News from Members

New adoption office in Grand Rapids

LASlogoLutheran Adoption Service (LAS), a partnership between LSSM and Lutheran Child and Family Service of Michigan (LCFS), had opened an office in the Grand Rapids area. LAS staffer Christopher Fisher is working from the new LCFS office at 1715 Sutherland Drive SE, Kentwood, MI 49508. The phone number is (616) 281-4706, fax is (616) 281-4696, and email is

Welcome Hands Across the Water

HandsAcrosstheWaterlogoThe Michigan Federation Board of Directors was very pleased this week to unanimously approve the application for Full Membership from Hands Across the Water, a private, nonprofit agency based in Ann Arbor. The agency, led by Director Kathleen Nelson, provides both domestic and international adoption, education and foster care services. Please visit for more information. Welcome to the Federation Kathleen!

Jim Scherrer presents Senator Stabenow with Advocate Award

ScherrerStabenowDCJim Scherrer, Executive Director of Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, attended the Child Welfare League of America National conference last week in Washington DC and presented Senator Stabenow with the CWLA Congressional Advocate of the Year award.

Wedgwood Institute offers trainings that qualify for SW CECHs

Wedgwood Christian Services recently announced the formation of the Wedgwood Institute, whose purpose is to provide top-quality opportunities for Lifelong Learning to agency employees, clinical professionals and others in the West Michigan community and throughout the state. Wedgwood Institute will offer a diverse range of topics designed to deepen understanding and strengthen the quality of responses to the needs of children, clients and customers. The Institute’s offerings are aimed at four basic audiences: Wedgwood employees; clinical professionals—providing advanced-level training to therapists, social workers, psychologists and others required to earn CEs; community-oriented education; and management and leadership. See what’s available by clicking here. Two trainings are scheduled for this fall:

➢  September 19: Trauma Treatment with Adolescents (5 CECHs, Course Approval #031607-03)
➢  November 14: Substance Abuse Prevention: A Community Collaborative Approach (CECHs pending)
Download the brochure using this link: Wedgwood Institute Sep 19 and Nov 14 trainings

For more information or to bring Wedgwood training to your agency/area, contact Vito Lentini, MS, Assoc. Dir., Staff Development at Wedgwood Christian Services, (616) 831-5642,

July 20: "Grant Writing is Elementary" offered by Judson Center

Below is a registration form for the upcoming training on Grant Writing is Elementary offered by Judson Center. This training is appropriate for BMSWs, SSTs and LMSWs. For additional information, visit for upcoming trainings.This program is approved by the Michigan Social Work Continuing Education Collaborative for 5 CE Clock Hours. Course approval is # 052907-03. JudsonGrantWritingTrainingJudson Center is an approved provider of Continuing Education (CE) in the State of Michigan and is excited about providing CEs for professionals in the field of Social Work. They believe that professional development is critical to providing quality and competent services to the consumers we work with. They also believe that quality training needs to be affordable.

Grantees announced for Homeless Youth Housing Initiative

MSHDA has announced the grantees of $3 million to provide up to two years of tenant-based rental assistance targeted to homeless youth. Congratulations to Federation member Family Counseling & Children's Services of Lenawee County whose $311,000 grant will serve approximately 30 youth in Jackson, Lenawee and Washtenaw Counties. Click here for the full announcement.

Mandated Reporter of Suspected Child Abuse Information

There are often issues of school personnel and other mandated reporters' obligation to report suspected child abuse to Children's Protective Services. The Chance at Childhood Program at MSU has put together this very brief, excellent resource brochure for school personnel about reporting suspected child abuse and neglect. They will be putting out similar brochures for other mandated reporters, but, in the meanwhile, this brochure is appropriate for any mandated reporter.

Christ Child House receives Organizational Excellence Award

Congratulations to Christ Child House Executive Director John Yablonky and staff who were recipients of the Youth Sports & Recreation Commission's Leonard W. Smith Award for Organizational Excellence for Outstanding Service to Children and Families. Having been runner up for the award in three prior years, CCH is especially appreciative of the foot-tall glass sculpted award, oh, and the $2,500 that came along with it December 6. Great job! The agency also received positive publicity through last fall's MPR story, which featured a Christ Child House youth for whom an adoptive home is being sought. Click here to hear the audio stream from Michigan Public Radio.

Entering a new era

For more than 136 years, Child & Family Services of Saginaw County has offered help to women, children and families. With new leadership this year, agency officials hope to continue and strengthen its role in the community so it can help people for 136 more years.

A staggered change in leadership allowed for a smooth transition as Margie M. Bach took over as chief executive officer this week. Former CEO Betty L. Nagel will retire as president of the nonprofit social work agency on May 31.

Bach, 34, former director of development and operations, will take over the presidency June 1.

"We'll split the duties for now and that will allow me to take care of some things while Margie learns," Nagel said. "When I started almost 18 years ago, I had to do the transition myself."

Nagel, 59, has led the agency since 1989, when she took over for Jack Frye, who led the agency for 27 years. She'll continue to lead fundraising and marketing efforts until June.

Bach has worked at the agency since 1999, when she began as supervisor of the sexual assault program. She became director of development and operations in 2005.

The offices at 2806 Davenport in Saginaw are receiving a face-lift with new paint and furniture, its first renovation since the Davenport location opened 12 years ago. The agency was based on Michigan before that, but its roots go back much farther.

A group of Saginaw lumber baron wives started the Home for the Friendless and Industrial School in 1870, incorporating the first incarnation of what would become Child and Family.

"They felt responsible and wanted to help with food, clothing and shelter," Nagel said

By the 1890s, the effort turned to orphans and the women renamed their charity the East Saginaw Children's Home. The Children's Home continued until the 1950s, she said. Then the focus changed from institutional care to finding foster homes for children. The agency was involved in child welfare, foster care and adoptions through the 1970s, Nagel said.

Leaders also began counseling parents and children in these years as they saw the need develop with adoptions. In 1968, the Children's Home merged with The Family Society, another nonprofit agency.

Child & Family Services of Saginaw County was created in 1964. Today, the agency provides individual and family counseling for emotional and behavioral health issues, employee assistance services under contract to area employers and comprehensive services for victims of sexual assault and abuse.

The agency has 33 staff members and an annual budget of $1.05 million. In 2005, they served 5,677 people.

The United Way of Saginaw County provides allocated funding for some services, while state and federal grants provide funding for sexual assault services, which are free to clients.

Nagel was a manager at Westlund Guidance Clinic in Saginaw and worked in substance abuse treatment before coming to Child & Family Services.

"We were providing counseling here, but weren't receiving reimbursement from most insurance companies and not serving the whole community," she said.

Under her leadership, the counseling staff grew and now includes two consulting psychiatrists. Staff members work with about 600 people in individual counseling.

A new community outreach coordinator works with patients who don't have health insurance. They pay a $15 copay per counseling session. United Way funds cover the difference.

"We want to promote that position this year and our support groups for depression and children of divorce, which are free or at reduced rates," Bach said. "We have to be creative in how we offer services."

The average length of care for outpatient counseling at Child & Family is 14 sessions, Nagel said.

The agency no longer contracts with Saginaw County Community Mental Health for clients, as funding there has limited outpatient counseling. That has reduced the patient load, but may have increased the flexibility of what the staff can offer, she said.
"We have stopped and started a lot of programs, but we try to respond to the needs of the community."

Bach was one of seven candidates to lead Child and Family Services. She is developing a plan for the future.

"We need to find out what we do well and focus on that. We do amazing work with trauma here. Then we need to promote our mission to the community. People still don't always know what we do."

People who need help getting through trauma and transition in life -- loss of a relationship, a job or health -- need to know how to seek counseling, she said.

"Therapists don't have the answers; you have them. You make the decisions, but we can help you get unstuck."

In today's uncertain economy, this nonprofit agency will continue to examine its role and evaluate its services, Bach said.

"We want to make sure we're here another 136 years and helping build better lives."

Jill Armentrout is a health writer and Neighbors coordinator at The Saginaw News. You may reach her at 776-9681.

CFSNWMi editorial on State's child welfare crisis

Published in this week's Northern Express newsweekly:

Alarm Bells Ring for Child & Family Services
Jim Scherrer

Child and Family Services is at a critical crossroads.
Throughout our 70-year history in northwestern Michigan, our primary work has been to protect and support abused and neglected children. We do this by providing parent education and other in-home services to their families, training and licensing foster families to provide temporary homes for them when it is vital to their safety to live away from their families, and through counseling and other services based on children's individual needs. We provide these services through a contract with the State of Michigan.

As the State experiences severe, ongoing financial and policy challenges, Child and Family Services increasingly finds that State contracts do not cover the costs of providing foster care services, particularly at the level of excellence to which we are committed. The dollars we raise through fundraising are now directed to meeting those costs--funds that we previously directed to extra opportunities for the growth and development of the people we serve. And still it is not enough.
The broken condition of our state foster care system has drawn the attention of the national organization Children's Rights. In August of this year, Children's Rights filed a class action lawsuit against the state of Michigan for its alleged failure to protect the rights of children. The Detroit News recently weighed in with an editorial imploring the state to step up to its responsibility to make vulnerable children and families a priority.
It is time to ask ourselves the question: Are we as a society, despite financial challenges that face us, willing to pay the reasonable costs of providing important human services to children and families in need?
The State of Michigan operates the nation's seventh largest foster care system, with about 19,000 children. Yet Michigan ranks in the nation's bottom 12 states in the ratio of state and local dollars to federal dollars directed to the care of these children.
Last year, Child and Family Services and other child welfare organizations, under the umbrella of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, asked the Michigan legislature for an increase in reimbursement rates to address the appalling, chronic underfunding of the care of children in the foster care system.
The legislature agreed that we needed an increase. But the one it approved amounted to 92 cents a day per child.
Now, our financial foundation is in jeopardy.
Why should you care? Why are our services important to you?
There are three gears of the economic engine that drives our state: government, the for profit business community, and nonprofit organizations. The nonprofit sector provides the human services so many of us, our friends, and our neighbors require. But the sector also provides an increasing number of jobs, about 380,000 in Michigan today, making it the fifth largest industry for employment in the state. It brings our communities art and music and land conservation and higher education--things that help create a quality of life that many of us appreciate and seek out for ourselves and our families.
At this time of year, it's appropriate to consider, as George Bailey did in the Christmas classic, "It's a Wonderful Life." What would things be like if we, Child and Family Services, didn't exist? What would happen if our doors closed as a result of this crisis?

Our community will need to find foster care services for 450 or so children each year.
Dozens of children treated for sexual abuse will no longer have those free services available to them and their families.
Hundreds more people will lose access to subsidized counseling services they need to surmount life's challenges -- which in hard times affect families even more.
Fewer families will receive the treatment and support they need to overcome the crises they face.
Fewer children with trauma in their past will be able to overcome the cycle of violence, and will be less likely to become productive members of their communities.
Without adequate treatment and support, more abused and neglected children will grow up and turn to violent or antisocial behaviors.
More of them will go to jail. And they will cost taxpayers -- and society -- more money in the long term than the amount we need to weather this storm.

No. Closing our doors is not the answer. We ask instead for your help.
Please help us meet the challenge of providing quality human services to thousands of people each year by remembering us for your charitable giving this year. Please advocate for quality services like those we provide to your legislators. Ask them to make children and families a top priority for state funding.
We simply can't do it without you.
From our "family" to yours, happy holidays. We hope you will celebrate safe in the knowledge that you made a real difference in your community this year.

"The test of the morality of a society is what it does for its children." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer


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