Gov. Whitmer establishes Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee

LANSING – On Oct. 20, Governor Gretchen Whitmer created the Michigan Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee to review procedures for juvenile residential facilities and make recommendations to improve the system and better serve Michigan’s youth. The committee, housed in the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), will work across state government to implement evidence-based practices in areas of need, explore solutions to increase juvenile access to behavioral health beds, and ensure kids in Michigan’s juvenile justice system have the resources and opportunities to succeed.  

“Michigan must continue to lead on juvenile justice and ensure every kid in Michigan can reach their full potential,” said Governor Whitmer. “The Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee will build on the recommendations of the Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force and take a comprehensive look at residence standards, staff training, case management, and data collection to address the challenges kids in our residential system face. I will continue working hard to keep our communities safe and invest in Michigan’s kids – and their futures.” 

The announcement builds on the work of the Michigan Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force, which recommended the creation of a residential facilities advisory committee. Establishment of the committee demonstrates Governor Whitmer’s commitment to following through with the Task Force’s report and reforming Michigan’s juvenile justice system. 

“I was incredibly proud to chair the Michigan Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force,” said Lt. Governor Garlin Gilchrist II. “Today’s announcement is a step forward in the continuing work of the task force and will help us address critical issues within the juvenile justice system. The committee will bring together experts, advocates, and Michiganders with real lived experience to make a difference for kids. Governor Whitmer and I will work with anyone to build a juvenile justice system in Michigan that works for everyone.” 

“I am passionate about making sure our youth get the support and treatment they need,” said MDHHS Director Elizbeth Hertel. “With the backing of Gov. Whitmer and Lt. Gov. Gilchrist, I look forward to working with everyone on the committee who will play an important part in our joint effort to ensure stable, safe placement for children. At MDHHS, we take very seriously our role in helping all youth receive the best services to address behavioral and mental health needs so they can grow up to realize their potential, achieve their dreams and be productive members of society.” 

“The Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice and the Division of Juvenile Justice (MDHHS) have been working on the residential problems in our state,” said Bob Higgins, Chair of the Michigan Committee on Juvenile Justice.. “It is gratifying to have Governor Whitmer create the Residential Advisory Committee, which was a recommendation of the Task Force on Juvenile Justice, to bring together experts and advocates to craft recommendations for improvements and solutions.”  

“This committee is a vital step forward as Michigan addresses the acute lack of appropriate juvenile residential beds and provides judges critically-needed options for those youth who are in need of a higher level of intervention outside their community,” said Associate Justice Elizabeth Clement. “This crisis is profound, and Michigan must take every possible step to make sure safe and effective placements are available for the long term. Anything less is unacceptable. Most importantly, I stress that funding for such placements is only part of the solution. We must have high, evidence-based standards, a commitment to continuous improvement in quality, ways to measure progress, alternatives to out-of-home placements, and a plan to make sure we are effectively allocating resources to build the nation’s safest, most effective, juvenile residential placement system.” 

The Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee will serve as an advisory body within MDHHS and include the Director of the Department, the Executive Director of the Children’s Services Agency, or their designees, and a representative from the State Court Administrative Office. The committee will also include representatives from the juvenile justice community and residential facilities, prosecutors, defense attorneys, family court administrators, probate or circuit court judges, local governments, tribal governments, mental health advocates, behavioral specialists, and individuals with lived experience in the juvenile justice residential system.  

Individuals who meet the requirements of this committee and are interested in appointment can apply at Click “Apply Now” and select Michigan Juvenile Residential Facilities Advisory Committee. 

The committee will review licensing, staff training, length-of-stay, and case management standards and make recommendations to standardize guidelines and improve procedures throughout the state. The committee will promote evidence-based practices to treat and measure progress towards outcomes for youth in residential facilities and may develop recommendations to support a statewide strategic plan to increase juvenile access to behavioral health beds.