Snead brings expertise, life experience to committee
ELKHORN Michelle Snead thinks her expertise as an attorney is important, but her experiences as a mom will add a dimension to the work by a state committee looking into placing children into permanent homes.
"Being a parent helps me to understand the dynamic of cases," she said. "I think being a parent helps me to put procedural and process feelings aside once in a while and be sensitive to feelings of loss."
Snead has a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son. She also deals with displaced children as an assistant corporation counsel in Walworth County.
She has been named to a special state study committee that will look at laws dealing with children ages 8 or younger at risk of being placed outside their homes. The Wisconsin Legislative Council creates special study committees to look at issues not routinely dealt with by legislative standing committees.
"In 1997, Congress passed a law, The Adoption and Safe Families Act, to make sure children don't linger too long out of permanent home care," Snead said.
"The federal law defines permanency as 15 out of the last 22 months," Snead said. "What we want to see is a child who has been taken from a home either returned to that home, placed permanently with relatives, adopted or in some other way established in a permanent home environment."
In most cases, Snead said, the children have been removed from a home because of abuse or neglect.
"Foster care is a temporary measure," Snead said. "It's a service used while a permanent placement is found."
Snead has the legal background to study child placement. She successfully argued a Walworth County case related to child placement in front of the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
The study committee had its first meeting Wednesday in Madison. It has been charged with determining how law can be changed to more quickly find permanent homes for children at risk of placement outside their homes.
Legislative council committees often recommend new laws or changes in current law. The goal is to complete the study process in time to draft legislation for the legislative session beginning in January.