GRAND RAPIDS, Mich (WOOD) — A political stalemate in Lansing has put the future of Kent County’s foster care program in jeopardy.
During recent budget negotiations, West Michigan Partnership for Children was stripped of its $2 million in state funding.
Despite WMPC’s best efforts to convince lawmakers to restore its funding, the nonprofit foster care system will have no choice but to begin transferring its case load back to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services as soon as next week.
MDHHS is the public agency that oversaw the foster care system in Kent County prior to the 2017 launch of WMPC.
Officials with the nonprofit told News 8 not all hope is lost, which is why its supporters and advocates continue to voice their support for the program.
Judge Kathleen Feeney, Chief Judge Pro Tem of the Kent County Circuit Court, says she felt so strong about the program, in an opinion piece published in the Detroit Free Press Monday. In the piece that emphasizes WMPC’s impact on children and families, Feeney shames legislators for allowing kids to become political pawns.
“We can’t have political debate stand in the way of real progress for families and children in our state,” Feeney told News 8.
Since WMPC was created, Feeney said the work of WMPC has helped reunite more kids with their families and helped stop kids from bouncing from one foster home to the next.
“We’re constantly trying to find innovative ways to help families,” Feeney said. “Try to reunify them, try to keep them from being removed in the first place and WMPC is one of the greatest examples of that.”
Longtime foster parent Stacey Goodson is another WMPC advocate, sharing her story in hopes of saving the organization.
“The thing that I really liked the most when WMPC started was the enhanced foster care program that they created and being able to have those services right away without having to wait,” Goodson said.
From providing behavioral specialists to therapists, Goodson says WMPC’s services helped her help her kids, even those who’ve experienced past trauma and abuse.
“As foster parents, there’s only so much that we can do to help and love on them and support them, we need the services as well to help us be able to do it better,” Goodson said.
WMPC continues to call on the governor to restore the funding. To join them in this effort, visit their website.