State Rep. Rodney Wakeman speaks during a press conference today to unveil a report compiled by the bipartisan House Adoption and Foster Care Task Force. The report includes recommendations on how to better serve vulnerable children in Michigan.
State Rep. Rodney Wakeman of Saginaw Township today unveiled a report compiled by the bipartisan House Adoption and Foster Care Task Force after months of meetings with stakeholders, experts, and the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS).
Recommendations include changes to improve access to health care for foster children and youth in the juvenile justice system, provide expecting mothers with critical resources, better support family members who step up to care for relatives entering the foster system, and remove unnecessary licensing burdens for foster homes. Several of the recommendations were already incorporated into the state budget for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1. Others will be introduced in the House in the coming weeks.
“The work we did through the task force was eye-opening,” said Wakeman, who also chairs the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “We spoke with families, local organizations and the workers on the front lines to gather a better understanding of the foster care and adoption system and learn what things are not working well, what approaches are successful in other states and what changes can help make kids and families in Michigan more successful.”
Task force recommendations already implemented in the state budget include:
- Helping local foster care closets clothe foster youth and support families in need.
- Providing a significant increase in funding for grants to support foster parents who need to make home improvements.
- Establishing a county pilot program structured around high-quality legal representation for child protective proceedings.
- Providing vouchers for CPS caseworkers to use when fulfilling immediate needs, such as food or clothing, for children who have been abused, neglected or trafficked.
- Expanding services of court-appointed special advocates statewide.
- Funding an actuarial study on the creation of a specialty foster care health plan in Michigan.
- Providing a historic rate increase of $9 per day for private agency foster care.
Joining Wakeman and other task force members at a press conference were independent adoption and foster care advocacy groups and stakeholders like The New Foster Care, Michigan Court-Appointed Special Advocates, Michigan Federation for Children and Families, New Light Child & Family Institute, and St. Vincent Catholic Charities.
“The New Foster Care thanks the task force for their efforts to help change the trajectory of Michigan’s children in foster care. They are the most disadvantaged population in Michigan, and it is critical that we make them a focus,” said Chris Yatooma, board president for The New Foster Care. “We appreciate the opportunity to partner with the task force and look forward to their recommendations being implemented.”
The full report issued by the bipartisan Adoption and Foster Care Task Force can be viewed here.
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