Press Release

Holy Cross Children's Services receives Civic Engagement Grant

holycrosslogo.pngHoly Cross Children's Services receives Civic Engagement Grant

Holy Cross Children's Services (HCCS), one of Michigan’s largest not-for-profit providers of services to children and families across the state, has been awarded a $6,000 grant to support civic engagement activities for youth between the ages of 17-21 who are receiving or have completed independent living services through the agency.

The grant, announced by the Alliance for Children and Families, will allow Holy Cross Children's Services to more effectively engage youth in independent living services programming as advocates with local and state officials and aid in educating the general public about the issues they face. With more than 310 members across the United States and Canada, the private, nonprofit member agencies and organizations of the Alliance for Children and Families represent a significant force in the human services sector. In all, over 3.4 million clients participate in Alliance member services annually.
Sadly, many citizens are completely unaware of the circumstances that these young people face because they are a forgotten segment of a statewide population reeling from economic woes, unemployment and related issues. The HCCS Civic Engagement Project will ideally bring a much sharper focus to the particular topic of youth in independent living, helping the public in general and policy makers specifically to better understand their circumstances and means of assisting them in succeeding. Project plans include face to face visits with members of the Michigan State Legislature, testimony to House and Senate committees, presentations to various civic groups and interviews with local media.

Holy Cross Children’s Services has been serving Michigan children and families since 1948. Today, HCCS operates in 15 communities across the state, serving over 2,700 children each year.

For Immediate Release: April 15, 2010

Contact: Gary Tester
Holy Cross Children's Services

Elizabeth Carey joins Starr Commonwealth’s executive team

ElizabethCarey.jpgALBION, MI – Starr Commonwealth, an internationally recognized nonprofit service provider of strength-based programs for at-risk youth and families, announces the addition of Elizabeth A. Carey as Executive Vice President and Chief Strategy & Administrative Services Officer.

In her new role, Carey will provide leadership for Starr’s strategic direction of investing in its people, as well as help shape the future of Starr’s talent management initiatives and business strategies. Carey has a comprehensive professional background that includes social work, government relations, statewide and national association leadership and operations.

She most recently served as the Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer for the Alliance for Children and Families. She directed day-to-day operations, planned and executed strategic plans, coordinated member recruitment and retention efforts, and helped determine the public policy agenda.

Carey is no stranger to the nonprofit social service sector of Michigan. Before serving in a leadership role at the Alliance for Children and Families, Carey was Executive Director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, a statewide organization located in Lansing for nonprofit social service providers. While at the Michigan Federation, Carey directed the public policy efforts at state and national levels, organized and implemented grassroots advocacy efforts, and represented the federation membership with the legislature and state/federal departments.

“Elizabeth’s experience and knowledge, both on a national and regional level, in nonprofit leadership and social services is an enormous asset to the Starr Commonwealth team,” said Martin L. Mitchell, President and CEO. “We are truly honored to have Elizabeth joining our management team and are excited about what the future holds with her passion for children and commitment to excellence.”

Prior to overseeing the Michigan Federation, Carey was director of governmental relations for the Council on Accreditation in New York City, and began her career as a social worker in Michigan. Carey earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work at Michigan State University.

Elizabeth’s tentative start date will be March 8. She and her family will reside in Jackson, Michigan.

Starr Commonwealth is internationally recognized as a leader in transformational programs for children, families, schools and communities. Founded in 1913, Starr’s treatment philosophy is rooted in seeing something good in every child, which serves as the guiding principle in its strength-based approach. Starr offers a full spectrum of community-based early intervention and prevention services along with specialized residential programs. Through the Starr Institute of Training, parents, clinicians, educators and childcare professionals now have access to Starr’s highly successful and innovative techniques aimed at bringing out the best in every child.

For more information about Starr Commonwealth, please call 800-837-5591 or visit

Levin Honors Spaulding for Children President and CEO as an Angel in Adoption

evin Honors Spaulding for Children President and CEO as an Angel in Adoption WASHINGTON – As president and chief executive officer of Spaulding for Children, Addie D. Williams, LMSW, JD, sits at the helm of an organization with three service entities and one overarching belief – every child is adoptable and every child deserves a permanent family. For her outstanding work on adoption issues, Senator Carl Levin, D-Mich., nominated Ms. Williams as an Angel in Adoption. She will be honored along with more than 185 Angels in Adoption at an awards celebration tomorrow in Washington, DC, sponsored by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CACI).

“I’m proud to nominate Addie Williams as a 2009 Angel in Adoption,” Sen. Levin said. “Through her compassion and leadership she has had a broad and positive impact on the lives of thousands of children and families in Michigan. This award recognizes her years of service on this issue and is just one measure of our appreciation.”

Based in Southfield, Spaulding for Children operates three programs: Child and Family Services, the Spaulding Institute for Family and Community Development, and the National Child Welfare Resource Center for Adoption. With a mission of assuring that all children grow-up in safe, permanent families and have the help they need to be successful in life, Spaulding for Children has been responsible for the adoption of more than 1,000 children, permanency for more than 500 and has trained more than 135,000 persons nationwide in its permanency techniques.

Founded in 1968, Spaulding has remained true to its core values through the years: no child, regardless of age, race or disability is un-adoptable; adoption must be child centered; most people, whether they are family units, childless couples or single parents are capable of providing permanent, nurturing environments for waiting children; agency responsibility does not end with adoption finalization; no fees, other than the court-filing fee, are charged to adoptive parents.

As the president and CEO, Ms. Williams brings years of experience in the child welfare, educational and legal arenas. After receiving her Masters of Social Work in 1976 from Western Michigan University, Ms. Williams began her career in social work as an adoptions worker for the State of Michigan and was instrumental in helping change the state’s view of what children are adoptable. As the adoption coordinator for Wayne County, she facilitated a public/private relationship that resulted in numerous children labeled “hard to place” finding adoptive homes.

Ms. Williams received her J.D. from Wayne State University Law School in 1995 and became an adjunct professor in 2003, teaching classes in social work and the law and child welfare policy. Ms. Williams began her affiliation with Spaulding for Children in 1995 when she provided adoption legal training to the child welfare staff at Spaulding. From 1996 – 2000, Ms. Williams served as vice president at Spaulding and was responsible for all direct services. Ms. Williams became president and CEO of Spaulding in 2000, responsible for the overall operations of the organization. In 2002, Crain’s Detroit Business recognized Spaulding as Best-Managed Nonprofit.

Sen. Levin is a founding member of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption, a bipartisan, bicameral caucus created in 1985, which in 2001 became the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute. CACI is a 501(c)3 nonpartisan organization dedicated to raising awareness about the tens of thousands of orphans and foster children in the United States and millions of orphans around the world in need of permanent, safe and loving homes through adoption. Currently, 184 Members of Congress have joined the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.

The 2009 Angels in Adoption award ceremonies are being held Wednesday afternoon, September 30 in the Russell Senate Office Building, and the evening’s reception and gala will be held at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center in Washington, D.C.

Highfields’ Peck honored by MHBFSA

Highfields’ Peck honored by MHBFSA October 18, 2009 • From Ingham County Community News
ONONDAGA – Gillian (Jill) Peck, director of quality and program development at human services agency Highfields Inc., has earned the 2009 President’s Award from the Michigan Home-Based Family Services Association (MHBFSA). The award recognizes individuals, agencies or families for imnovative contributions to home-based counseling services.

Peck is the fourth Highfields employee to win the award. Other winners from Highfields were Clinical Director Tim Monroe, former CEO Carl Latona and administrative assistant Kris Koivu.

“Jill is a shining example of what makes Highfields so effective at working with at-risk youth and families – its people,” says Brian Philson, Highfields president and CEO.

The MHBFSA aims to strengthen families and communities through the advocacy, education and promotion of family-centered, home-based service delivery.

- From Highfields, Inc.

Local youth featured in new TV movie

A special red carpet screening of "America" will take place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Proceeds will help raise money for St. Peter's Home For Boys. For ticket information and to RSVP, call Everett or Norma Andrews at (313)-846-6942 or e-mail

Michigan Chronicle
By Patrick Keating

Red carpet screening set at Wright museum

gregeverettThe film stars Rosie O'Donnell as a therapist and Ruby Dee as the first foster mother of the main character, a boy named America, who has endured both abuse and neglect in the child welfare system.

According to executive director Gregory Everett, the facility was contacted several months ago, before filming started, by a site location manager affiliated with Sony pictures and Lifetime Entertainment who wanted to do research on residential programs in Detroit. He said the filmmakers learned about St. Peter's by Googling residential agencies in Michigan.

"The basis for that research is so they could get an idea of what a boys' home really looks like," said Everett. "What it feels like, what goes on there. They were doing the legwork to really authenticate the movie since it's about a boy who's been in foster care and residential homes."

He added that the location scouts and some of the assistant producers fell in love with the place. Everett then put the film people in touch with assistant executive director and therapist Crystal Mosby and therapist LeShone Hall, who had a role in the movie as a therapist. Both helped provide information about a therapist's job.

"They actually rewrote a lot of the story based on my assistant executive director and her experiences," Everett said.

In addition to using the building and grounds of St. Peter's Home for Boys as a filming location, (as both the exterior of the movie's residential facility and the site of a nursing home), the filmmakers offered non-speaking roles to some of the boys living there. According to Everett, six or seven of them appear in the film.

St. Peter's has a capacity to house 27 boys, specializing in the 11 to 19 age range, who stay an average of ten months to a year. Everett said those boys referred to St. Peter's are abuse and neglect wards who usually have been through several layers of foster care and/or relative placements that have not worked out.

"So they'll get referred here to have more contained, intensive services," he said, adding that kids St. Peter's sees often come through residential agencies and are often in an emotional upheaval because they've been through several layers in out-of-home placements.

"So we're working through not only doing therapy with them to work through their issues at being removed from home, but also having some of the damage already done by being placed over and over again," Everett said.

Older boys at St. Peter's are prepared for independent living, with help in developing resumés and interviewing for jobs. With younger boys, efforts are made to reunite them with their families if the court deems that is appropriate or to put them into either a foster or adoptive home. Everett said the goal is to return them to the most family-like atmosphere.

Most of the interiors of the film's residential facility were filmed at the old Doorstep shelter in Highland Park, which used to be St. Luke's Hospital. A house in Pleasant Ridge also served as a location.

St. Peter's Home for Boys is located at 16121 Joy Road and has provided residential care for displaced youth since 1950.

A special red carpet screening of "America" will take place at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History on Saturday, Feb. 28, from 7:30 to 11:30 p.m.

Proceeds will help raise money for St. Peter's Home For Boys. For ticket information and to RSVP, call Everett or Norma Andrews at (313)-846-6942 or e-mail

Starr Commonwealth acquires Children's Home of Detroit

starrlogoStarr to carry on legacy of Children's Home

GROSSE POINTE WOODS, MI - Starr Commonwealth and Children's Home of Detroit have agreed to continue the Children's Home's 172-year history of serving children and families. The acquisition, effective Friday, Feb. 6, 2009, makes it possible for the Children's Home of Detroit's mission to live on while allowing Starr to expand its presence in southeastern Michigan.

Children's Home of Detroit closed its residential program in November 2008. Its Board of Trustees voted to transfer the organization's Grosse Pointe Woods and Warren campuses to Starr Commonwealth, a nonprofit children and family services organization headquartered in Albion, Michigan.

"In our long-term strategic planning, we had identified Starr Commonwealth as a gold standard provider of services for children and families and a suitable candidate for affiliation to continue to our own tradition of serving children and families," said Bruce Vande Vusse, President of the Board of Trustees for Children's Home of Detroit. "In the challenging and evolving environment now confronting agencies like ours, we look forward to working with Starr Commonwealth to discover and deliver the highest quality and effective services that can be delivered to make a positive impact on children and their families."

Starr currently manages the care of 600 children daily in Wayne County through an existing collaborative partnership organization called StarrVista, and operates five sites throughout Michigan and Ohio that provide transformational programs for youth, families, schools and communities.

"We are proud that the Children's Home of Detroit is entrusting Starr Commonwealth with their rich legacy of caring for children and families," said Martin L. Mitchell, Starr Commonwealth President and Chief Executive Officer. "We look forward to continuing their work as we pursue early intervention and prevention services, community-based programming and possibly residential alternatives."

Mitchell further stated, "With the current economic crisis being experienced in the State of Michigan and across the country, the demand for children's services will surely increase. Coupled with that, however, is the reality of shrinking resources, so it is therefore imperative that we think through carefully how to best use the CHD assets in service to children and families. We expect that there will be very creative and positive ways to continue the rich traditions of Children's Home of Detroit."

Currently there are no residential programs operated on the Cook Road campus. As Starr evaluates programming options, the National Institute for Trauma and Loss in Children (TLC) will continue to operate with Dr. William Steele overseeing that program.

"Our legacy of having a profound impact on children's lives will now continue well into the future with Starr Commonwealth who for 90 years, have themselves, created positive environments where children flourish," said Steele, Executive Director of Children's Home of Detroit. "We are excited that with Starr we will offer a full array of services for at-risk children in the southeastern Michigan area."

Starr Commonwealth and Children's Home will evaluate what programs may be possible at the Grosse Pointe Campus during the next few months, and local community organizations and community leaders will be engaged in the process.

Starr Commonwealth is internationally recognized as a leader in transformational programs for children, families, schools and communities. Founded in 1913, Starr's treatment philosophy is rooted in seeing something good in every child, which serves as the guiding principle in its strength-based approach. Starr offers a full spectrum of community-based early intervention and prevention services along with specialized residential programs. Through the Starr Institute of Training, parents, clinicians, educators and childcare professionals now have access to Starr's highly successful and innovative techniques aimed at bringing out the best in every child. For more information, visit

For more information about Starr Commonwealth and its programs and services, please call 800-837-5591 or visit

Teen Court Joins Child & Family Services

January 5, 2009

cfscaplogoLANSING— Lansing Teen Court has merged with and become a program of Child & Family Services-Capital Area, agency officials announced today.
Teen Court provides juvenile justice diversion services to over 250 youth per year as referred by the Ingham County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office and Circuit Court—Family Division. Youth charged with minor offenses appear before a jury of their peers, who determine how the youth can repair the harm caused to the victim and community, and what services the youth may need to achieve personal success. Once the youth completes the peer jury’s verdict, the court petition is dismissed and the youth does not incur a formal juvenile criminal record.

Teen Court joins an array of programs at Child & Family Services including adoption, foster care, independent living for youth aging out of foster care, family mental health counseling, adolescent substance abuse treatment, and children’s shelter and advocacy center (Angel House). The merger was finalized after several joint meetings and weeks of due diligence.

“We reached out to Child & Family Services because of their long and successful history serving the youth in our community, their talented management team, and the synergies that this merger portends,” said Teen Court Director Mike Botke. “All of our funding and referral sources are strongly supportive of this development.” Jim Paparella, Child & Family Services Executive Director, echoed that sentiment. “Bringing Teen Court under the CFS umbrella is a great fit for both agencies and was enthusiastically approved by our board of directors,” Paparella said. “We see this as a part of broader strategic vision to increase our capacity to serve vulnerable and at-risk populations in the mid-Michigan community.”

Nick Toodzio is Assistant Principal for Mason High School and serves on the advisory board for Teen Court. According to Toodzio, “Teen court provides ownership of our juvenile justice system among our community’s youth by allowing students to train in their classrooms and serve as peer jurors in a genuine courtroom setting. Teen Court provides restoration for our youthful offenders by educating them in street law, restorative justice, service learning, and family connections. These teens learn that the victims of their offenses are not limited to a single business or individual, but affect their families and the community as a whole." Teen Court’s offices will remain in their Cooley Law School location. The merger did not affect any staff changes.

For more information about Child & Family Services or any of the agency’s programs, call Mary Reed at (517) 882-4000 ext. 126.

Click here to download the press release in pdf: CFS Press Release

WINNER: Nonprofit

From Crain's Detroit Business
By Nancy Kaffer

camhosnerCameron Hosner
Vista Maria
Dearborn Heights

The folks at Vista Maria think big.

“Our mission has always been to serve the most disadvantaged young girls, women and children in the greater Detroit area,” said Cameron Hosner, who has served as executive director of the nonprofit since 1997. “In staying true to that historic mission, we looked at the needs of the 21st century women and children and identified some very critical issues that were emerging.”

Founded in 1883 by the Sisters of the Good Shepard, Vista Maria has been in Dearborn Heights since 1942. In 2007, the agency's revenue was $18 million.

It isn't enough, Hosner said, to treat symptoms. Many of Vista Maria's clients have experienced profound trauma from physical or sexual abuse, he said, and have post-traumatic problems similar to the type developed by combat veterans. Some clients have substance-abuse issues. Some have learning disabilities. Many come from generations of poverty.

To treat the whole person, he said, it is necessary to offer a full continuum of services for the agency's girls and women. And to get the funds to help Vista Maria's clients, it's necessary to have a solid business plan, a proven track record of wise stewardship and the support of the community.

That's where thinking like an entrepreneur comes in.

Last year, the agency launched a five-year initiative, dubbed “Village of Hope,” with the goal of implementing a full array of services and programs. Those include schooling and job training, supplemented by child care that enables the agency's clients to take advantage of those offerings, behavioral health services including substance abuse therapy, and schools that meet the needs of learning disabled students. The initiative is meant to enable clients to break the generational cycles of poverty.

Only by offering comprehensive services, Hosner said, can Vista Maria help its clients make a permanent change in circumstance.

The agency has been able to leverage its track record of success to rally support for the new initiative.

Recent successes include transforming the agency's school into a charter school that clients can continue to attend after exiting the agency, the implementation of a behavioral support program that cut use of restraints by 25 percent and instances of girls harming themselves by 75 percent, the addition of a second, co-educational school, and the launch of a foster care support program that's had documented success in placing kids in long-term residential situations.

The new initiative, Hosner said, is “a cost-effective model that's leveraging off current assets — we've got a charter school, food service, health service ... we have all the assets, we're just leveraging them.”

“(Many clients) didn't have the assets that enabled them to fully sustain gains enabled in treatment,” he said. “In terms of long-term recovery, the statistics were pretty appalling. Fifteen percent of girls and 25 percent of boys end up with some form of criminal justice involvement. Fifty percent of girls would have an episode of homelessness. The most frequent job is fast food. Four years out for girls, 50 percent will have a child, and only 50 percent will finish high school. We need a comprehensive menu that allows them to come all the way out of the dark. We don't want to just give them a flashlight.”

Whaley Children's Center has announced Daryl Vanella as their incoming President/CEO

darylvanellaDaryl earned a Master’s in Counseling from Liberty University and has over 20 years of experience working with at-risk children and families in the fields of mental health, juvenile justice, youth services, and child and family services in both the public and private, nonprofit sectors. He holds clinical certifications and specialties in Cognitive Therapy, Trauma Informed Treatment, and Juvenile Sex Offender Treatment and post-graduate certifications from Cornell University, Michigan State University as well as the University of Michigan in crisis intervention, nonprofit leadership and business management. Welcome to the Federation, Daryl!

Added talent on the Federation staff

kadiKadi Janssen is the new intern at the Federation and is excited to be with us through the spring of 2009. Kadi just graduated with a BSW from Central Michigan University where she double majored in Social Work and Psychology. She is now attending Michigan State University to earn her Master's in Social Work. Kadi is studying organizational and community practice with a strong interest in policy as it relates to social work and child welfare. Kadi anticipates a great year with the Federation and looks forward to getting to know all of you!


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