House task force issues suggestions for improving child welfare system

Michigan

LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — A group of lawmakers from the Michigan House on Wednesday released the findings of a study into how to support and improve the child welfare system.

The bipartisan House Adoption and Foster Care Task Force, created in February, held listening sessions across the state with those who work in the system and other professionals to determine how to better serve families and children and how to find permanent homes for children in foster care.

The recommendations that came out of those listening sessions include making sure there is adequate support to help foster families and getting vouchers for Children’s Protective Services workers to help cover food and clothing needs in the immediate aftermath of the state taken custody of abused, neglected or trafficked children.

There was also an emphasis on the legal aspect of the system, including developing a pilot program for foster children to have legal representation and expanding court-appointed special advocates statewide.

State Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Allegan, the chair of the task force, said some of the priorities in the report are already being addressed in the most recent budget. Legislation to accomplish other goals of the group will be introduced in the coming weeks.

“Every child deserves a loving family, and those who adopted a child in need deserve our support and admiration,” Whiteford said in a statement.

At a media event in Lansing, she went on to emphasize the necessity of supporting children who need help.

“We want to make sure that this becomes the most important thing we talk about: How do we look out for these kids? How do we make sure they have certainty and safety as they grow up? And if they have been through trauma, which every single one of them has, let’s do whatever we can to buffer those children’s heads to make sure they are resilient,” she said.

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