DETROIT (WWJ) – A report submitted to U.S. Judge Nancy Edmunds states that five years into a court-ordered reform of its foster care system Michigan is still struggling to protect its kids from abuse and neglect.
Lead counsel for the advocacy group Children’s Rights, Sara Bartosz, says some strides have been made but …
” … far too many children are suffering abuse or neglect in foster care itself. And many children are suffering reabuse and neglect in their family home within six months 12 months of the state knowing about them from a prior hotline call and investigation,” said Bartosz.
“The numbers, the rates that Michigan is reporting out from its data systems would have this state a bottom tier player in basic child safety – and by bottom tier – I mean lowest five states among the fifty,” she said.
Bartosz says children deserve safety and care in the system — and hopes to achieve it in the near future.
“You’ve got to stay focused on the hard stuff,” she said.”We are going to start this process and keep pushing for these kids and we are going to stay the course over the long haul, but I’m confindent that we are all going to get there.
The state Department of Human Services accepts the report, but also notes that numerous positive outcomes were acknowledged, including an increase in state adoptions and improved credentials for newly hired staff.
While monitors also noted challenges with DHS compliance in relative care, child placement, worker/child visitation and certain safety outcomes.
Maura Corrigan, DHS director. “We have made a strong effort to meet the standards as laid out in this report, and in the MSA periods that have occurred since. We are also doing standout work with our partners in areas not directly reflected by this or other MSA reports, as we continue critical reform of child welfare in Michigan.”
Judge Edmunds, while noting that significant challenges remain for the department in the days ahead, also went on to say: “I know the state’s goal is to exit from this litigation, but that is an important goal for both sides.”