Teens in Foster Care Face Elevated Risk of Becoming a Teen Parent

Teens in foster care face considerable individual and family challenges that place them at an elevated risk of becoming a teen parent. Child Trends has released a new research brief, Teen Parents in Foster Care: Risk Factors and Outcomes for Teens and Their Children, which reviews existing research literature on teens in foster care and examines analyses of primarily regional data to assess the extent to which teens in foster care are at risk of teen pregnancy and parenting. Existing studies suggest that teens in foster care have higher rates of teen pregnancy and parenthood than youth not in care. More than 160,000 of the children in foster care were over 12 years old in 2009.

On the basis of the research highlighted in this brief, Child Trends identifies several challenges to reducing rates of pregnancy and childbearing among teens in foster care and to preventing negative outcomes for these teen parents and their children. With this brief, we hope to increase understanding of this high-risk population; to inform strategies to reduce teen pregnancies in foster care and support teen parents in foster care and their children; and to identify issues that need further research.

This research was supported by the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.

MichFed Annual Report to the Membership • September 2011


The Federation is pleased to present its Annual Report to the Membership • September 2011. Please see the attachment below.

Judge might relax aggressive child welfare overhaul


A Michigan judge might relax on Monday an aggressive schedule for a top-to-bottom overhaul of the state’s child welfare system.

Representatives of the Michigan Department of Human Services, a New York child advocacy group, and a federal court monitor have been preparing for a periodic progress report in a 2008 settlement designed to better care for thousands of Michigan children. The state has repeatedly missed crucial benchmarks.

Earlier this week, U.S. District Judge Nancy Edmunds scheduled a hearing Monday to consider a “modified consent decree.”

Details were not immediately available, but the hearing may signal a drastic change. In December, the state faced the possibility of a contempt of court ruling after it repeatedly failed to meet the conditions of the agreement that began with a 2006 lawsuit by New York-based Children’s Rights.

The group criticized the state for what it described as life-threatening poor care for children. Years of budget cuts, the loss of experienced social service workers and the state’s failure to tap into federal funding contributed to the crisis, according to the suit.

But since the beginning of the year and a change in leadership at DHS — it is now headed by Maura Corrigan, a former Michigan Supreme Court justice — caseloads have shrunk, fewer children are waiting for adoption, and new technology for field and office workers will help track cases and address critical data gaps.

“What has been accomplished since January is monumental,” said Janet Reynolds, executive director of Michigan Federation for Children and Families, which represents private, nonprofit foster care and adoption agencies.

The 2008 agreement, though well-intentioned, set standards too high for a state in financial crisis, said Jack Kresnak, president and CEO of Michigan’s Children, and a former Free Press reporter.

“Scaling back the requirements will mean we might be able to meet them.… We need to put this behind us,” he said.

Contact Robin Erb: 313-222-2708 or

Michigan Foster Care Review Board 2010 Annual Report

The Michigan Foster Care Review Board would like to share with you its 2010 Annual Report:


The Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) is a program established by the legislature to provide third-party review of foster care placements and related matters. There are 30 local review boards throughout the state, comprised of citizen volunteers. For those who are not familiar with the program, complete information can be found at

Broad Support for New Report Showing Significant Need for Post-Adoption Services


NEW YORK, Oct. 21, 2010 – An extensive examination of adoptive families in the United States, released today, concludes that too many are not receiving the essential services they need, and calls for a reshaping of national priorities and resources to develop and provide such services.

In an effort to demonstrate the breadth of professional support for a “paradigm shift,” major child welfare and adoption organizations across the country joined in endorsing the 98-page report, which was researched and published by the Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute and is entitled “Keeping the Promise: The Critical Need for Post-Adoption Services to Enable Children and Families to Succeed.”

The report stresses that the vast majority of adopted children function normally – and their parents are highly satisfied with their families. But it also points out that just over the past 15 years, nearly a million boys and girls were adopted by Americans from foster care in our country and from orphanages abroad, and the majority of U.S. adoptions continue to be of those types (by far, mostly from state child welfare systems).

“What it means is that these children live with the emotional, psychological and developmental consequences of having been abused, neglected or institutionalized before they were adopted,” said Adoption Institute Executive Director Adam Pertman. “The good news is that most of them, and their families, are doing just fine; the bad news is that the ones who need help too often aren’t getting it.”

The Adoption Institute report, which is the most comprehensive compilation of knowledge about post-adoption services to date, recommends that “the paradigm has to shift” from simply forming families to providing the supports needed to raise children to healthy adulthood. Among its recommendations are to:

  • Convene a national leadership task force to shape/ promote changes in policy and practice.
  • Develop public-private partnerships and dedicate federal funding for post-adoption services.
  • Make such services a routine part of federal, state and local child welfare planning/financing.
  • Fund and conduct critically needed research to develop/ assess the most effective services.

The endorsing organizations include: the Child Welfare League of America, the North American Council on Adoptable Children, the Dave Thomas Foundation Voice for Adoption,[1] the American Academy of Adoption Attorneys, the National Council for Adoption, the Joint Council on International Children’s Services, the Adoption Exchange Association, the Kinship Center, Lutheran Social Services of New England, Spence-Chapin Services to Families, The Cradle, Bethany Christian Services, the Center for Family Connections, the Center for Adoption Support and Education, the New York State Citizens’ Coalition for Children, Wide Horizons for Children, Adoptions Together, Children’s Home Society of North Carolina, and Adoption Resources of Wisconsin. Additional organizations support this work and plan to utilize and disseminate it, but are constrained by governmental or other regulations from becoming official “endorsers.”

For more details about “Keeping the Promise” or to schedule an interview, contact Pertman at 617-763-0134 or The Evan B. Donaldson Adoption Institute is the pre-eminent research, policy and education organization in its field. Its mission is to provide leadership – through sound research – that improves the lives of everyone touched by adoption. Its website is Download the report and press release below.

Large disparities found in giving babies the Right Start

KidsCountLogoNearly half of Michigan’s babies are born to mothers in cities or communities larger than 25,000. And many of those children start life without equal opportunities to thrive, arrive at school ready to learn and go on to become part of a highly educated workforce, according to “Right Start in Michigan 2010 – The Other Half.”

The report, released by the Michigan League for Human Services’ Kids Count in Michigan project, looks at eight indicators of maternal and infant health across 69 communities of populations of at least 25,000. It sorts those communities by risk, finding that two of every five births were in high-risk communities, including most racial minority births. It also found large disparities based on race and poverty.

“As we struggle in Michigan to get back to prosperous times and create a highly educated workforce, these measures are a dark cloud on the horizon,’’ said Jane Zehnder-Merrell, director of the Kids Count in Michigan project. “Disparities at birth fuel future inequities. Without early intervention, these disparities become the readiness gap in kindergarten, and the achievement gap in school.’’

Many studies have proven that prevention and early intervention can make a difference. For example, the recent Wilder study of school readiness costs in Michigan found that taxpayers’ investments were more than offset by reduced need for special education and social services, and reduced crime.

“Economists, brain scientists and social scientists agree that investing in early childhood development has the greatest payoff in the short- and long-term for the individual, community and state, but our public policies do not reflect this knowledge,” said Jack Kresnak, President & CEO of Michigan’s Children, a nonprofit and nonpartisan advocacy group. “As a state, we keep cutting funding for vital supports that give children and families the supports they need to succeed. We are disinvesting in Michigan’s future.”

According to the Right Start analysis, African American mothers and infants were at the highest risk for poor outcomes, scoring the worst on five on eight indicators (including births to teens and unmarried mothers). Hispanics had the highest rates on two indicators. Regardless of their racial profile, however, communities with high concentrations of low-income women were at the highest risk.

The eight indicators and their rates are:

(Average of 2006-2008)
• Births to teens (10%)
• Births to teens who are already mothers (18.6% of teen births)
• Low birthweight babies (8.5%)
• Preterm babies (10.1%)
• Unmarried mothers (39.4%)

(2008 only)
• Mothers with no diploma or GED (16.5%)
• Late or no prenatal care (3.2%)
• Smoked during pregnancy (18%)

Statewide, the report found improvements between 2000 and 2008 on three indicators — teen births, teen mothers who give birth to another child and preterm births. Those improvements have stalled in more recent times, though they are still improved over the start of the decade.

Two worsening trends were non-marital births and low-birthweight babies. Three more measures could not be tracked over time because of changes in the way the information is collected on the birth certificate.

Already, state funding for maternal and child health has fallen victim to budget cuts. Between 2002 and 2010, state funding for the Department of Community Health’s Family, Maternal and Children’s Health Services dropped from $21.7 million to $3.5 million.

Despite years of budget cuts, Michigan’s ability to pay for vital services needed by citizens is falling short. A gap of $1.6 billion is projected for the year that starts Oct. 1, 2011.

“Michigan will be challenged more than ever in the coming year to provide early intervention and support for these vulnerable children,’’ said MLHS President and CEO Sharon Parks. “We will need a balanced approach as we move forward to make sure that needed investments in children continue. It’s not just about kids – it’s about having a thriving economy and a skilled workforce.’’

Kids Count in Michigan is a collaboration of the Michigan League for Human Services, which researches and writes state-level reports, and Michigan’s Children, which works with communities to bring attention to the reports’ findings.The state project is part of a national effort to measure the well-being of children at state and local levels. The state project is supported by the Annie E. Casey Foundation of Baltimore, The Skillman Foundation of Detroit, the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation and the Michigan Association of United Ways.

Contact: Jane Zehnder-Merrell or Judy Putnam at (517) 487-5436

For the full details, click here.

2010 Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey Summary Report is in print • Order your copy now!

The 2010 Salary & Fringe Benefit Survey Summary Report reflects data current as of January 31, 2010, including a compilation of actual salaries of 4,890 employees across 71 job classifications within 41 Michigan private, nonprofit child and family service agencies, presented geographically: statewide, SE Michigan counties and counties outside of SE Michigan.

This 126-page report includes statewide aggregate data, plus four breakdowns of the General Information, Fringe Benefits, Staff Turnover Report, and Salaries Report by size of agency. This amount of detail allows for a close comparison among similarly sized organizations as agencies consider their own employee compensation packages.

This annual report is one of the many benefits of Full Membership in the Michigan Federation for Children and Families; there is no extra charge for participation and a copy of the summary report.

The 2010 report is available to non-participating non-members for $200 per copy; $150 per copy for Affiliate and Individual Federation members.

Send your request and check to: Michigan Federation for Children and Families, 320 N. Washington Square, Suite 100, Lansing MI 48933. The printed report will be sent directly to you as soon as your payment is received.

Foster Care Review Board 2009 Annual Report

FCRBAnnRep.pngThis report, submitted pursuant to 1997 PA 170, § 9, provides an overview of the review board’s functions and program activity details from this past year. Included are data, trend summaries, and observations gleaned by the board during 2009 from the review of cases involving over 1,300 children in foster care. These reviews were conducted by 200 dedicated and well-trained citizen volunteers. The information obtained from case reviews provides an objective, third-party evaluation of the care that Michigan’s foster care system provides to abused and neglected children.

This year’s report and recommendations address significant issues related to achieving safe and timely permanency for children in foster care, particularly in the area of parent-child reunification.

The Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) is a program established by the legislature to provide third-party review of foster care placements and related matters. There are 30 local review boards throughout the state, comprised of citizen volunteers. For those who are not familiar with the program, complete information can be found at

Special Review of Higher Risk Cases Period Three: 10/1/09-3/31/10

The Dwayne B. v. Granholm consent decree requires DHS to develop and implement a statewide Quality Assurance (QA) program, directed by a QA Unit established within the DHS central office. The Child Welfare QA Unit has been established as a division of the Child Welfare Improvement Bureau to ensure the provision of service in accordance with DHS philosophy. The Child Welfare QA Unit’s aim is to foster a continuous quality improvement (CQI) culture throughout DHS by introducing CQI concepts to all levels of the child welfare system, training staff on improvement processes and integrating CQI philosophy into long-term and everyday decision making. The QA unit has developed an internal capacity to undertake data collection, verification, and analysis in addition to case record reviews for the higher risk cases identified in the consent decree.

After the submission of the CQI plan in April 2009, the QA Unit began to conduct special reviews as specified by the consent decree. The Data Management Unit (DMU) provides an initial list of identified cases for the high-risk categories. The QA Unit reviews each identified case in the Foster Care Services Worker Support System (SWSS-FAJ) to pre-screen for possible data errors, and ensure that the case meets the cohort definition. The DMU and the QA Unit will continue to refine the querying process to the fullest extent possible.

The QA Unit completed special reviews for Period Three: October 1, 2009 through March 31, 2010. This report is a summary of the findings for the special case reviews conducted for during this period.

Child Fatality Reviews: 4/1/09 - 12/15/09 Quality Assurance Report

dhsbanner.jpgThe Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) is responsible for administering the state’s child welfare program. The DHS mission includes a commitment to ensure that children and youths are safe; to sustain a higher quality of life; and to give children in DHS permanent and stable family lives. The DHS Children’s Services Administration is responsible for planning, directing and coordinating statewide child welfare programs, including social services provided directly by DHS via statewide local offices and services provided by private child-placing agencies.

A settlement agreement was signed July 3, 2008 and a final consent decree was entered on October 28, 2008. Since then, DHS has made significant strides to improve the quality of service to children and families in the child welfare system by reducing caseloads for its workers, moving more children to permanency, reducing the number of children in out-of-home care, launching a continuous quality improvement system, increasing oversight of contracted providers, and developing extensive data reporting capabilities.

The consent decree requires DHS to ensure that qualified and competent individuals conduct a fatality review independent of the county in which the fatality occurred for each child who died while in the foster care custody of DHS. The fatality review process is overseen by the Office of Family Advocate.

The Child Welfare Quality Assurance (QA) Unit is responsible for analyzing results and incorporating the findings and recommendations from the reviews into relevant QA activities. The QA Unit has been established as a division of the Child Welfare Improvement Bureau in the Children’s Services Administration to ensure the provision of service in accordance with DHS philosophy. The goal of the QA Unit is to ensure that children receive high quality services and achieve positive outcomes through improved service delivery, regular monitoring of case records and data trends, and improved implementation of policy.

This report is a summary of the child fatalities between 4/1/09 and 12/15/09 concerning 19 children who died while in the foster care custody of DHS.


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