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Protective Placement – County’s Obligation to Find and Fund Placement

Dunn County v. Judy K., 2002 WI 87, on certification

Issue: Whether a county is required to find an fund an appropriate placement under § 55.06(9)(a).


¶28. We therefore determine that in protective placements pursuant to § 55.06(9)(a), counties must make an affirmative showing of a good faith, reasonable effort to find an appropriate placement and to secure funding to pay for an appropriate placement. Put more succinctly, the county must show it has made a good faith, reasonable effort to find and fund an appropriate placement.¶29. The determination of what is an appropriate placement depends upon the application of all the factors outlined in § 55.06(9)(a). At the same time, the statute provides a limitation on a county’s ultimate financial liability: The county may not be required to provide funding, in addition to its funds that are required to be appropriated to match state funds, in order to protectively place an individual.

¶30. The find and fund standard will help ensure that protective placements comport with the multi-factor statutory scheme, which recognizes the needs and rights of placed individuals as well as the significant role that counties play in the protective placement system. Placing the burden on the counties to show a good faith, reasonable effort to find and fund also makes sense because the counties’ substantial responsibility in the protective placement system means they are the repository of much of the information and other resources pertinent to funding and placement.

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