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Wisconsin CPS News Archive
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Wisconsin News Coverage
Father says fighting with child welfare system is a losing battle
We've all heard the saying "innocent until proven guilty," but when it comes to child neglect and abuse cases, it appears to be the opposite.
Even after Wisconsin parents say they've done everything the state has asked them to do, it can take months or even years for them to be reunited with their children. Two years after Luis Velazquez was found "not guilty" of child neglect, he's still fighting to get his daughter back from protective custody.
May 4, 2016
Residents urged to drink bottled water after manure spill
FENNIMORE, Wis -- A manure spill in southwest Wisconsin is raising concerns.
Residents near Fennimore are being urged to drink bottled water and test their wells, after manure from the Misty Morning dairy farm flowed two miles into Castle Rock Creek.
February 19, 2016
Inside Track: Legislative Update: Lawmakers Pass Numerous Bills as Floor Period Ends
The new year marked a new round of activity for the Wisconsin Legislature, which took action on a number of bills in recent weeks and days.
This update highlights a number of newly enacted laws, bills that have passed both houses, some that were gaining momentum, and others that are languishing or recently introduced. While not exhaustive, the summary hits a number of bills that are of interest to lawyers.
February 17, 2016
Wisconsin Police To Take DNA Samples Of Suspects Not Convicted Of Crime
A new state law in Wisconsin goes into effect on April 1 that allows police to collect DNA samples from people who have been convicted of misdemeanors, and those who are suspects, but have not been convicted of a crime.
Under current Wisconsin law, every convicted felon has to submit a sample of their DNA (via swabbing the cheek), regardless of the relevancy or non-relevancy to their conviction. That DNA has been used by Wisconsin's State Crime Lab to create a DNA profile, which is matched against a database of unsolved crimes. Now, that same databank will include misdemeanor convictions and people not convicted of crimes.
March 28, 2015
UPDATE: More details on child killed in apparent murder/suicide
Rochester police said Monday a 49-year-old man killed his 9-year-old daughter and then himself during his visitation with the girl at his brother's house on Sunday.
Police responded just after 4 p.m. Sunday to the 4500 block of Fifth Street Northwest. Lt. Casey Moilanen said the girl was at her father's home visiting for a few hours, but was shot and killed just as the girl's mother arrived to pick her up and take her home between 3:30 p.m. and 4 p.m.
November 24, 2014
Koch-Tied Group Tries to Trick Stoners Into Voting for Wisconsin Libertarian
Libertarian Robert Burke tries to distance himself from the ads and the Kochs.
Mary Burke supports medical marijuana (which AFF does not mention) but has not called for its full legalization. Walker opposes marijuana for medical or recreational uses, repeating the discredited claim that pot is a "gateway drug," and in recent months has called for drug testing for public aid recipients.
November 4, 2014
Election clerks don't follow model ballot
lection clerks around Wisconsin, including the Democratic one in Dane County, have decided not to use a model ballot for the November election that's being challenged by Republicans as confusing and benefiting Democrats.
Dane County Clerk Scott McDonell said Friday that he decided to use a ballot with shading to differentiate the offices and candidates, as has been done for years. The new model ballot offered by the Government Accountability Board no longer has the shading or a line after the title of the office and the name of the first candidate. A lawsuit filed this week by Republican legislative leaders contends the elections board has the power to reject ballots that deviate from that model, and it should redraft the model to make it less confusing.
September 19, 2014
Court filings seek to stop Doe probe into recall elections
Madison - Three unnamed people have filed five requests with the state Court of Appeals to stay a secret investigation of campaign fundraising and spending during Wisconsin's recent recall elections.
Madison attorney Dean Strang and Milwaukee attorney Matthew O'Neill filed the motions on Thursday, according to online court records. The filings name special prosecutor Francis Schmitz and initially named retired Kenosha County Circuit Judge Barbara Kluka, who was originally in charge of the investigation. The filings were amended Monday to reflect the investigation is now being overseen by retired Appeals Court Judge Gregory Peterson.
November 19, 2013
Asian carp DNA found in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters for first time
For the first time, Asian carp DNA has turned up in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan waters, the state Department of Natural Resources reported Tuesday. The single positive water sample for the jumping silver carp was taken May 31 in Sturgeon Bay.
The sampling was part of a Lake Michigan-wide survey looking for evidence of Eurasian ruffe, a different type of invasive fish species. The water sample was not screened for the presence of Asian carp DNA until this fall, and the DNR did not get word of the positive result until last week, said Mike Staggs, DNR's fishery director.
November 19, 2013
Audit questions nearly $130,000 in spending by Wisconsin child-placement agencies
Child welfare agencies licensed by the state to place and monitor children in foster homes made nearly $130,000 questionable transactions over a two-year period, including nearly $5,500 for holiday parties, an audit released Wednesday found.
The audit was ordered by Wisconsin lawmakers earlier this year over concerns about excessive salaries, personal expenses and undocumented expenditures at child-placing agencies. The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau reviewed operations at all 24 of the state's licensed child-placing agencies.
October 9, 2013
State, foster care agency reach settlement
MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A foster care placement agency will pay the state $1 million under terms of a settlement it reached with the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families.
The state alleged Community Care Resources Inc., overcharged taxpayers about $6 million between 2009 and 2011 and used some of the money for luxury cars, trips and excessive salaries for its owner.
October 4, 2013
Organic food promoted across Madison and Dane County
Student organizations, city officials and now the county parks department are all pushing to include more organic and locally grown food into the diets of students and residents across the city of Madison and Dane County.
As part of its Organic Agriculture Lands initiative, Dane County will lease 24 acres of county park land to an organic grower, according to a Dane County statement. The county also has a community garden at another park, and hopes to open up another fresh food market in Madison, the statement said.
September 23, 2013
Supreme Court Says Jury Must Hear Facts in Parental Termination Case
A mother facing termination of parental rights proceedings did not timely appear at a fact-finding hearing before a jury. But a Wisconsin Supreme Court majority says her attorney could have presented evidence in her absence. Now she'll get a new hearing.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court, by a 4-3 majority, has ruled that a Dane County woman will have another shot to keep her kids because of erroneous lower court rulings that prevented her from presenting evidence to a jury. When the mother (Mable) failed to timely appear at a fact-finding hearing, the circuit court entered a default judgment establishing grounds for termination without letting Mable's lawyer offer evidence to refute the claim that she abandoned her children.
March 30, 2013
Counties kept in dark about alleged abuses at foster-care agency
A Middleton foster-care company may have managed to overcharge taxpayers by an alleged $6.1 million by exploiting weaknesses in the financial oversight exercised by counties and the state, the State Journal has found.
CCR has contracts in 24 Wisconsin counties serving about 120 children. County officials said they were shocked at the allegations against CCR, but they also uniformly praised the foster families and services provided by the company. The state has revoked CCR's license, but the company continues to operate while it appeals.
March 24, 2013
Officials: State lacked way to detect alleged foster care overcharges until 2011
State child welfare officials told a state Senate committee Thursday that until 2011, the state lacked the ability to detect overcharges by foster care agencies.
Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson also hinted that authorities are weighing a criminal investigation, saying "the attorney general's office has indicated to us that they're working with us and been in communication with us." The hearing was called by Senate Health and Human Services co-chairwoman Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, in response to what she called "quite astounding" allegations that a Middleton-based company had overcharged taxpayers by $6.1 million between 2009 and 2011. DCF says some of that money was used for excessive salaries, luxury cars and personal travel for owner Dan Simon and his wife, Mary, who is also employed there.
March 24, 2013
Fraud charges mar respected career for foster care placement agency founder
MADISON - Twenty-three years ago, a greenhorn entrepreneur pulled up to John and Rita Martin's house in Westfield.
The entrepreneur was Dan Simon, and the Martins were among the initial foster families Simon licensed through Community Care Resources, the company he started in his suburban Madison basement in 1989. Over the next 20-plus years, Simon built the company into the largest for-profit foster care placement agency in Wisconsin, with 30 employees, nearly 100 foster families and about $6 million in annual revenues.
March 24, 2013
Girl's return home ends with slap from mother
A small girl, not yet 5, showed up at school on Tuesday with a bruise on her face. It was, according to a criminal complaint, the shape of a hand. When a teacher asked the child what happened, the girl said her mom had hit her.
Police asked the girl's older brother what happened. He told them his sister had told a lie about some pennies, so their mom slapped her repeatedly, slapped her so hard she bloodied her face. The girl's 28-year-old mother has been charged with physical abuse of a child, a felony punishable by up to six years in prison.
March 9, 2013
Lawmakers Call for Criminal Investigation of a Middleton Foster Care Agency
MADISON, Wis. -- Two Republican state lawmakers are calling for a criminal investigation of a Middleton foster care agency of misusing nearly $5 million in taxpayer money.
The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has revoked the license of the foster care agency following its own audit that found the agency inflated salaries and spent taxpayer money on luxury cars, personal travel and other inappropriate expenses between 2009 and 2011.
February 4, 2013
State: Foster care agency owner misused nearly $5M of taxpayer money
A Middleton foster care agency and its top officials allegedly misused nearly $5 million in taxpayer dollars to pay for inflated salaries, luxury cars, personal travel and other inappropriate expenses over a three-year period.
In the Jan. 23 letter, the state alleges that CCR owner Dan Simon and his wife, Mary, earned at least $531,000 in inflated salaries. In addition, the letter says the company billed the state for more than $64,000 in personal travel, including multiple trips to Alaska and Hawaii; charged $120,000 in expenses related to the Simons' three homes, six vehicles and three boats; bought a 2010 Lexus RX350 for $43,000 and was reimbursed hundreds of thousands of dollars for miscellaneous and undocumented expenses between 2009 and 2011.
February 1, 2013
High caseloads, state regulations pressure child abuse investigators
On a recent Friday, Wendy Axt raced to an emergency call from the Portage County Sheriff's Department to investigate an allegation of child abuse - one more complicated case added to the list of about 40 others sitting on her desk.
Normally, the 13-year social worker feels capable of balancing the workload, but lately she can't seem to catch up. Her newest case, involving two children, multiple adults and a custody dispute, has consumed nearly every working hour for five days and counting. She still has five other active investigations and a backlog of about 35 cases waiting for last minute details or a final report before she can close them out.
December 16, 2012
Pushing On: The Story of the Early Years of VHS
When Michele Hutchison's son began kindergarten, it did not go as expected. The stress of being in school at a young age caused negative side effects on her young son as the year progressed.
Families made the decision to homeschool for a variety of reasons. Some, like Hutchison, decided to homeschool their kids when they became dissatisfied with the experiences and difficulties their kids had in the public school system. "After much prayer and research and more prayer, we believed we had nicely rounded children and they didn't fit in those square desks."
November 7, 2012
Children rescued from house fire
MILWAUKEE -- Two children were rescued by firefighters from an early morning house fire on Milwaukee's south side
Nine children were in the house total. No adults were present at the time of the fire. No one was injured. Both Milwaukee Police and the Bureau of Child Welfare were called in to investigate the situation.
October 22, 2012
Foster Care, Part One: State Aims to Fix 'Fragmented' Health Care System for Kids
The state of Wisconsin says it will soon roll out a new health care system for children in foster care. They often have far more serious medical and mental health needs than peers.
In the first of a two-part series, WUWM's Erin Toner reports on a big shortcoming of the current health care system for foster children - their medical records are scattered and incomplete. What the state plans to do to address the problem, is create for each child, a "medical home."
October 22, 2012
Parisi: Boost help for victims of child abuse
Dane County Executive Joe Parisi will recommend adding three child protective services social workers when he introduces his 2013 budget on Monday, his office said.
The proposal follows several troubling cases of child abuse and neglect in the area, he said. The additional positions would increase the number of licensed social workers in child protective services from 51 to 54, said Lynn Green, the county's human services director. "This is huge for us," Green added.
September 29, 2012
Troubled youth study begins
APPLETON - Over the next year, national researchers will help Outagamie County learn more about preventing kids in child welfare from having run-ins with the law.
A kick-off event was held Tuesday at the Appleton Police Department for the "Crossover Youth Project," which includes four counties from across the U.S. The project is sponsored by the MacArthur Foundation and Robert F. Kennedy Children's Action Corps and seeks to restructure county resources to best meet kids' needs.
August 18, 2012
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