Corrigan honored for child welfare system reforms


Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan recently received a statewide award that memorializes a colleague and friend.

Corrigan was surprised with the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award during Michigan Adoption Day ceremonies last month at the Michigan Supreme Court. Jeffrey Albaugh, Calhoun County Friend of the Court since 1980, received the same award today.

Wright, a Grand Ledge attorney, was credited with the “Michigan Miracle” in 2002 when he worked as a special assistant to then-Chief Justice Corrigan. He led state efforts to upgrade Michigan’s child support enforcement system and meet federally required deadlines. He died in July 2012.

Corrigan left the Michigan Supreme Court in 2011 to become director of the Department of Human Services. She is retiring from that position at the end of this year.

At last month’s event, colleagues credited Corrigan with being a strong advocate for children as a judge and at DHS.

“Maura, you are smart, focused, decisive and tenacious,” said Carl Gromek, former Michigan state court administrator. “Nobody works harder. Nobody cares more.”

Gromek credited Corrigan with turning around the state’s child welfare system, overseeing DHS as the state exceeded federal standards for finding adoptive homes for children in foster care and the success of Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care – which can extend foster care services and benefits until age 21.

He also noted her close relationship with Wright. “Congratulations, he’s smiling down on you,” Gromek said.

Family, friends and DHS coworkers surprised Corrigan by showing up for the ceremony. “I have just been blessed in my life,” Corrigan said. “I’m very, very grateful.”

The Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award was established to recognize outstanding work for Michigan’s children. The award ceremony came after adoptions of eight children involving five families from three counties — Ingham, Ionia and Oakland — were finalized. About 100 children were adopted statewide on Michigan’s 12th annual Adoption Day late last month.

Corrigan previously served as a judge of the Michigan Court of Appeals and justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for 19 years. She served on the state Supreme Court beginning in 1999, including four years from 2001 to 2005 as chief justice.