Michigan Selected As Pilot Site For Child Welfare Reforms

Lansing, MI - The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has been selected as one of eight pilot sites nationally to participate in a federal project. The project will help child welfare systems better engage with children and youth and make reforms that will benefit the children and families they serve.

MDHHS will partner with the national Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency. Established in 2021, the center is expected to bring about systemic changes in how child welfare professionals authentically engage children and youth, as reflected in intentional shifts in policy, practice and culture within the pilot sites.

In particular, MDHHS hopes to empower youth to provide more input on finding them a permanent home – either through reunification with their families or adoption if it’s not safe for them to return home.

“MDHHS’ Children’s Services Agency is committed to engaging and collaborating with families to ensure child safety, permanency, and well-being,” said Demetrius Starling, executive director of the agency. “Being a Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth pilot site is an incredible opportunity to help staff promote and support authentic engagement and empowerment of children and youth. This work will be a catalyst for producing system-wide change that will benefit the families we serve in Michigan.”

Through September 2026, MDHHS will receive support and resources from the Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth in Finding Permanency, which is funded through a federal grant provided by the Children’s Bureau, Administration for Children and Families of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Michigan will receive funding, resources and technical assistance for the next four years for this project.

The goal is to embrace the voice of youth in all aspects of the system of care.

The seven other sites selected so far are Hawaii, Montana, Nebraska and Rhode Island, Indiana, the Oklahoma Southern Plains Consortium and the Yakama Nation.

Along with the other pilot sites, MDHHS will work in partnership with the Quality Improvement Center on Engaging Youth during the next four years to:

  • Identify, implement and evaluate a program model for authentic child and youth engagement.
  • Implement additional child welfare training and coaching for the child welfare workforce, including MDHHS staff.
  • Identify and implement systemic changes.
  • Partner with courts to implement a training for court professionals and staff.

The counties participating in the project as intervention sites are Mecosta, Monroe, Muskegon, and Oakland. Outcomes for children in the pilot locations will be compared with outcomes for children in other counties that are not pilot locations.

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