High Worker Turnover Jeopardizes Milwaukee Child Welfare Reform

(New York, NY) – Today state reviewers issued a report tracking the 2014 progress of the Wisconsin Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare (BMCW) in reforming its child welfare system, an effort spurred by national advocacy organization Children’s Rights. According to the report, 114 of the 194 case managers (59 percent) working for BMCW at the beginning of last year had left by the end of the year, and performance slipped in areas such as providing children in foster care with annual medical and dental exams and timely plans to connect them with permanent homes. In response to the report, Eric Thompson, Of Counsel to Children’s Rights, issued the following statement:

 “The very real concern is that chronic turnover is leading to inconsistent casework, with the Bureau’s reforms slipping in several critical areas. As case managers were leaving last year, fewer children in foster care were receiving annual medical and dental exams. Early planning to connect children with permanent families faltered. And efforts to reduce the number of children repeatedly shuffled between foster homes stalled. It is imperative that the Bureau better support caseworkers, so they can meet the challenges of protecting Milwaukee’s abused and neglected children.”

 Children’s Rights and co-counsel filed the federal class action known as Jeanine B. v. Walker in 1993, charging that the Milwaukee child welfare system was grossly mismanaged and failed to protect children in its care. After a state takeover, a court-supervised Settlement Agreement mandating an overhaul of the child welfare system was reached in 2002. State officials are continuing to implement an agreed-upon Corrective Action Plan aimed at bringing BMCW into full compliance with the requirements of the Settlement Agreement.

More information about Children’s Rights’ reform efforts in Milwaukee, including an archive of documents related to the case, can be found at http://www.childrensrights.org/Wisconsin.