89.1 WEMU

Michigan's Foster Care System Shows Improvement

Feb 3, 2016

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Credit Courtesy Photo / childrensrights.org

An overhaul of Michigan’s child foster care system is showing results, and the state is moving closer to ending a federal judge’s oversight.   

The national advocacy group Children’s Rights and the state Department of Health and Human Services filed a new settlement agreement with the US District Court in Detroit.  It lifts many compliance requirements the state has to follow.  The Children’s Rights lawsuit was filed 10 years ago.

Children’s Rights says, since then, the state had reduced the number of kids waiting to be adopted, safely reunited more children with their birth families, and provided better training for caseworkers.  “Both parties know that more work is needed, and we view it as a positive that we’ve come to terms on how to get it done,” said Children’s Rights attorney Sara Bartosz. “There is an energy and focus coming out of the negotiations that should propel future reform and, in turn, keep Michigan’s children safe in foster care.” 

The list of issues that need to be fixed include reducing caseloads, ensuring more home visits by social workers, and improving access to medical care.  “We understand we have more work to do,” said Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Director Nick Lyon.  “Now we can devote additional resources to improving safety and well-being outcomes for children and less on continuing to monitor issues that we have already addressed.”

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— Rick Pluta is the Managing Editor and Reporter for the Michigan Public Radio network.  Contact WEMU News at 734.487.3363 or email us at studio@wemu.org