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MDHHS unveils new strategies that will continue improvements to state’s child welfare system

Judge praises plans to better serve children, families

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today shared newly developed strategies to keep foster youth safe and move the state’s child welfare system closer to exiting federal court oversight.

Judge Nancy G. Edmunds praised MDHHS and the other parties involved for “hard work with still more to come. But we’re starting to see at least flags toward the finish line down the road sooner than we may have anticipated in January.”

MDHHS shared a plan it developed with federal court monitors in the three months since a January court appearance. The department today appeared virtually in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan. Judge Edmunds in January requested the plan to address 14 areas identified by the court as needing improvement.

“With these new strategies we will make substantial progress to improve the performance of the department’s child welfare system,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “More importantly, we believe these strategies will improve safety for children and decrease the time it takes to find permanent homes for youth in the department’s care.”

The strategies are designed to continue to improve the state’s child welfare system in areas such as:

  • Improved collaboration and oversight of private agency partners that provide residential and foster care services.
  • Reducing the time children are in out-of-home care and reunifying them with their families sooner.
  • Keeping siblings placed in foster care together.
  • Limiting the time children spend in emergency or temporary facilities.
  • Ensuring relative home placements are safe.


“We have designated knowledgeable, experienced senior staff to lead the way in implementing these strategies,” said Demetrius Starling, executive director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency. “I am personally committed to working with these

senior staff and the monitoring team to make these improvements for the good of the children and families we serve.”

Federal court monitors have been tracking the department’s progress since a court settlement in 2008 following a 2006 lawsuit.

Today, the court monitors also released their latest progress report, which was for the period of January-June 2021. MDHHS met the court-required performance metrics for 14 commitments monitored during this period, including ones related to caseloads for Children’s Protective Services (CPS) workers and timely completion of CPS investigations. In addition, the report highlights eight commitments in which the department consistently achieved compliance for every monitoring period since the creation of the Modified Implementation, Sustainability and Exit Plan.

To view the latest federal court monitor report and other information, go to

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