MDHHS enhances work with providers to meet behavioral health needs of children in foster care, juvenile justice systems

Children in the state foster care and juvenile justice systems experiencing a behavioral health crisis will have expanded access to services under a new effort by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

The department is asking congregate care providers to submit plans for placement in their facilities to address the needs of youth who must access mental health stabilization programs — meaning services to stabilize and treat youth dealing with serious mental health concerns, like suicidal thoughts.

“This is an important step forward to ensure that children in the foster care and juvenile justice systems who need mental health stabilization have a place to go to be treated,” said Demetrius Starling, executive director of the department’s Children’s Services Agency. “To do that, we are asking our child-caring institutions to provide the behavioral health treatment youth need before they transition to homes with their parents, relatives or foster families.”

The department has issued a statewide request for proposals for new child-caring institution contracts and will begin implementing the new contracts in summer 2023.

MDHHS has contracts with 31 child-caring institutions to provide 800 beds, however, due to nationwide staffing shortages and other factors, these facilities provide fewer than 500 beds. The changes are expected to improve access to behavioral health services that youth in care need.

The idea of the new contract model is to encourage greater innovation in caring for the unique needs of children in the state’s foster care and juvenile justice systems.

This effort is part of a multi-faceted approach by MDHHS to address a national need for expanded behavioral health services for youth.

The demand is coupled with a nationwide staffing shortage that makes it difficult to provide needed services, which MDHHS is also addressing.

MDHHS contracts with child-caring institutions to provide specialized treatment to youth in foster care or the juvenile justice system. In recent years it has been challenging in Michigan and nationally to find foster care and juvenile justice placements – especially residential therapeutic treatment beds.

Agencies that would like to submit a proposal should go to the “Child Caring Institution – Therapeutic Short-Term Treatment Program” Bid Number 230000000402 at
www.michigan.gov/SIGMAVSS after registering on that website.

For assistance with registration or navigating the site, contact the Office of Financial Management at 517-284-0540 or 888-734-9749 and press “1” on the automated menu, or email SIGMA-Vendor@michigan.gov.

Vendors who intend to submit a proposal and have questions should contact the solicitation manager, Mary Ostrowski, at 517-249-0438 or ostrowskim@michigan.gov.

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