LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — The Michigan House of Representatives on Thursday announced new bipartisan task force to focus on reforms in the state’s adoption and foster care systems.
“Michigan’s child welfare system isn’t working for far too many children and families,” Rep. Mary Whiteford, R-Casco Township, who is chairing the task force, said during brief press conference. “We must do better.”
A release announcing the task force said its members would speak with experts, families and children to learn more about how adoption and foster care work now in the state and use that information to improve the system. Among the initial goals are reducing the number of kids in state custody, protecting them from neglect and abuse and joining them with families sooner.
“We as legislators do not have all the answers, but working together with all of our various backgrounds and professions and experiences, I think that we can make some truly bold reforms to keep the children of Michigan safer,” Whiteford said.
The Children’s Services Agency within the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is already running its own steering committee to work on reforms within the child welfare system. That group, which was formed in September, has set a goal of May 2022 to eliminate restraining of children unless absolutely necessary, like during an emergency or to save a life.
The goal is to enact that change by the two-year anniversary of the death of Cornelius Fredericks, a 16-year-old who died after being wrongfully restrained at a group home in Kalamazoo. Three people face manslaughter and child abuse charges in connection to his death.