General Access provides information about agency and community services to our customers and processes requests for agency services. 
 
Child maltreatment reports are made to social workers who are trained in child protective services. Reports include concerns of physical abuse, neglect, sexual abuse and emotional damage. For more information, http://dcf.wisconsin.gov/children/CPS/progserv/signs.HTM
 
Social workers conduct a formal assessment of those referrals meeting the legal criteria for agency involvement. Assessments address child safety and the need for family services, court intervention and out of home placement. The unit has sixty days to complete an assessment to determine is the child is safe. The assigned social worker provides emergency services and referrals services during the assessment. Children requiring longer term safety plans are referred to our ongoing child protective services unit.

Q: How do I make a report of abuse or neglect?

A: Reports of child abuse or neglect may be made to the Department of Social Services or to your local law enforcement agency. Reports to the Department of Social Service are accepted during business hours:

Monday - Friday 8:00 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. call (715)261-7556 or (715)261-7500

After Hours/Week ends/Holidays call your local law enforcement agency or the Marathon County Sheriff's Department.

Q: If I report abuse or neglect will MCDSS keep my name confidential?

A: Yes.

Q: How old does a child have to be before they can be home alone or baby sit for other children?

A: While there is no set age by law, the agency guidelines and community standard point to age 12 years or older when children can usually handle some time home alone and provide care for other children. Many variables beyond age should be considered in making a decision that children are ready to handle self care situations. These variables include: time of day, amount of time home alone, child’s social and emotional maturity, child's problem solving abilities, neighborhood safety, home safety, child's special needs, child's chore responsibilities, etc. For further guidance please see Home Alone: Guidelines for Parents. PDF: English, Spanish, Hmong.

Q: Is spanking against the law?

A: Physical discipline is legal in the state of Wisconsin unless there is physical injury that meets the definition of physical abuse; meaning serious injury inflicted on a child by other than accidental means.

Q: Why is it that some child abuse referrals are not investigated? Can't Social Services just check a home out?

A: Child Protective Service assessments are initiated when the referral meets the statutory definition of child maltreatment; defined by Wisconsin State Statute as physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional damage and/or neglect. If the referral does not fit these definitions, The Department of Social Services does not have legal authority to intervene.

Q:  What is involved in a Child Protective Service Assessment and what are a parent's rights?

A:  Social Services is required to investigate reports of suspected child abuse and neglect to protect children, to prevent further maltreatment and to preserve families whenever possible. The social worker’s job is to interview children, parents and other household members, learn about the family, gather information about the maltreatment, observe the family home and write a report that explains what was done. A brochure has been developed “Parents’ Guide to Child Protective Service Assessments” to help parents understand what to expect in the child protection process.

Q: Why don't you remove more kids to foster care and why do you return them to their parents when they seem to be doing so well out of the home?

A: Removal from the parental home and foster care placement is the last option considered in a social work intervention. The children are returned to the parent's home when safety can be established. By law, the Department's goal must be reunification with parents and our role is to provide services to ameliorate the effects of maltreatment.

Q: Can you stop child visitation? My kids don't want to go to their father/mother's house.

A: Parents are required to comply with a family court order. Changes to a court order are done in family court. At times, during a child protective service investigation, the existing visitation order will be altered by parent's agreement or by a Temporary Physical Custody (TPC) order due to immediate protection issues.

Q: Can I get information on whether my neighbors were ever investigated for abuse to their children?

A: Child Protective Service information is confidential and may not be released except under specific circumstances stated in Wisconsin Statute Chapter 48.981(7).