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MDHHS Receives Federal Title IV-E Waiver For Child Welfare Project

Lansing, October 4, 2012 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) will pilot an innovative program designed to keep "at risk" children ages birth through 5 years in their homes safely, rather than entering the foster care system. The pilot program is made possible by a waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

A Title IV-E waiver allows the department to use federal funds for the federally approved pilot project over the next five years. Michigan is one of nine states chosen for a pilot project waiver starting in 2013. Usually, Title IV-E dollars must be spent for the placement of eligible children into licensed foster care. This waiver permits MDHHS to use a portion of these same funds for innovation that helps prevent the need for foster care.

The heart of the project is applying both prevention and preservation services for families with young children at high risk for abuse and neglect. MDHHS will partner with private agencies and directly engage with families in their own homes to prevent abuse and neglect and to also prevent removal and eventual placement in foster care.

The pilot is expected to launch August 1, 2013, in three counties: Macomb, Kalamazoo and Muskegon. All of these counties have a higher than typical rate of children in the pilot age group having been removed from their homes and placed into foster care.

"Research confirms what most people instinctively know: All things being equal, the best place for children is in their own home with their own family," said Maura Corrigan, MDHHS Director. "Under this federal waiver, the department will use funding to wrap around at-risk families with vital services- keeping children both at home and safe."

The Michigan waiver project uses strength-based engagement with families to build social connections along with knowledge of healthy parenting and child development. Parents will be screened and immediately linked to supportive community services and treatment for substance abuse and mental health needs. The waiver will also make possible trauma screening for children.

The project will allow MDHHS to address the need for longer term services and assistance as part of a prevention plan aimed at keeping families together. All families referred to the new project will be provided in-home and community support services for at least 15 months.

Over the course of this important project, independent third-party evaluations will take place, tracking the overall effectiveness of reaching goals and expected outcomes, and payments to private agencies will be performance based and focused on the outcome for our clients.