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Second Report Measuring Michigan's Progress Under Revised Federal Child Welfare Settlement Agreement Submitted to the Court

Federal monitors tell court they "...continue to be impressed by the level of commitment by the current MDHHS leadership team."

LANSING, March 20, 2013 - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has accepted another broadly positive report as part of its modified settlement agreement (MSA) from the federal monitors, presented today in Detroit. The report, filed with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, is the second monitoring report of that MSA.

MDHHS continues to implement its vision for child welfare in the state, and has now taken the next step in the process with this second report measuring MDHHS compliance with the federal child welfare MSA. That agreement reflects many of the department's key initiatives. Substantial compliance with its measurements will eventually allow MDHHS to move to state - rather than federal - oversight.

After hearing from MDHHS, the plaintiffs' attorney and the federal monitors, presiding Judge Nancy Edmunds said: "Let me congratulate the state for a huge amount of progress in so many areas. It's remarkable how much progress has been made since this MSA went into effect in 2011."

Judge Edmunds, while noting that significant challenges remain for the department in the days ahead, also went on to say: "I have confidence that the state is truly committed to meet these goals and will continue to do so."

In their latest report to the court, covering the dates Jan. 1, 2012, through June 30, 2012, the monitors noted the following positive outcomes related to the modified settlement agreement: 

  • The implementation of a statewide centralized hotline for reporting abuse/neglect, which launched in March 2012.
  • Meeting caseload standards for supervisors and staff. 
  • Immediate action for children with a goal of guardianship. 
  • Ensuring health care for older youth exiting state custody. 
  • Established post-adoption resource centers throughout the state.

"This is a good report overall and reflects our vision on the implementation of a wide range of reforms," said Maura Corrigan, MDHHS director. "We are proud of the efforts we are making toward not only meeting our commitments, as spelled out in the MSA, but in going beyond them in building a new and better child welfare system for the state of Michigan."

While the federal monitors found areas where the commitment level expected from MDHHS was not fully reached, in some of those areas the margin between what MDHHS achieved and what was expected was small, as little as 1 percent or less.

Monitors also noted challenges with MDHHS compliance in either immediate or 24-hour commencement of child abuse and neglect investigations during the reporting period. MDHHS agrees that child safety is always a primary concern, but steady improvement has come over the past year. From 2011 to the end of calendar 2012, MDHHS improved its statewide compliance for "immediate" investigations by 13 percent, and for "investigate within 24 hours" by 3 percent. The upcoming statewide launch of the MiSACWIS web-based computer system later this year will help alleviate this situation and improve outcomes even further.

MDHHS, as it continues to move forward in implementing the provisions of the MSA, is also constantly reviewing its own child welfare system and is increasingly aware of the need for:

  • The capacity to monitor our work, identify areas of strength and need, and make corrections as needed while demonstrating to the court and the parties our ability to self-monitor, self-correct, and make substantial improvements in the most critical areas of intervention with the children and families we serve. 
  • Prioritizing our focus of attention to ensure children within our care are safe from harm, have permanency and stability in their lives, and have their needs for well-being identified and addressed.

Michigan's child welfare system came under federal oversight on Oct. 24, 2008 as a result of a lawsuit filed by New York-based Children's Rights. Shortly after taking the MDHHS helm in January 2011, Corrigan and her team began renegotiating the consent decree to focus less on bureaucracy and more on outcomes. The new MSA took effect on July 18, 2011.

To view the latest full report, along with earlier reports and the original modified settlement agreement, please visit