Press Release

Marlee Matlin speaking at Starr's 95th anniversary

marleematlinALBION, MI - Fresh on the heels of her recent "Dancing with the Stars" appearance on ABC, award-winning actress Marlee Matlin has agreed to speak at Starr Commonwealth's Founder's Day to be held Oct. 5, 2008.

Through American Sign Language and the assistance of her personal interpreter, Matlin will address the audience of students, staff, families and friends of Starr Commonwealth as the organization celebrates its 95th anniversary.

Matlin is an Academy Award winner for her role in "Children of a Lesser God," which also happened to be her film debut. She is the first deaf actress to receive the Academy Award and one of only four distinguished actresses to do so with her film debut. Along with her Oscar, Matlin has won a Golden Globe and has been nominated numerous times for Emmy and People's Choice awards for her television roles, including "Seinfeld," "The Practice" and more. Guest star roles on "The West Wing," "My Name is Earl" and "Desperate Housewives" have contributed to Matlin's stardom and celebrity status.

A mother of four and deeply passionate about children, Matlin has hosted several educational and children's programs and appeared in Disney's "Adventures in Wonderland," "Nickelodeon's "Blues Clues" and "Baby Wordsworth," part of the "Baby Einstein" series aimed at teaching sign language to infants and toddlers. She is also the author of a series of children's books.

Matlin also is a close personal friend of Henry Winkler, last year's celebrity speaker, who has been supportive of Matlin and her career since her childhood.

"Marlee Matlin certainly has taken what some might perceive as a disability and has spoken volumes with her courage and tenacity," said Starr Commonwealth President and CEO Martin Mitchell. "She is such an inspiration to her fans and people around the world. We are very fortunate to host Ms. Matlin during our 95th anniversary."

Founder's Day is held the first Sunday of every October at Starr Commonwealth's Albion campus. The even is free and is open to the public. It marks the anniversary of founder Floyd Starr, his family and 13 boys moving into Gladsome Cottage on Oct. 3, 1913.

Starr Commonwealth is a nationally recognized children and family services nonprofit licensed by the States of Michigan and Ohio and accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. The organization serves more than 4,000 children, families and professionals through strength-based residential and community-based programs in Albion, Battle Creek and Detroit, Michigan, and Van Wert and Columbus, Ohio. Services range from specialized treatment programs, treatment foster care, day treatment, mental health therapy, substance abuse and private therapeutic residential treatment. Starr also offers a variety of training for professionals working with youth.

"Please save the date of Oct. 5 on your calendars and plan to join us for what is going to be another exceptional Founder's Day," President Mitchell said.

For more information, please call 800-937-5591 or visit www.starr.org.

Chuck Jackson joins the executive team at Starr Commonwealth

chuckjacksonDETROIT - William "Chuck" Jackson has been appointed Executive Vice President and Chief Program Officer, joining the senior leadership team of Starr Commonwealth, one of the leading non-profit, child and family services organizations in the state.

Jackson had been serving as Vice President of Community Based Programs since 2005 and Director of Starr Commonwealth's Detroit programs since 2001. He will remain Executive Director of StarrVista, a care management organization serving the at-risk and delinquent population of youth residing in northwest Detroit and Dearborn Heights, a collaboration between Starr Commonwealth and Vista Maria.

His appointment was approved during Starr Commonwealth's Board of Trustees meeting held July 10. In his new role, Jackson will set the direction and oversee all Starr Commonwealth programs at the organization's five locations in Michigan and Ohio, including the many programs and youth services provided to children and families in the greater Detroit area.

Jackson joined Starr Commonwealth in 1988 and has served troubled youth and their families in the Detroit metropolitan area with Starr for the past 20 years. Chuck has dedicated his career to serving children and youth and has served in a variety of leadership positions during his tenure at Starr, including case manager, senior clinician and several administrative roles. He also has been a pioneer in developing unique programs, such as Starr Detroit's Supervised Independent Living, Residential Transitional Reintegration Support programs and most recently a Substance Abuse program.

"Chuck models the core values on which Starr Commonwealth was built. He strives to help children and families and embodies all the characteristics of servant leadership, including integrity, excellence, compassion and faith." said Martin L. Mithcell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Starr Commonwealth. “We, and the youth of Detroit, are fortunate to have benefited from Chuck's dedication, which is exactly why he has been selected as a leader in our organization."

In addition to his service at StarrVista and Starr Commonwealth, Chuck has been committed to the residents of Detroit as board member of the Board of Manhood, Inc. (a male mentorship program), mentor to 4th, 5th and 8thgraders in the Detroit Public Schools and a part-time professor of Sociology at Washtenaw Community College. He has co-facilitated seminars for the Institute for the Healing of Racism, is a member of the Birmingham-Bloomfield Task Force on Racial Diversity and is a certified facilitator for Starr's Healing of Racism. He also is a 2007 graduate of Leadership Detroit, a program designed for senior level executives to hone their skills and knowledge of the region.

Chuck is a 1988 graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor's of Science degree in Sociology. He earned his Master's of Arts degree from Wayne State University in 1994 and is working to complete his Doctoral degree in Sociology from Wayne State University.

"I'm looking forward to continuing to serve youth and families through this new role with Starr Commonwealth," Jackson said. "There are a lot of big things happening with our Detroit programs and I'm proud to be a part of an exciting future focused on the well being of children."

Founded in 1913, Starr Commonwealth is a nationally recognized children and family services nonprofit licensed by the States of Michigan and Ohio and accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. The organization serves more than 4,000 children, families and professionals through strength-based residential and community-based programs in Albion, Battle Creek and Detroit, Michigan, and Van Wert and Columbus, Ohio. Services range from specialized treatment programs, treatment foster care, day treatment, mental health therapy, substance abuse and private therapeutic residential treatment. Starr also offers a variety of training for professionals working with youth.

Starr Commonwealth's Detroit office, 22400 W. 7 Mile Road, offers community-based services to youth through Structured Transitional Living (STL), Supervised Independent Living (SIL), foster care, substance abuse treatment, and services for adjudicated youth transitioning back into their homes and communities.

For more information, please visit www.starr.org or call the Detroit office at 313-794-4447.

Hugh Kocab accepts new position within Starr Commonwealth

HughKocabVAN WERT, OHIO - Hugh Kocab, longtime resident and a very active member of the Van Wert area community, has accepted a new position with Starr Commonwealth as Director of Peer Group Training.

Kocab has served Starr Commonwealth for the past 15 years in a variety of roles, including Senior Clinician, Assistant Director and most recently as Campus Director in Van Wert for the past 10 years.

He has extensive background in Starr's strength-based treatment philosophy and Positive Peer Culture. He also has been instrumental in the creation and development of Montcalm School for Girls. Under his leadership, the girls program has achieved excellent outcomes for young women and their families.

"We know Hugh's daily presence will be missed in Van Wert, but we are excited about the opportunity to utilize his talents and expertise at an organizational level to impact the lives of even more children," said Martin L. Mitchell, President and Chief Executive Officer of Starr Commonwealth.

Prior to joining Starr Commonwealth, Kocab honed his skills through his work with United Methodist Children's Home in Worthington, Ohio, and in Virginia where he helped implement Positive Peer Culture into Jackson Field Home.

Since his arrival in Van Wert in 1993, Kocab has been highly visible and involved in the community as a member of various civic and local organizations, including Van Wert Elks, Rotary and Van Wert Area Jaycees.

Kocab will join Starr's Research, Evaluation & Training team in Albion, Michigan on Sept. 22. He will officially complete his work in Van Wert on Aug. 29 and will begin relocating with his family to Michigan. You are encouraged to send your best wishes and support to Hugh by calling Starr Commonwealth's Van Wert campus at 419-238-4051.

Vice Presidents Randy Copas and Tom Tate will temporarily lead the Van Wert campus until a new Director is selected.

Founded in 1913, Starr Commonwealth is a nationally recognized children and family services nonprofit licensed by the States of Michigan and Ohio and accredited by the Council on Accreditation of Services for Families and Children. The organization serves more than 4,000 children, families and professionals through strength-based residential and community-based programs in Albion, Battle Creek and Detroit, Michigan, and Van Wert and Columbus, Ohio. Services range from specialized treatment programs, treatment foster care, day treatment, mental health therapy, substance abuse and private therapeutic residential treatment. Starr also offers a variety of training for professionals working with youth.

For more information on Starr Commonwealth, visit www.starr.org or call 800-837-5591.

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Highfields CEO to lead Juvenile Justice bureau

jevansHighfields Inc. President/CEO John Evans has been named director of the Bureau of Juvenile Justice with the Michigan Department of Human Services. Brian Philson, former Highfields vice president of programming, has been named interim president/CEO.

"John has been an outstanding leader and visionary for Highfields with his views on public policy and public sector partnerships," said Debra Fedewa, chair of the Highfields board of directors. "The fact that Bureau of Juvenile Justice has recognized John's contributions is a testament to the valuable work he has accomplished at Highfields. His experience will be an asset to the state and, more importantly, its services to children."

During his tenure, Evans helped Highfields expand programming to better serve at-risk children and families throughout mid-Michigan and the state. Programs such as the Ingham Academy and Alternatives for Youth and new after-school offerings were launched.

"John brings to us a wealth of knowledge both in the public and private sector," said Kathryne O'Grady, deputy director for the Michigan Department of Human Services. "We have a great amount of respect for the work he did at Highfields."

Philson, former director of the Jackson County Youth Center, joined Highfields in July 2006. He has been recognized nationally for his work within juvenile justice, including the 2007 Individual Award for Excellence from the Juvenile Justice Trainers Association.

Michigan Federation for Children and Families' Fact Cards

FactCardyouthinoutofhomecareAs of September 2007, 46% (8,879) of the 19,298 children in Michigan's child welfare and juvenile justice systems resided in foster homes (7,029) or residential treatment facilities (1,850). They are boys and girls...ages birth to 18...many races...many religions...with many challenges!

Private nonprofit agencies in Michigan are the State's partners in providing the care and supervision for these children. Michigan Department of Human Services statistics demonstrate this partnership: Download this 2007 data Fact Card.

2006FactCardAs of September 2006, 48% (9,688) of the 20,314 children in Michigan's child welfare and juvenile justice systems resided in foster homes (7,492) or residential treatment facilities (2,196). They are boys and girls...ages birth to 18...many races...many religions...with many challenges!

Private nonprofit agencies in Michigan are the State's partners in providing the care and supervision for these children. Department of Human Services statistics demonstrate this partnership: Download this 2006 data Fact Card.

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.

New Poll Shows Public Strongly Favors Rehabilitation

A new poll by Zogby International, and commissioned by the National Council on Crime and Delinquency (NCCD) the oldest criminal justice research organization in the U.S. – shows that the public is concerned about youth crime, but strongly supports rehabilitation and treatment, not prosecution in the adult court or incarceration in adult jails or prisons. Major findings from the survey of likely voters included:

•    9 out of 10 people polled believe that rehabilitation and treatment for incarcerated youth can help prevent future crime, and 8 out of 10 thought spending money on rehabilitative services and treatment for youth will save money in the long run.
•    7 out of 10 of those polled felt that putting young people (under age 18) in an adult correctional facility will make them more likely to commit future crime. More than two-thirds (68 percent) disagreed that incarcerating youth in adult facilities “teaches them a lesson and deters them from committing future crimes.”
•    By more than a 15 to 1 margin (92 percent to 6 percent), those polled believe that the decision to transfer youth to adult court should be made on a case-by-case basis. Thousands of young people end up automatically transferred to the adult system, either by a prosecutor, because of the crime, or because in their state, young people are automatically considered adults by courts.

The survey findings on public views is consistent with research commissioned by the U.S. Justice Department that showed that sending young people to prison may  actually increase crime and recidivism.

“These results show that the public strongly favors rehabilitation and treatment over incarceration,” says William Long, Chair of the Michigan Collaborative on Juvenile Justice Reform (MCJJR). “The public knows that adult jails and prisons do not rehabilitate and certainly don’t deter future crime.”

The survey was conducted in January, 2007 using a national sample of likely voters and utilizing methodology approved by the American Association for Public Opinion Research.  Likely voters were polled on their views on whether prosecuting youth in adult court and placing youth in adult jails and prisons were effective ways to deter crime, and on their views on other public safety approaches.  The poll comes as a number of states, including Illinois, Connecticut, North Carolina, and Wisconsin are considering proposals to reduce the number of youth automatically tried as adults.

“In Michigan, a child of any age can be sent to prison” says MCJJR member Louise Sause of the League of Women Voters.  “Far too many children are being raised in the Michigan prison system and the public wants this stopped.”

While young people tried and sentenced in the adult court receive an adult record, and can lose access to student financial aid and other social service programs, the poll showed that 66 percent of those polled said it was “unacceptable” that a criminal conviction should negatively affect a child’s future opportunities for jobs and education.

“Placing youth in adult jails is no way to solve juvenile crime,” says Elizabeth Arnovits, Executive Director of the Michigan Council on Crime and Delinquency and co-founder of MCJJR.  “The public agrees with leaders in law enforcement, such as sheriffs and correctional officials, that youth need treatment and appropriate services.”

The Michigan Collaborative on Juvenile Justice Reform is comprised of representatives of over 40 statewide advocacy, service and parent organizations.   MCJJR was established in 1977 when child and family advocates throughout the state agreed to pool their resources and raise their voices to assure the well being of children.

SPADE TO HEAD UP 3RD LARGEST STATE BUDGET

Rep. to Chair Dept. of Human Services Appropriations Committee

LANSING, Mich. - State Representative Dudley Spade (D-Tipton) will be responsible for the third largest state budget and the second largest state department when he takes the reigns of the Appropriations Committee on the Department of Human Services (DHS) for the 94th Michigan Legislature.  The former controller for Starr Commonwealth and Boysville of Michigan, both private non-profit service organizations that work with troubled youth, added that the committee is a natural fit given his background in child advocacy and accounting.  The Representative from Tipton has also been tapped to serve as the Majority Vice-Chair of the Appropriations Committee on the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

“I have spent my entire career as an advocate for children and families,” he said.  “The hands-on experience I developed during my time at Boysville and Starr Commonwealth have prepared me for this new opportunity to help improve the lives of children in Lenawee County and throughout the state.  Many of these children and families face serious and difficult challenges, and I look forward to providing them with new
hope.”

Spade has spent more than 25 years as a child and family advocate, his first 17 years as the Controller at Boysville of Michigan (now Holy Cross Services) and more recently as Controller and Director of Information Systems and Technology for Starr Commonwealth.  Under Spade's watch, Starr Commonwealth was recognized by Consumer's Digest as the 6th most efficient charity in the nation.  Also under his belt, Spade restored $7.5 million in funding to services benefiting Michigan's children and was the winner of the first annual Michigan Federation of Private Child and Family Agencies' Peer Award for outstanding dedication in service to Michigan's families and children in 1994.  More recently, he was recognized by Michigan’s Children as their Visionary Freshman Legislator for 2005.

“Rep. Spade has spent his entire career dedicated to nonprofit human services, applying his financial and ethical expertise to ensuring fiscal responsibility and quality services for children and families,” said Elizabeth Carey, Executive Director for the Michigan Federation for Children and Families. “The Michigan Federation for Children and Families applauds Speaker Dillion’s appointment of Rep. Spade to lead the DHS Appropriations Committee.”

Spade went on to add: “I look forward to working with the Department to create greater efficiencies within state government, enhance our ability to draw federal dollars, and work to foster a strong public/private partnership.”

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.

National Governors Association highlights Michigan efforts to aid aging out foster youths

Michigan’s progress in helping foster youths aging out of care will get national exposure at the second meeting of the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices Policy Academy Nov. 28-30 in Miami, FL.

Department of Human Services Director Marianne Udow will outline key challenges, innovative efforts underway and progress steps that Michigan has taken from its report on the “Interdepartmental Task Force on Services to At Risk Youth Transitioning to Adulthood” released in October. The report includes 21 action steps to ease foster youths’ transition to independence when they age out of foster care at 18 years of age.

“We have taken some important steps in implementing our plans,” Udow said, “but there is more to do and we hope our work inspires other states and other organizations to join our efforts to help these young people on the road to self sufficiency.”
In May 2006, Michigan was one of six states selected to participate in the NGA Best Practices Policy Academy. Michigan policymakers worked with national experts to design and implement new policies and programs for youth aging out of foster care at the first meeting. States participating in the academy will be represented by a core team, appointed by the governor and comprised of senior state leaders who are in a position to develop and implement substantial changes in policies and practices. The 45-member Michigan task force, co-chaired by Udow and Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan, delivered its report to the Michigan Legislature in October 2006.
In Michigan, about 450 youths aged out of foster care during 2005. These young adults are at greater risk for poverty, homelessness, unemployment and other negative outcomes. The Michigan task force examined various challenges for foster care youths and included recommendations from foster youths with firsthand experience on the panel.
“There is a growing awareness among our state and community partners that it is a myth to assume a child of 18 is ready for independence,” Udow said.
Interdepartmental Task Force on Services to At Risk Youth Transitioning to Adulthood Report

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