Children & the Law Section Blog | Children & the Law Section

This blog discusses information of interest to attorneys who represent various parties, including children, parents, and grandparents, as well as agencies that serve children. Published by the State Bar of Wisconsin’s Children & the Law Section, articles include those on changes in the statutes, important appellate and Supreme Court decisions, and family law, juvenile delinquency and child welfare proceedings.

Section members include judges, court commissioners, prosecutors, guardians ad litem, agency attorneys, and private practice attorneys. The practice areas of the section members include family, juvenile delinquency and child welfare proceedings. The section has an email list, monitors and proposes legislation, produces CLE programs, and publishes a newsletter.

Members of the State Bar of Wisconsin may join the section by visiting (login required).

Section website:

As it stands, Wisconsin has no training requirements for those who volunteer and are appointed as a guardian, but a bill currently before the Wisconsin Legislature may change that.

Senate Bill 92 proposes a list of requirements and training that a potential guardian must go through before taking guardianship.

Over time, it has become clear that some guardians can lack the adequate knowledge and or resources necessary for effectively carrying out their role. It is of vital importance to
Continue Reading The Proposed Guardian Training Requirement: Consequences for Petitioners

On April 6, 2021, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals issued its
decision in
Brackeen v. Haaland
, an appeal from the District Court for the Northern District of Texas. The case challenged the constitutionality of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) and the validity of regulations promulgated by the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).This article provides an overview of ICWA, the constitutional challenges presented in
Brackeen, a summary of the Fifth Circuit’s decision, and the decision’s practical implications.Background:
Continue Reading Fifth Circuit: Indian Child Welfare Act Is Constitutional

A 2018 case studyconducted by the American Bar Association’s Center on Children reported that there are 70 million children under the age of 18.1 Within this total, about 18.2 million children under the age of 18 live with at least one immigrant parent. Most of these children already live in family units with members who are U.S. Citizens, Lawful Permanent Residents, have some other lawful status, or do not have lawful status altogether.

Because of the huge number
Continue Reading On the Bias Against Immigrant Caregivers in the Child Welfare System

The Family First Prevention Services Act (FFPSA), signed into law in 2018, is a drastic overhaul of the current child welfare system.

FFPSA was part of the Bipartisan Budget Act allowing states to use federal funding to help keep families together and avoid out of home foster care placement entirely. Specifically, the legislation changes the way that Title IV-E funds can be spent by states, by allowing funds to be used for prevention services that help keep children
Continue Reading Foster Care: 15 Months Not Often Enough for Family Reunification

In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice, there is.
This is a quotation attributed to famous New York Yankee catcher and renowned wordsmith Yogi Berra.

New lawyers quickly become familiar with the truth of this quote – while the law as written may paint one picture of how a case might proceed in court, the practice between different states, different counties, and even different courtrooms in the same courthouse can differ drastically.

The difference
Continue Reading Judicial Engagement Teams Make a Difference in Child Welfare Cases

In 1995, the Wisconsin Legislature undertook a significant change and developed the Juvenile Justice Code under Wis. Stat. chapter 938. In doing so, it determined that there should still be a mechanism – a reverse waiver proceeding – to return youth to the juvenile justice system, including for the most serious of offenses.

Wis. Stat. section 938.183 provides for five separate categories in which a child is to be treated automatically as an adult. These include children accused of
Continue Reading A More Child-centric Decision: Start in Juvenile Court

As a circuit court judge in the Dane County juvenile division for the last five years, Judge Everett Mitchell has seen many children come through his courtroom as victims of abuse and neglect, as juveniles accused of delinquency, and later as adults accused of a crime.

Now, as the presiding judge of the juvenile division, he wants to address systemic issues he witnesses, including the “child welfare to juvenile delinquency to adult prison pipeline,” as he calls it.
Continue Reading Countering the Child Welfare to Juvenile Delinquency to Adult Prison Pipeline

The same growing body of research cited by Justice Anthony Kennedy in Roper v. Simmons – the U.S. Supreme Court decision banning the death penalty for young people under 18 – is inspiring juvenile law practitioners, youth advocates, and local courts to take a closer look at emerging adults – those ranging in age from 17 to 24.

In September 2020, the Juvenile Law Center released a report, Rethinking Justice for Emerging Adults: Spotlight on the Great Lakes Region
Continue Reading ‘Raise the Age’ in Wisconsin: Brown County Initiates Young Adult Specialty Court

On Feb. 5, 2020, 2019 Wisconsin Act 92 was signed into law. It made two simple, but noteworthy, changes to the eligibility requirements for adoptive parents applying for adoption assistance.

The first change reduces the minimum age of a child from 10 years of age to 7 years of age if age is the only factor used in determining eligibility for adoption assistance. The second change reduces the size of a group of siblings that must be placed together
Continue Reading Adoption Assistance under 2019 Wisconsin Act 92

On April 6, 2018, the Wisconsin Legislature revised the involuntary ground for termination of parental rights based on continuing need of protection or services (continuing CHIPS).

The new Wis. Stat. section 48.415(2) modified the fourth element of the ground. Specifically, if a child had been in foster care for 15 of the most recent 22 months, the petitioner is no longer required to prove that there was a substantial likelihood that the parent would not meet the conditions of
Continue Reading On the Continuing CHIPS Ground: The Current State of the Law

Interested in advocating for racial justice for youth? Want to challenge indiscriminate shackling? Wondering how to serve dual status youth? Want to figure out ways that defense attorneys and prosecutors may work together on behalf of our youth?
The National Juvenile Defender Center (NJDC) is there as a resource.
About the National Juvenile Defender Center
The National Juvenile Defender Center, according to its website, “is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting justice for all children by ensuring excellence in
Continue Reading The National Juvenile Defender Center: A Resource for Attorneys Advocating for Youth

Technology benefits the world in thousands of ways. It provides a means of connection and communication, allows us to find answers to nearly any question, gives us the ability to work remotely and stay up-to-date with every current event in the news and with our friends and family.
Social media offers different platforms that children of all ages can use and even earn money from. One 7 year old made over $22 million in 2018 by reviewing toys on
Continue Reading Child Exploitation in the Digital Age

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are traumatic events that occur in a person’s childhood.
These events include:

  • experiencing violence, abuse, or neglect;
  • witnessing violence in their home or community; or
  • having a family member attempt or die by suicide.1

Also included are aspects of a child’s environment that may undermine their sense of safety and stability, such as growing up in household with substance abuse, with a family member
Continue Reading Assessing the Impact of Childhood Trauma

Previously in this blog, Beth Lauck wrote the first part of a two-part series on the substantive changes in Wisconsin’s new guardianship law, effective Aug. 1, 2020.
As she detailed, there are four new guardianship types, each with different legal burdens, different transferred duties, and differences in whether the guardianship is until age 18, or some other timeline.

Courtney L.A. Roelandts, Marquette 2018, is a staff attorney in the Guardian ad Litem Division of the Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee
Continue Reading Preparing for Chapter 48’s New Private Minor Guardianships

On Feb. 28, 2020, Governor Tony Evers signed AB 47 – now
2019 Wisconsin Act 109 – into law, which moves private guardianships of the child from chapter 54 to chapter 48, the Children’s Code, and expands the types of private minor guardianships available to better meet the needs of children and families.
The new law takes effect Aug. 1, 2020. The Children and the Law Section legislation committee helped draft the legislation and the section supported the bipartisan
Continue Reading Chapter 48: The New Private Minor Guardianship Law

April is National Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Month, which urges communities to work together to prevent child abuse and neglect and to promote the social and emotional well-being of children and families.
However, due to the circumstances caused by COVID-19, many experts fear that child abuse will increase, despite seeing a decrease in reports during the month of March.
On March 12, Gov. Tony Evers issued an executive order declaring a public health emergency due to the
Continue Reading ‘Safer at Home?’ Experts Fear Increase in Child Abuse