.6095) or Sarah Diedrick-Kasdorf, WCA ( ; 608.663.7188).

Thank you in advance for your advocacy on this important issue.