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Children and Family Services

Children and Family Services, a Division of Rusk County Health and Human Services, provides direct assistance to families experiencing problems with either child abuse or child neglect issues, or juvenile justice concerns. Referrals are made through the Rusk County Department of Health and Human Services Juvenile Intake or Children Abuse and Neglect Intake.

Services provided can include:

  • Juvenile Court Intake
  • Child Protection
  • On-going case management
  • Children's Waiver Services
  • Foster Care Coordination and Licensing
  • Kinship Care/Relative Care
  • Independent Living
  • Parenting

PROGRAMS AND SERVICES

In responding to reports of maltreatment by parents, Child Protective Services represents a community concern regarding that family's ability to adequately meet the needs of its children.

At Investigation, the CPS purpose is to:

  • Assess the safety of children in the home;
  • Identify the present or absence of conditions in the home and behaviors, perception, and attitudes of family members related to the risk of maltreatment;
  • Assess whether the family needs services in order to change conditions related to the risk of maltreatment;
  • Introduce the agency as a provider of help;
  • Respond to the immediate needs of the family; and
  • If warranted, take action to control circumstances jeopardizing child safety.

What is Child Abuse and Neglect?

Child Abuse is the physical, sexual, or emotional maltreatment of a child (ages 0-18) by a parent, family member, other caregiver, or non-caregiver. Physical Abuse is defined as physical injury to 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. Sexual Abuse involves sexual intercourse, other sexual contact, forced viewing of sexual activity, exposing genitals to a child, permitting or encouraging a child to engage in prostitution, or exploitation. Emotional Abuse means harm to a childs psychological or intellectual functioning which in exhibited by anxiety, depression, withdrawal, or outward aggressive behavior, or a combination of behaviors, which are caused by the childs guardian, legal custodian, or other person exercising temporary or permanent control over the child and for which the child's guardian or legal custodian has failed to obtain the treatment necessary to remedy the harm. Emotional damage may be demonstrated by substantial and observable change in behavior which is incompatible with the childs age or stage of development. Neglect is defined as the failure, refusal, or inability on the part of a 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 a child.

How to report concerns

If you believe a child has been abused, neglected, or is at risk of abuse or neglect, you should report your concerns to the Children and Family Services Unit at 715-532-2299. You should ask to speak to the worker on call. If your call is after hours, please contact the Rusk County Sheriffs Department at 715-532-2200 and ask to speak with the Children and Family Worker on call. Please provide as much information as you can. State law protects reporter confidentiality. We will not disclose your name to the individuals whom you report.

Ongoing case management:

including coordination of services and dispositional services to the court in cases of a child in need of protection and/or services (CHIPS).

Dispositional services include but are not limited to: supervision, case planning, family assessments, and referrals for other services as deemed appropriate.

Kinship Care:

This program is for care of minors who are living with a relative due to abuse or neglect, or the risk of abuse or neglect, from their biological home. A payment is provided for the child. Caretaker relatives who wish to apply for benefits should contact our Kinship Care Coordinator at 715-532-2299. The agency will conduct an assessment to determine that there is a need for the child to be placed, conduct a criminal background check of the relative, any persons over the age of 12 living in the home, and any employees or prospective employees, who have or would have contact with the child. Additionally, the relative is expected to cooperate with referring the case to Child Support to establish and enforce a child support order. The Kinship Care Coordinator will assist caretaker relatives with filling out the appropriate paperwork. Finally, a brief home study is conducted of the caretakers home. Once eligibility is approved, the caretakers name will be placed on a wait list, if applicable, or will begin to receive a benefit of $220.00 per month. Yearly reviews are required by the Kinship Care Program guidelines.

When it is not possible to keep children with their birth parents, placing children with relatives is considered a responsible alternative. This program keeps children out of Foster Care and supports family connections.

Foster Care:

Foster Care is needed when children cannot remain with biological families for a variety of reasons. These include: physical, sexual, and emotional abuse; neglect; medical or physical disability of the child; or, the biological parents emotional or physical needs. Foster parents are licensed through the Department of Health and Human Services. Please contact our Foster Care Coordinator at 715-532-2299 for further information. We are always in need of foster homes to provide a safe, stable, and nurturing environment in cases where children need to be removed from their natural homes. We will gladly answer your questions and give you the necessary information so your household can make the right decision on whether or not to become a foster family. The Foster Care Coordinator will answer your questions and send you an information packet. All Foster Parents are screened through law enforcement records, criminal background checks as well as fingerprinted, need to obtain a health screen, and have personal references checked. Homes also need to meet some basic safety and space requirements.

Juvenile Court Intake:

A process of assessing referrals from law enforcement or school personnel for further action through the juvenile court process or social services system. These referrals are for actions that would be considered a crime if committed by an adult as well as truancy, runaway, and uncontrollable behavior. These referrals are assigned to a worker in the juvenile court intake unit. The worker is responsible for meeting with the child and parent to gather information in order to make a recommendation to the district attorneys office. Information regarding the family, child, school, and community will be asked during this meeting.

Programs included in Juvenile Court Intake:

  • Mentors
  • Community Service
  • Underage Alcohol Violators Program
  • Home Detention
  • Electronic Monitoring
  • JIPS (Juvenile in Need of Protection and/or Services

Independent Living Program:

The Independent Living Program teaches daily living skills to youth who are currently in foster care for youth ages 15-21. Individual training is also available. For further information please contact our Independent Living Coordinator at 715-532-2299.