ALBION, Mich. (WOOD) — A licensed child welfare facility in Calhoun County is severing ties with a company that, until last month, ran a Kalamazoo County facility that’s now the center of a homicide investigation.
Starr Commonwealth runs Starr Albion Prep with Sequel Youth and Family Services in Albion.
Sequel is the parent company of Lakeside Academy in Kalamazoo, where 16-year-old Cornelius Fredericks was wrongfully restrained by seven staff members and died as a result May 1.
His death was ruled a homicide.
In a statement released by Starr’s CEO Wednesday, the company announced the board “unanimously agreed to end our contract with Sequel Youth & Family Services effective immediately. We now begin the process of doing our best to find an alternative solution to meet the individual needs of each of the 135 children in our care.”
Michigan Department of Health and Human Services confirmed Starr Commonwealth’s decision Thursday. In a statement, the department said:
“The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Services Agency appreciates Starr Commonwealth’s many years of partnership to serve children and youth.Michigan Department of Health and Human Services
We are committed to working with our private agency partners to transform residential care, improve practice and ensure the safety and well-being of Michigan’s children and youth.
Residential services that employ evidence-based therapeutic practices, actively engage youth and families, and keep placements as short as possible play an important role in the child welfare continuum.
Prior to Starr Commonwealth’s announcement, MDHHS already had taken action to place Starr on a provisional license as a result of multiple licensing violations. We made clear that we could not move forward as long as Sequel provided management services.”
A MDHHS spokesperson also explained Starr Commonwealth used Sequel as a vendor and that the state will not place additional children there, with the goal of relocating youth currently at Starr Albion by July 31.
“In response to direction from Gov. Whitmer, MDHHS is taking steps so that Sequel Youth and Family Services will no longer provide services for facilities licensed by our department,” the statement said.
Lakeside Academy and Starr Albion Prep are Sequel’s only Michigan facilities.
In a statement sent to News 8, Sequel said:
“We are very grateful for our long-standing partnership with Starr Commonwealth over the past six years. Together, our organizations have helped stabilize the lives of hundreds of teens while putting them on a pathway to lead healthy and successful lives. While we are deeply disappointed in the board’s decision to end our relationship in light of recent conversations with the State of Michigan, we will do whatever we can to help ensure a safe and smooth transition for our students and staff.Sequel
We are currently working alongside state officials, case workers and resident families to secure appropriate behavioral health program placements for the approximately 135 Starr Albion students currently on campus.
Our commitment to providing informed treatment and ongoing compassionate care to the youth throughout our network remains unchanged, and we continue to be unrelenting advocates for those we serve.”