Background Checks for Prospective Foster, Adoptive, and Kinship Caregivers - Wisconsin

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Who Needs Records Checks

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.685; 48.88

Background checks are required for employees, caregivers, and nonclient residents at any of the following entities:

  • A licensed child welfare or child-placing agency
  • A foster home
  • An interim caregiver to whom subsidized guardianship payments are made
  • A person who is proposed as a successor guardian in a subsidized guardianship agreement
  • A group home or shelter care facility
  • A child care center or child care provider

Background checks also are required for prospective adoptive parents.

Types of Records That Must Be Checked

Citation: Ann. Stat. §§ 48.685; 48.88

The background check shall include the following:

  • A criminal history search from the records maintained by the Department of Justice
  • Information that is contained in the registry under § 146.40(4g) regarding any findings against a health-care provider
  • Information maintained by the Department of Safety and Professional Services regarding the status of the person's credentials, if applicable
  • Information maintained by the Department of Children and Families regarding any final determination that the person has abused or neglected a child
  • Information maintained by the Department of Health Services regarding any denial to the person of a license or employment

If the prospective adoptive parent was required to obtain an initial license to operate a foster home or treatment foster home before placement of the child for adoption, the agency making the investigation shall obtain a criminal history search from the records maintained by the Department of Justice and request a fingerprint-based check of the national crime information databases with respect to the petitioner.

Process for Obtaining Records Checks

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.685; Admin. Code DCF 56.055

Every entity shall obtain all of the required information with respect to a caregiver of the entity and any nonclient resident of a caregiver.

If the person who is the subject of the search is not a resident of this State, or if at any time within the 5 years preceding the date of the search that person has not been a resident of this State, the entity shall make a good-faith effort to obtain from any State in which the person is a resident or was a resident information that is equivalent to the information specified above. The department or entity may require the person to be fingerprinted on two fingerprint cards, each bearing a complete set of the person's fingerprints, or by other technologies approved by law enforcement agencies. The Department of Justice may provide for the submission of the fingerprint cards or fingerprints by other technologies to the Federal Bureau of Investigation for the purposes of verifying the identity of the person fingerprinted and obtaining records of his or her criminal arrests and convictions.

If the person is seeking a license to operate a foster home or is an adult nonclient resident of the foster home and if the person or adult nonclient resident is not, or at any time within the preceding 5 years has not been a resident of this State, the department shall check any child abuse or neglect registry maintained by any State or other U.S. jurisdiction in which the person or adult nonclient resident is a resident or was a resident within those 5 years for information that is equivalent to the information specified above.

In regulation: The requirements of Wis. Ann. Stat. § 48.685 apply to an adoptive parent applicant who is in a home studied by a county department or a child-placing agency.

Grounds for Disqualification

Citation: Ann. Stat. § 48.685

An applicant will not be approved if the results of the background study reveals any of the following:

  • That the person has been convicted of a serious crime or adjudicated delinquent on or after his or her 10th birthday for committing a serious crime or that the person is the subject of a pending criminal charge or delinquency petition alleging that the person has committed a serious crime on or after his or her 10th birthday
  • That the person has abused or neglected any client or misappropriated the property of any client
  • That the person has abused or neglected a child

A foster home will not be licensed if the applicant has ever been convicted of any of the following offenses:

  • A felony offense under ch. 948, crimes against children, including, but not limited to, the following:
    • Sexual assault of a child
    • Sexual assault of a child placed in substitute care
    • Physical abuse of a child
    • Causing mental harm to a child
    • Sexual exploitation of a child, including child pornography
    • Trafficking of a child
    • Child abandonment, child neglect, and chronic child neglect
    • Incest with a child
    • Causing a child to view sexually explicit conduct, including actual or simulated sexual intercourse, sadomasochistic abuse, bestiality, or the lewd exhibition of intimate parts
  • Battery, substantial battery, or aggravated battery, if the victim is the spouse of the person
  • Reckless injury, intentional homicide, felony murder, reckless homicide, mayhem, or sexual assault
  • Taking hostages or kidnapping
  • Endangering a person's safety by the use of a dangerous weapon
  • Disarming a peace officer
  • Burglary or robbery
  • Operating a vehicle without the owner's consent while possessing a dangerous weapon

An applicant will be disqualified if he or she has committed, within the 5 years preceding the date of the investigation, any of the following offenses:

  • Battery
  • Injury or death caused by providing alcohol beverages to a minor
  • Providing a falsified official identification card to an underage person
  • Impersonating an officer
  • Manufacturing or rectifying intoxicating liquor and selling such liquor without a permit
  • Recovering and selling any alcohol or alcoholic liquid from denatured alcohol
  • Homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle or firearm
  • Battery or threat to a judge, a Department of Revenue employee, a Department of Safety and Professional Services employee, or a Department of Workforce Development employee
  • Injury by intoxicated use of a vehicle
  • Operating a vehicle under the influence of an intoxicant or other drug
  • Any drug-related felony under ch. 961