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Keep Kids Safe Action Agenda

The Keep Kids Safe Action Agenda includes dozens of protocols and policies to improve the safety and well-being of Michigan children.

The action agenda incorporates updates to the department’s work to keep Michigan kids safe. Developed over the course of more than four years, the agenda relies on best practices in child welfare and commits the department to the nation’s highest standards. The action agenda will evolve as new research and data is released to keep kids safe from harm.

The action agenda highlights the steps MDHHS has taken and will continue to take that can be separated into five categories – prevention, intervention, stability, wellness and workforce. Actions include:

    • Investing millions of dollars to create more Family Resource Centers, allowing Michigan to become one of only five states to receive the Child Safety Forward grant from the federal Office of Victims of Crime. This project focuses on reducing and preventing child deaths that result from crime. The number of family resource centers recently expanded by five for a total of 11 in local communities.
      • Family Resource Centers work with families that are at-risk of abuse and neglect to meet their needs sooner and strengthen their protective factors.
    • Improving the process for handling reports of suspected child abuse and neglect to the state’s toll-free hotline – 855-444-3911 – by creating a structured decision-making tool that better guides hotline staff.
    • Developing firearm safety protocols to provide guidance for child welfare staff to talk with families about firearm safety.
      • That includes creating a website with information about where families can get free trigger locks and appropriating $2 million to support initiatives related to misuse of guns, including trigger locks and other available options.
    • Expanding home visits by nurses and other professionals to proactively identify and help families who may benefit from better parenting strategies and coping skills.
    • Piloting a vulnerable children protocol in various counties that provides additional safety reviews of cases in which the child has bruises and is too young to fully speak for himself or herself.
    • Analyzing data in partnership with Chapin Hall at the University of Chicago to determine which families are most at risk so the department can provide services sooner for the well-being of children.
    • Securing approximately $50 million in prevention services annually to better serve at-risk families.
    • Working with the State Legislature to make it easier for caregivers to determine whether another caregiver for their child is on the state’s Central Registry for child abuse and neglect. A new law, referred to as Wyatt’s Law, was signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer in May 2022.
    • Developing an intervention tool that requires regular communication with caseworkers and their supervisors during key points of an investigation.
    • Working with stakeholders and partners in the Legislature in supporting the child welfare system. MDHHS continues to identify policy changes to increase child safety. Some of these changes may include improved data sharing between behavioral health, substance use disorder service providers, domestic violence providers, and the child welfare system.
    • Learning more from child deaths by participating in multi-disciplinary child death review teams that involve MDHHS, prosecutors, law enforcement, medical professionals and others.
    • Establishing regional placement units that help identify appropriate living arrangements for youth to ensure they are in the most family-like settings or settings that can best meet their treatment needs. 
    • Creating the Bureau of Children's Coordinated Health Policy & Supports within MDHHS to improve and build upon coordination and oversight of children's behavioral health services and placement of children with complex needs.
    • Creating an executive committee that provides support and accountability to service providers in the child welfare system that are not meeting expectations. This committee provides an opportunity for leaders in various administrations within MDHHS to holistically review the work of agencies and recommend interventions to ensure child safety.
    • Holding child-caring facilities accountable and limiting the use of dangerous restraints across Michigan following the death of 16-year-old Cornelius Fredrick in a Kalamazoo facility after he was wrongfully restrained.
    • Launching ChildStat, a quality improvement process to make systemic changes to the state’s child welfare system. ChildStat strategies include providing support for relatives so children can be placed with them instead of in group residential facilities.
    • Developing a pilot program to embed one of our eligibility specialists with our child welfare team to more easily provide immediate support to families, including access to Medicaid enrollment, food assistance, childcare subsidies, and other resources.
    • Increasing funding for stronger basic needs to ensure families have access to adequate food, housing and utilities.
    • Increasing access to quality mental health services to help families meet their needs.
    • Implementing a pilot project to work with local Community Mental Health agencies to connect families with mental health services as soon as children enter foster care.
    • Implementing a standard behavioral health assessment for children across the state entering the mental health system or the child welfare system by Dec. 31, 2023. Children too often wait days or weeks for an assessment to identify what treatments they need, if any. MDHHS is developing a customized statewide version of the assessment tool Child and Adolescent Needs and Strengths (CANS) so children can be seen, wherever they are, by clinicians who specialize in working with children.
    • Adopting a goal of ultimately expanding mobile crisis care across the state for all populations. $3.5 million in grants were recently given to local community mental health service providers to expand intensive crisis stabilization services for young people who are experiencing emotional symptoms, behaviors, or traumatic circumstances that have affected their ability to function.
    • Working with partners to pass PA 402 of 2020, creating Crisis Stabilization Units to provide an alternative to ER and psychiatric inpatient admission for people who can be stabilized through treatment and recovery coaching within 72 hours. $32 million was included in the last state budget, for 11 pilot units launching this summer.
    • Creating 13 new Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinics through a federal program to bring CCBHCs – offering comprehensive and coordinated behavioral health services – to all Michiganders, regardless of their insurance, ability to pay, place of residence, or age. These clinics offer 24/7 mobile crisis response and medication- assisted treatment for substance use disorders.
    • Implementing proven training practices known as motivational interviewing that provide all child welfare staff with enhanced engagement and assessment skills. Motivational Interviewing is a new technique to encourage more engaging questions and allow for enhanced information sharing with the family, which can help identify the appropriate services and support for the family. Forty-nine counties have been trained so far.
    • Improving the quality of ongoing safety planning training for Children’s Protective Services workers and supervisors. Safety plans include actions that families and people who support them are willing to take to prevent or respond to child safety or risk issues.
    • Developing an ongoing quality assurance unit focused on providing independent feedback to investigators to improve investigation quality.
    • Improving safety in group residential facilities by:
      • Developing the Residential Collaboration and Technical Assistance Unit.
      • Partnering with the nationally recognized Building Bridges Initiative to provide training and technical assistance to congregate care providers to improve safety; and
      • Implementing weekly reviews of group residential facilities to assess safety and risk using data.
    • Completing multiple real-time reviews of physical abuse cases to evaluate safety planning and ensure decision-making was appropriate.
    • Making a policy change to document details about what is discussed during case conferences between a CPS worker and supervisor.