Child welfare referrals in Door County decreased significantly in 2022 for the first time in more than a decade, the county Health and Human Services department’s 2022 statistical report reveals.

Although referrals have decreased, department director Joseph Krebsbach said at a Health and Human Services Board meeting Monday that out-of-home placements of Door County children have continued to increase.

While child welfare referrals did dip slightly in 2020 during the beginning of Covid-19 pandemic, Krebsbach said last year’s drop was significant.

“This is the first time in a lot of areas that I’ve seen our numbers actually go down,” Krebsbach said.

Child welfare reports, which include reports of parental abuse or neglect, had been on the rise in recent years in Door County. They reached an all-time high in 2021, far exceeding the previous record, which was set in 2019. In 2021, the total number of child welfare referrals was 592. The total in 2022 was down to 437. 

Regardless of this decrease, out-of-home placements for Door County children remain on the rise. The county reported in October that out-of-home placements had roughly doubled compared to 2021.

“Foster care numbers are significantly up this year,” Krebsbach said. “Even though we’ve had less referrals, we’ve had more-out-of-home placements than we’ve ever had.”

Other noteworthy shifts reported on the 2022 statistical report include:

  • An increase in Children’s Long-Term Support (CLTS) total cases: 86 in 2021 to 100 in 2022
  • An increase in Treatment Court participants: 5 in 2021 to 7 in 2022
  • An increase in Emergency Protective Placements/Guardianships in adult cases: 18 in 2021 to 29 in 2022