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Gov. Rick Snyder swears in close to 300 new child welfare workers, signs legislation to speed up the process for children to find a "forever home"

Contact: Gisgie Dávila Gendreau, DHS marketing and public relations director, 517-373-7394

May 23, 2011

MADISON HEIGHTS, Mich. Governor Rick Snyder and Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan today solidified their unwavering commitment to children and families by welcoming close to 300 new child welfare workers to DHS and signing legislation that will streamline the adoption process for children in foster care.

"When I took office, I said that job 1 was jobs. I can see that the Michigan Department of Human Services took that to heart by keeping the best and brightest in Michigan to provide direct services to children and families in need," Snyder said.

"I stand here today fully supporting the efforts of Director Corrigan to ensure a Michigan where all children live in safe, loving and stable homes."

"This is truly a great day for DHS, Michigan taxpayers and our children in foster care who are awaiting adoption into a loving and stable home," Corrigan said. "We are committed to our state's most vulnerable children because they deserve no less."

In front of more than 300 state officials, child welfare advocates and newly hired DHS staff, Snyder signed a package of bills that could pave the way for expedited placement in qualified, permanent homes for children in foster care.

Currently, the only person authorized to approve adoptions for children in foster care is the Michigan Children's Institute (MCI) superintendent. Since April 2010, the MCI superintendent has received more than 1,300 such cases for approval.

Under the bills, the superintendent, the legal guardian for children committed to MCI when parental rights have been terminated, may authorize designees to provide written consent to the adoption and guardianship of MCI wards. Designees would be allowed to authorize adoption requests where the child is already living in the recommended adoptive home and a review by a caseworker and supervisor has determined there are no concerns about the placement. Effective May 23, after the Governor signs this legislation, five child welfare directors will initially be designated to make approvals.

Corrigan noted the expedited process will not sacrifice due diligence in the examination of potential adoptive families.

There are currently 14,700 children in Michigan's foster care system. Of those children, about 3,200 have a goal of adoption because they are state or court wards after parental rights were terminated by a court because of abuse or neglect.

The swearing-in ceremony is the culmination of DHS' statewide recruitment effort that led to the hiring of more than 700 highly qualified individuals to work in children's protective, foster care, adoption, juvenile and home licensing services.

DHS partnered with six colleges and universities statewide to reach a diverse pool of applicants in an effort to find - and keep - the best and brightest in Michigan. Director Corrigan especially thanked and commended Dean Gary Anderson of the MSU School of Social Work for his outstanding assistance in designing and implementing the college recruitment process.

"The endeavor puts words into action, demonstrating the unwavering dedication of Gov. Snyder and Director Corrigan to make improvements in the child welfare system," said DHS Acting Child Welfare Director Steve Yager. "By having these highly qualified workers in the field, we ensure that children and families receive the support they need."

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