Dept. demonstrates strong progress in keeping Mich. children safe

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Wednesday described its progress in improving safety and other outcomes for youth in the state’s child welfare system.

The update came during a virtual appearance before Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“I’m pleased and optimistic,” Judge Edmunds said during the court hearing. “I think everyone seems to be heading in the right direction with the same goal in mind.” She said she would like the monitors appointed by the court to review and validate the department’s implementation of the new strategies and then share with the court the effects of the changes.

In four months MDHHS has implemented 67 strategies identified in a plan it developed in April to improve services provided to youth and families involved with the state’s child welfare system.

“We have made substantial strides in the last few months and will continue to improve our child welfare system,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We have devoted significant resources to this goal. Our team – MDHHS staff and our private agency partners – continue to work hard on behalf of children and families. We will not rest until Michigan accomplishes its goal to keep our children safe.”

Some of the improvement strategies that MDHHS detailed today include:

• Creating specialized staffing positions throughout the state to support relative/kinship caregivers, with more than 289 caregivers assisted by the staff.

• Creating the Division of Child Safety and Program Compliance to assist and provide additional oversight of contracted agencies that provide congregate care or place children in foster care homes or facilities.

• Increasing training for frontline staff and improved processes to reduce the number of sibling groups separated in foster care.

• Forming a partnership with the State Court Administrative Office to collect data that will help the department and the courts better monitor the time it takes for children to get permanent homes through reunification with their parents or adoption.

Federal court monitors have been tracking the MDHHS’s progress since a court settlement in 2008 following a 2006 lawsuit by the advocacy group Children’s Rights.

To view additional information about MDHHS’s progress in this area, visit www.michigan.gov/ChildWelfareAgreement.

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) on Wednesday described its progress in improving safety and other outcomes for youth in the state’s child welfare system.

The update came during a virtual appearance before Judge Nancy G. Edmunds in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.

“I’m pleased and optimistic,” Judge Edmunds said during the court hearing. “I think everyone seems to be heading in the right direction with the same goal in mind.” She said she would like the monitors appointed by the court to review and validate the department’s implementation of the new strategies and then share with the court the effects of the changes.

In four months MDHHS has implemented 67 strategies identified in a plan it developed in April to improve services provided to youth and families involved with the state’s child welfare system.

“We have made substantial strides in the last few months and will continue to improve our child welfare system,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “We have devoted significant resources to this goal. Our team – MDHHS staff and our private agency partners – continue to work hard on behalf of children and families. We will not rest until Michigan accomplishes its goal to keep our children safe.”

Some of the improvement strategies that MDHHS detailed today include:

• Creating specialized staffing positions throughout the state to support relative/kinship caregivers, with more than 289 caregivers assisted by the staff.

• Creating the Division of Child Safety and Program Compliance to assist and provide additional oversight of contracted agencies that provide congregate care or place children in foster care homes or facilities.

• Increasing training for frontline staff and improved processes to reduce the number of sibling groups separated in foster care.

• Forming a partnership with the State Court Administrative Office to collect data that will help the department and the courts better monitor the time it takes for children to get permanent homes through reunification with their parents or adoption.

Federal court monitors have been tracking the MDHHS’s progress since a court settlement in 2008 following a 2006 lawsuit by the advocacy group Children’s Rights.

To view additional information about MDHHS’s progress in this area, visit www.michigan.gov/ChildWelfareAgreement.