Who We Are

What is WI CAN? Formed in 2009, the Wisconsin Child Abuse Network (WI CAN) is an inter-disciplinary public-private partnership dedicated to improving the accuracy of child abuse investigations and is led by representatives of state departments, community-based organizations, professional associations, along with the state’s medical universities and children’s hospitals.

Why WI CAN? Child maltreatment has immediate negative consequences for the child, family and society, and its lifelong impact on physical and mental health is devastating. Accurate detection of and effective intervention for all types of child maltreatment require a coordinated inter-disciplinary response by law enforcement and child welfare, usually with input from medical professionals. While the law enforcement and child welfare responses are statutorily mandated and funded, the medical response beyond making a mandated report is not. WI CAN has created a solution to improve the response to child maltreatment in Wisconsin by increasing access to evidence-based practices, education, and experts from key disciplines. WI CAN creates the environment where professionals work cooperatively to reach the ideal outcome for every child.

Two-month-old Ashley could have been saved if the professionals around her had accurate medical information and had worked together. Ashley had a small bruise on her cheek from being violently grabbed by her mother’s boyfriend. Ashley’s doctor reported the injury, but the investigation went nowhere because her doctor and the investigators did not work together or understand the serious implications of a seemingly minor bruise. One week later, Ashley died, violently abused by the mother’s boyfriend. Had a cohesive interdisciplinary model existed, Ashley might be alive today.