Posted on December 9th, 2010 No comments
The court-appointed monitor of the Department of Human Services’ 2008 reform agreement issued a report this week that found the department has failed to comply with the court-ordered changes. As a result, on Monday, Children’s Rights threatened to file a motion to hold DHS in contempt and seek the appointment of a receiver to enact the required reforms. According to the report, DHS is working hard to implement the changes required to protect children in foster care, but “their best efforts are often undone by poor planning and lack of adequate coordination.” To use the language of child protection law, without regard to intent, DHS has failed provide the children in its care with proper or necessary support, education, medical, surgical, or other care necessary for their health or morals. In other words, if the state were a parent, the Court would have to take jurisdiction of these children.
Shortly after Children’s Rights indicated they were seeking a receiver, they apparently received a call from the Governor-elect Rick Snyder, who assured them that his incoming administration will make fixing DHS a priority. Based on this, Children’s Rights signaled they were going to hold off on any such request.
I certainly hope Gov. Snyder can improve the state of foster care over at DHS, but I am doubtful. Gov. Snyder ran on a platform of “streamlining” Michigan government. This usually means cutting budgets and that philosophy does not mesh well with the harsh reality that any improvement in Michigan’s Foster Care system is going to cost money – and lots of it. You cannot find “efficiencies” in foster care. In a perfectly efficient world, all parents would adequately care for their children and no state intervention would be necessary.
Whether it is parents or the state paying the bill, every parent knows it costs money to raise a child. The U.S.D.A. reports it now costs an average middle-income American family $222,360 to raise a child from birth to 18, for an average of $12, 353.33 per year. The question one has to ask is whether the political will is there to properly fund Michigan’s foster care system.
You can read the third period monitoring report here.