New Bills Proposed to Improve Wisconsin Foster Care

Progress is being made by a task force created by Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos in June. The goal is to boost the foster care system in Wisconsin and provide additional support for children, parents, and social workers. The panel was co-chaired by Republican Representative Patrick Snyder and Democratic Representative Steve Doyle. A news conference Tuesday revealed the completion of drafts for 13 bills.

The proposals would give an additional $170,000 for court-appointed volunteers to observe children with their families. They would allocate $500,000 of federal funds for counties, nonprofits, and tribes to encourage innovative practices to prevent children from being removed from their homes to begin with. They would alleviate some pressure from foster parents by allowing them access to a certain amount of a child’s mental health records, improving foster parent education, and reimbursing foster parents for care-related expenses. Under the proposals, children in foster care will receive free tuition in the University of Wisconsin System and the Wisconsin Technical College System.

Six public meetings were held over the last several months so the task force could hear from those most affected. Overall, the package will cost the state $4 million. The bills will move to the floor in January.