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Michigan Findings and Recommendations
Overarching Findings • Weak systems of checks and balances • Labeling in a manner that impacts the entire case process • Gender bias in the system • No sense of urgency to move children to permanency • Different treatment of families of color
Finding/Recommendation 1 Finding 1 Stated mission of the child welfare agency is not reflected in policies and practices with children and families. The actions of its partners do not consistently reflect valuing family of origin. Recommendation 1 Child welfare agency and its systems partners should align their mission and values to reflect a focus on the strengths and inherent value of families for children.
Finding/Recommendation 2 Finding 2 There are several problematic policies and administrative practices: intrinsically, in implementation, and in the lack of monitoring: • Hotline • TDMs • Policy mythology • Misapplication and misinterpretation of legislation/policy (although the agency has sent out clarifying L memos from central office) • Impact of SDM tools • Arresting/criminalizing youth AWOL from foster care system Recommendation 2 Clarify/revise problematic policies and administrative practices to ensure fairness, preservation of rights, accurate implementation, and to control for unintended negative consequences for any group of constituents, especially families of color.
Finding/Recommendation 3 Finding 3 • Resources are often inadequate, inappropriate, and unfairly distributed. • Distribution of resources (services and advocacy) not community based or driven by needs identify in community. • Quality, appropriateness, timeliness, and access to services and resources is poor for children and families in the child welfare system. • Limited ability of workers and clients to provide feedback on contracted services Recommendation 3 Realign distribution of resources, provide resources in a timely manner (rethink court order requirement), develop resources that match community needs, establish close and regular monitoring of resource providers. Increase use of parent partner model. Include parents and youth in advising on policy and practice.
Finding/Recommendation 4 Finding 4 Poor practice Recommendation 4 Establish, operationalize, implement, train, supervise, and test for implementation of a Case Practice Model
Finding/Recommendation 5 Finding 5 Advocacy for parents and children involved in the child welfare system is weak Limited advocacy due to volume of cases, with no accountability to parents or children. Recommendation 5 Strengthen legal representation for parents and child including evaluation component.
Different treatment for Families of Color • Finding six: different treatment for black families • Recommendation:redistribution of resources , contracts, trainings to address this disparity
Promising findings/findings to build on… • Development of police protocol requiring patrol officers to contact DHS to make a collaborative, on-site decision to remove a child from his/her home • Physicians are being certified as child abuse specialists (Children’s Hospital of Michigan). • All 24-hour Intake unit staff have state-issued cellular phones • New phone system at Intake offers the opportunity for DHS to focus on quality assurance. • Uninsured women on obstetrics unit are aided in applying for Medicaid while inpatient.
Promising findings/findings to build on… • Hospital prevention efforts---Home visiting supportive/preventive program instituted by Children’s Hospital of Michigan prior to reporting a family to DHS. St. John’s Hospital makes multiple efforts to assist families with concrete services and provides financial assistance. • Prevention services, including family preservation services—e.g., Families First. • Alternatives to probation. • Consent hearings: admit to minor offenses—record expunged (although positive, there is also the potential for racial targeting on the part of police and probation officers, and there is no treatment requirement). • Correct cause-children and family services/prosecutor
Promising findings/findings to build on… • Plea under advisement—sex offenders can avoid being placed on registry if they complete treatment • Commitment of JDF management, social workers and staff committed • CMOs • JAC/JIF/Case management model