Department of Health and Family Services
Division of Children and Family Services
February 23, 2000


To: Area Administrators/Assistant Area Administrators
Bureau Directors
County Departments of Community Program Directors
County Departments of Developmental Disabilities
     Services Directors
County Departments of Human Services Directors
County Departments of Social Services Directors
Direct Services Supervisors
Licensing Chiefs/Section Chiefs
Tribal Chairpersons/Human Services Facilitators
From: Susan N. Dreyfus


This memo describes the new Medical Assistance policy related to parents, caretakers and relative caretakers of children who are temporarily absent from their homes.

 Earlier this year, we provided you with a copy of BWI Operations Memo 99-12 regarding the availability of Medical Assistance for parents and relative caretakers of children temporarily absent from the child’s home. This is an important change in MA policy that will assist child welfare agencies in efforts to reunify families. A copy of that Bureau of Welfare Initiatives memo is also attached to this numbered memo.

For purposes of this numbered memo, the following definitions apply:

  • "Caretaker" means a parent or Kinship Care relative.

  • "Parent" means the custodial parent(s) from whose home the child is temporarily absent.

  • "Kinship Care relative" means a relative of the child who is receiving a payment for the care and maintenance of the child under the Kinship Care program.

In summary, this new policy contains the following provisions:


Medical Assistance is available to the parent from whose home a child was removed and placed in either foster care or Kinship Care by a court order or to a Kinship Care relative from whose home a child was removed and placed in either foster care or the home of another relative by a court order if all of the following conditions are met:

  • The child is not Title IV-E eligible. (We are currently seeking a federal waiver which would also include Title IV-E eligible children in this new policy. We will notify you if the waiver is approved.)

  • The caretaker is cooperating with the permanency plan, the goal of which is family reunification.

  • The absence is expected to last for no more than 6 months (although the economic support agency may approve an extension beyond 6 months if there is a permanency plan, the goal of which is family reunification).

  • The caretaker continues to exercise responsibility for the care and control of the child.

One of the following must also be met:

  • For AFDC-MA, the child’s absence from the home is not the result of a dispositional order placing the child out of the home for 3 months or more (including an order placing the child for an unspecified time period); or

  • For AFDC-Related MA, the child has been removed pursuant to a dispositional order under s.48.355, Stats., for any period of time and the parent continues to cooperate with a permanency plan, the goal of which is family reunification.

For the above conditions, the following definitions are to be used:

  • "Continues to cooperate" means that the caretaker’s response to the agency’s assistance has not resulted in the agency determining that reunification will no longer be the permanence goal. That is, if the agency determines that the permanence goal should no longer be reunification and requests that the court change the permanence goal, the temporary absence requirements are no longer met. It makes no difference whether or not the court agrees with the agency’s request.

  • "Exercise responsibility for care and control of the child" means that either legal custody remains with the caretaker or that it is planned that the child will be returned to the caretaker when the court order expires.

This policy applies to children placed by child welfare agencies in foster care, Kinship Care or group homes. It also includes children placed in child caring institutions (CCIs), an institution for mental disease and other medical institutions by a child welfare agency. It does not include children placed in a public institution.

Kinship Care relatives of children in Kinship Care may also be eligible if they meet all of the above criteria. However, the Kinship Care relative and the parent cannot be simultaneously eligible for the same child. Therefore, if the child’s parent is eligible, the Kinship Care relative is not.


If the parent or Kinship Care relative applies to the economic support agency (and child welfare workers should encourage them to do so), the economic support agency and the child’s worker must communicate to assure that the child is not IV-E eligible and that the other eligibility criteria are met. The child welfare worker must also alert the economic support agency at any time that any of the eligibility criteria are not met.

County agencies are encouraged to assure that eligible caretakers are aware of this policy to assist in the reunification of the child.

Medical Assistance issues

John LaPhilliph
P.O. Box 309
Madison, WI 53701-0309
Phone: (608) 266-6772
FAX: (608) 266-1096
Child Welfare issues

Mary Conroy
P.O. Box 8916
Madison, WI 53708-8916
Phone: (608) 267-7287
FAX: (608) 264-6750e-mail:


c: County Foster Care Coordinators
County/Tribal Kinship Care Contacts

The Department of Children and Families, protecting children, strengthening families, building communities.