Child Abuse & Child Welfare

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Access Services

Why Report

By contacting the Fond du Lac County Access Unit, your call:

  • Could save a child's life
  • Could prevent further abuse or neglect
  • May allow families to receive resources or services, which they may desperately need
  • Makes a valuable contribution to the protection of children and the prevention of abuse

What if I am not sure if I should report?

Please report! It is the responsibility of the Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services Access Unit staff to make decisions about whether or not a report meets the requirements for a screen in. We cannot protect children unless their situations are brought to our attention.

Definitions

What Is Child Abuse?

Child Abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child by a parent, family member, other caregiver, or non-caregiver.

EMOTIONAL ABUSE: is defined as 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.

PHYSICAL ABUSE: is the physical injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means. Physical injury includes but is not limited to lacerations, fractured bones, burns, internal injuries, severe or frequent bruising or great bodily harm as defined under Wisconsin statute s.939.22(14).

CHILD NEGLECT: is the failure, refusal or inability on the part of the parent, guardian, legal custodian or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over a child, 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.

SEXUAL ABUSE: Sexual Abuse is defined as acts of sexual assault on and/or the sexual exploitation of minors.

Making a Report

If you believe that a child, age 0-17 years, has been abused or neglected or is at risk, you should report your concerns to the Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services immediately 920-929-3400 or 920-929-3202.

What to Expect:

When making a call to report suspected child abuse or neglect you will speak to one of our phone intake workers. They will listen to your concerns and information. The phone intake worker will move through an established abuse/neglect report document that guides the discussion to also cover areas such as child and parenting functioning.  It is understood you may or may not have additional information regarding the family and you will be asked to provide only what you know.  You will not be required to do anything more following your call.

Information You Will Be Asked When Reporting Child Abuse and Neglect

  • Identifying Information (i.e. Name(s), Address(s), Phone Number, Race(s), etc.)
  • American Indian Heritage
  • Describe Alleged Maltreatment - Current and Past
  • Describe Injury or Condition as a Result of Maltreatment
  • Child(s) Current Location (i.e. school, etc.)
  • Child Functioning (i.e. special needs)
  • History of Domestic Violence
  • Parents Location (i.e. place of employment)

*Please be aware that all of the above information is not necessary to report abuse and neglect. The questions above are simply a guide to help prepare you for what will be asked. Even if you do not know all of the answers, please do not hesitate to report.

What will happen when I report child protection concerns?

A Social Worker will write up your report. They will need to know the names, ages, and addresses of family members, as well as information about the suspected abuse or neglect. A supervisor will review the report and decide if the situation's seriousness is sufficient to merit assessment.  Recently an additional pathway for case assignment has become available in Fond du Lac County called Alternative Response.  Alternative Response allows the worker to partner with the parents by contacting them first whenever possible versus making initial contact with children without parental knowledge.  Secondly, the Alternative Response pathway does not require the social worker to make a determination about whether or not maltreatment has occurred, but rather a determination about whether or not the family is in need of services.  In both assessment approaches safety is the focus of the assessment.  Once a decision is made to screen the case in, the supervisor will assign a time response based on the presenting information. The following response times are available: same day, 24-48, or five day.  The Alternative Response pathway is not designed for cases involving alleged severe maltreatment or allegations of sexual abuse. 

What will happen when the social worker sees the child and family?

The child and family members will be interviewed regarding the maltreatment concerns. The child's safety and risks will be assessed. Based on the information collected, a determination will be made in accordance with state statutes as to whether maltreatment has occurred in Traditional Response Cases. Services will be identified to help the child and the family.

Will the child be removed from their family?

The Fond du Lac County Department of Social Services strives to keep families together. Most children and families receive services in their home. In a small percentage of cases, children are removed from their home. These cases require court action which is guided by Wisconsin State Statutes, specifically, Chapter 48, also known as the Children's Code.

These statutes set forth agency child protection responsibilities, situations in which agencies may petition the Courts for involvement in children's lives, dispositions which courts might enter on children's behalf, criteria which must be met in order to take children into custody, places in which children taken into custody may be held, and more. These statutes clearly describe allowable social worker actions. Children and families are awarded many rights by these statutes. 

Mandated Reporters

  • Certain individuals whose employment brings them into contact with children are required by law to report any suspected abuse or neglect or threatened abuse or neglect to a child seen in the course of their professional duties. A person who is mandated to report suspected child abuse or neglect will be informed by the county what action, if any, was taken to protect the health, safety, and welfare of the child who is the subject of the report. Persons required to report who intentionally fail to report suspected child abuse or neglect may be fined up to $1,000 or imprisoned up to 6 months or both.
  • Click here for a list of mandated reporters

Confidentiality

Child abuse reports that are given to child protective service agencies are always confidential by law. Unless you are a mandated reporter, you can choose to make the report without giving your name.

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