Client Rights Office

Division of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services Wisconsin Department of Health Services

CRO mission

The Client Rights Office (CRO) has responsibility for implementation and oversight of the client rights grievance procedure for service recipients of the state's two Mental Health Institutes, the state's  Secure Treatment Center, and the three state Centers for the Developmentally Disabled, as mandated by sec. 51.61(5) Wis. Stats. (exit DHS; PDF - scroll to page 53) and DHS 94 (exit DHS; PDF). The grievance procedure for state-operated facilities is a four-stage process and CRO has the role of investigating complaints at the third stage and providing quality assurance review and follow-up on the first two stages of the grievance procedure.

In addition, the State Grievance Examiner (SGE) is a CRO staff member who is responsible for Level III community grievances filed under DHS 94, Wisconsin Administrative Code. That grievance process is for individuals receiving services for mental illness, a developmental disability or substance abuse. It applies to all inpatient and outpatient programs in Wisconsin.

CRO also provides consultation to service providers, county agencies, department staff, clients and guardians regarding client rights and the grievance resolution procedures under DHS 94. 

CRO also creates and maintains on-line basic Client Rights Training and special training for community Client Rights Specialists.

CRO duties

The Client Rights Office (CRO) receives and processes requests for Stage 3 reviews of grievances when clients are dissatisfied with the results of the first two stages of the DHS grievance resolution process. CRO Client Right Specialists investigate those complaints to determine if there are rights violations. They do not conduct hearings with sworn testimony. Rather, they investigate the complaints by interviewing involved parties and reviewing written documents. They make administrative findings and refer to relevant patient rights laws and rules and any past decision precedents on the issues. Recommendations are made where appropriate. The precedents created by Stage 3 and Stage 4 decisions are set forth in three Grievance Decision Digests - one for the Centers for the Developmentally Disabled, one for the Mental Health Institutes, and one for the Chapter 980 patients. These digests are updated periodically and made available to both staff and patients in state-operated facilities on the internal DHS work web.

The State Grievance Examiner (SGE) is also a member of the CRO staff. The SGE's duties include conducting Level III reviews of grievances filed under ss. 51.61, Wis. Stats., and DHS 94 involving any service providers other than the DHS-operated facilities. The SGE also has original jurisdiction to review any complaints about the community grievance procedure itself. The precedents created by the Level III and Level IV decisions in the DHS 94 grievance procedure are set forth in a Community Grievance Decision Digest, which is updated periodically and made available to everyone on this site.

3.  Promotion of Client Rights - CRO staff also monitor changes in client rights laws and rules and, where appropriate, recommend changes for the benefit of individuals receiving services for mental illness, developmental disabilities or substance abuse.

4. Technical Assistance - CRO staff, including the SGE, provide consultation on many topics and questions concerning client rights. They also work on various short and long-term projects to advance the cause of client rights, including guardianship, protective placement issues and consents for psychotropic medications.

CRO contacts

If you have questions about: psychotropic medications, AODA issues, treatment for Ch. 980 patients, conflict resolution, consents, or individual rights, call (608) 267-7144 or email the CRO Client Rights Specialist.

If you have questions about: the DHS 94 grievance procedure, guardianship, mediation, or training, call (608) 266-9369, or email the State Grievance Examiner.

If you have questions about: the grievance procedure for state mental health institutes and the state Centers for the developmentally disabled, call (608) 266-3102, or email the CRO Client Rights Specialist.

If you have questions about: grievance statistics, resident deaths,training, intranet site information, decision digests, rights of minors, pamphlets & posters, legal services attorney contract issues, call (608) 266-5525, or email the CRO Supervisor.

CRO mailing address

The Department of Health Services
Client Rights Office
P.O. Box 7851
Madison, WI 53707-7851

Telephone: (608) 266-2717 (Main division line)

Last Revised: November 17, 2014