Wis. Stat. § 48.01

Wisconsin Statutes

Social Services

Chapter 48. Children's Code

Subchapter I. General Provisions


§ 48.01. Title and legislative purpose


(1) This chapter may be cited as "The Children's Code". In construing this chapter, the best interests of the child or unborn child shall always be of paramount consideration. This chapter shall be liberally construed to effectuate the following express legislative purposes:


(a) While recognizing that the paramount goal of this chapter is to protect children and unborn children, to preserve the unity of the family, whenever appropriate, by strengthening family life through assisting parents and the expectant mothers of unborn children, whenever appropriate, in fulfilling their responsibilities as parents or expectant mothers. The courts and agencies responsible for child welfare, while assuring that a child's health and safety are the paramount concerns, should assist parents and the expectant mothers of unborn children in changing any circumstances in the home which might harm the child or unborn child, which may require the child to be placed outside the home or which may require the expectant mother to be taken into custody. The courts should recognize that they have the authority, in appropriate cases, not to reunite a child with his or her family. The courts and agencies responsible for child welfare should also recognize that instability and impermanence in family relationships are contrary to the welfare of children and should therefore recognize the importance of eliminating the need for children to wait unreasonable periods of time for their parents to correct the conditions that prevent their safe return to the family.


(ad) To provide judicial and other procedures through which children and all other interested parties are assured fair hearings and their constitutional and other legal rights are recognized and enforced, while protecting the public safety.


(ag) To recognize that children have certain basic needs which must be provided for, including the need for adequate food, clothing and shelter; the need to be free from physical, sexual or emotional injury or exploitation; the need to develop physically, mentally and emotionally to their potential; and the need for a safe and permanent family. It is further recognized that, under certain circumstances, in order to ensure that the needs of a child, as described in this paragraph, are provided for, the court may determine that it is in the best interests of the child for the child to be removed from his or her parents, consistent with any applicable law relating to the rights of parents.


(am) To recognize that unborn children have certain basic needs which must be provided for, including the need to develop physically to their potential and the need to be free from physical harm due to the habitual lack of self-control of their expectant mothers in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree. It is further recognized that, when an expectant mother of an unborn child suffers from a habitual lack of self-control in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree, in order to ensure that the needs of the unborn child, as described in this paragraph, are provided for, the court may determine that it is in the best interests of the unborn child for the expectant mother to be ordered to receive treatment, including inpatient treatment, for that habitual lack of self-control, consistent with any applicable law relating to the rights of the expectant mother.


(ap) To recognize the compelling need to reduce the harmful financial, societal and emotional impacts that arise and the tremendous burdens that are placed on families and the community and on the health care, social services, educational and criminal justice systems as a result of the habitual lack of self-control of expectant mothers in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree, during all stages of pregnancy.


(bg)1. To ensure that children are protected against the harmful effects resulting from the absence of parents or parent substitutes, from the inability, other than financial inability, of parents or parent substitutes to provide care and protection for their children and from the destructive behavior of parents or parent substitutes in providing care and protection for their children.


2. To ensure that children are provided good substitute parental care in the event of the absence, temporary or permanent inability, other than financial inability, or unfitness of parents to provide care and protection for their children.


(bm) To ensure that unborn children are protected against the harmful effects resulting from the habitual lack of self-control of their expectant mothers in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree. To effectuate this purpose and the purpose specified in par. (am), it is the intent of the legislature that the provisions of this chapter that protect unborn children against those harmful effects and that provide for the needs of unborn children, as described in par. (am), shall be construed to apply throughout an expectant mother's pregnancy to the extent that application of those provisions throughout an expectant mother's pregnancy is constitutionally permissible and that expectant mothers who habitually lack self-control in the use of alcohol beverages, controlled substances or controlled substance analogs, exhibited to a severe degree, be encouraged to seek treatment for that habitual lack of self-control voluntarily when voluntary treatment would be practicable and effective.


(br) To encourage innovative and effective prevention, intervention and treatment approaches, including collaborative community efforts and the use of community-based programs, as significant strategies in planning and implementing legislative, executive and local government policies and programs relating to children and their families and substitute families and to unborn children and their expectant mothers.


(dm) To divert children and unborn children from formal proceedings under this chapter to the extent that this is consistent with protection of children, unborn children and the public safety.


(f) To assure that children pending adoptive homes will be placed in the best homes available and protected from adoption by persons unfit to have responsibility for raising children.


(gg) To promote the adoption of children into safe and stable families rather than allowing children to remain in the impermanence of foster or treatment foster care.


(gr) To allow for the termination of parental rights at the earliest possible time after rehabilitation and reunification efforts are discontinued in accordance with this chapter and termination of parental rights is in the best interest of the child.


(gt) To reaffirm that the duty of a parent to support and maintain his or her child continues during any period in which the child may be removed from the custody of the parent.


(2) In proceedings involving an American Indian child, the best interests of the child shall be determined consistent with the Indian child welfare act, 25 USC 1901 to 1963. In this subsection, "American Indian child" means any unmarried person who is under 18 years of age and who is one of the following:


(a) A member of an Indian tribe, as defined in 25 USC 1903(8).


(b) Eligible for membership in an Indian tribe and is the biological child of a member of an Indian tribe.

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