Welcome newest Full Member Agency Sunny Crest Youth Ranch!

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We are pleased to announce Sunny Crest Youth Ranch as the newest member of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families. Sunny Crest Youth Ranch is a vision of lifelong educators Ron and Ellyn Coppess, and a cadre of caring Ranch partners willing to commit to mentoring some of the most vulnerable in our communities. At full capacity, Sunny Crest Youth Ranch provides a loving, nurturing and secure environment for as many as 48 children who deserve a new start. Sunny Crest offers every rancher a safe place to learn from mistakes without fear of rejection and to practice the skills necessary to become a successful adult. Sunny Crest is designed to be a working ranch operation that offers at-risk boys the experiences and activities any child must have to develop in mind and spirit. Educational programs, mentoring, and skilled adult intervention coupled with cutting edge methods create the Sunny Crest environment – a safe place to explore the opportunities young men need to meet the challenges life has presented them.

For more information, check out their website: www.sunnycrestyouthranch.org

FYI • February 4, 2011 • No. 3

FYI • February 4, 2011 • No. 3
The next FYI bulletin will be issued February 18, 2011

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Adoption Contract negotiations to resume—The already established private agency negotiating group which last met with DHS officials on November 1, 2010, will resume negotiations of the adoption contract on February 10 with DHS officials in the Federation office. The urgency of this matter and the fact that adoption agencies have not received payments for services since October 1 has been discussed with new leaders within the Snyder Administration, the DHS, the Federal Monitor and Children’s Rights. It is a matter that was further discussed last week in the meeting between Governor Snyder, the Attorney General's office, DHS Director Corrigan, Children's Rights and the Federal Monitor. The status of the situation will be reviewed by Judge Nancy Edmunds in the Federal Court next week. We are working aggressively with all means to resolve this terribly outstanding issue.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES
• DHS Appropriations Subcommittee—The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Human Services held a hearing on Tuesday, February 1, as a follow-up to the Background Briefing presentation given by the House Fiscal Agency (HFA) the week prior. Kevin Koorstra and Bob Schneider, House Fiscal Analysts, provided committee members with a memorandum in response to the questions members had asked, including the difference in cost between public and private foster care services, and the Wayne County Juvenile Justice Model. Committee members were especially interested in how Wayne County developed its Care Management Organization system, and how effective it has been. The committee also dedicated a lot of time to discussing the Family Independence Program administered by DHS, and will schedule a future hearing to discuss issues concerning Bridge Card fraud and abuse. The standing committee hearing time is 9:00 am on Tuesdays.

EXECUTIVE/ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES

FYI • January 21, 2011 • No. 2

FYI • January 21, 2011 • No. 2
The next FYI bulletin will be issued February 4, 2011

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Governor Rick Snyder’s State of the State Address—Federation Executive Director Janet Reynolds Snyder, who attended the Governor’s State of the State Address on January 19, 2011, described the atmosphere as “electric” in a positive way. The governor’s approach, expressed interest and commitment, and his appointments to key department leadership positions has, indeed, provided a sense of renewed hope and optimism that serious matters will receive proper attention. For the Department of Human Services, top on the list of priorities is the consent decree and all of its ramifications.

Dudley Spade, new deputy director for the Department, requested to meet with a small group of Federation executives last week to discuss their experiences in doing business with the department, including contracting and rate matters. Those who braved the snowiest night of the year for the after-hours meeting were Loren Brown of Holy Cross Children’s Services, Brian DeVos of Bethany Christian Services, Cam Hosner of Vista Maria, Debora Matthews of The Children’s Center of Wayne County, Jim Scherrer of Child & Family Services of NW Michigan, and Federation staff. Dudley has expressed interest in meeting with our membership periodically, and we will make sure that everyone with an interest in doing so has that opportunity.

LEGISLATIVE ACTIVITIES

FYI • January 7, 2011 • No. 1

FYI • January 7, 2011 • No. 1
The next FYI bulletin will be issued January 21, 2011

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Governor Rick Snyder held a press conference yesterday afternoon, announcing the appointment of Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan as the new Director of the Michigan Department of Human Services, making official what has been speculated about for the past several weeks. Justice Corrigan joins the DHS with Deputy Directors Dudley Spade and Brian Rooney and Acting Interim Director Duane Berger, already on the job. Justice Corrigan's resignation from the Michigan Supreme Court is effective January 14, and at this time no announcement has been made on her replacement. She will also serve as the Group Executive for the "People" Group, which includes the Departments of Human Services, Community Health and Civil Rights and Education.

It was encouraging that both Justice Corrigan and Governor Snyder spoke significantly of the Children's Rights lawsuit in their remarks, emphasizing that doing what's best for children and meeting the requirements of the lawsuit were the number one priority for DHS. Justice Corrigan went on to say: In order to help families in crisis, I will work hard to expand our partnerships (with nonprofit private agencies) and do great things in the field of child welfare…. There is no more important task than doing what is right for families.

EXECUTIVE/ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES
• DHS communications posted at www.michfed.org—Log in and go to “DHS Communications” in the right-hand column. Items issued since the last FYI:
➢ December 13: L-Letter L-10-117-CW described the new requirements for involving incarcerated parents in case service plans and permanency planning conferences
➢ December 15: New Policy: Annual Transition Meeting and 90-day Discharge meeting
➢ December 16: Child Welfare Training Institute 2011 training schedules
➢ January 4: L-10-143-CW Relative Licensing Incentive FY 2011

FYI • December 10, 2010 • No. 24

FYI • December 10, 2010 • No. 24
The next FYI bulletin will be issued December 23, 2010

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Federal Court Hearing—On December 7, Judge Nancy G. Edmunds held a hearing in federal court to determine the State of Michigan’s progress in meeting the requirements for reform under the consent decree for reporting Period Three (October 1, 2009‐March 31, 2010). Judge Edmunds agreed with the Federal Monitor that the state has not been compliant with the goals of the consent decree, and there continues to be concern with the following core areas: caseload standards for CPS and adoption, training issues that remain unresolved, and areas related to safety and maltreatment in care. Judge Edmunds added that the data reporting by the Department has been woefully inadequate and created an inability to gather accurate data. Judge Edmunds is requiring the parties to meet at the end of January following Governor‐elect Snyder’s inauguration. At that time, the Attorney General, Plaintiffs, and Federal Monitor will meet with the Judge with a comprehensive agenda. Changes in structure will be discussed so as to ensure that resources are used effectively, as many aspects of the settlement reform are not economic issues. Judge Edmunds will have the parties meet again in April to determine progress under the new administration. Go to www.michfed.org to find an executive summary of the report and notes from the court hearing, both prepared by the Federation, plus a link to the full 201-page report for Reporting Period Three.

FEDERAL ACTIVITIES

DHS Launches New Smartphone App

LANSING -- Need to report abuse or welfare fraud to the Michigan Department of Human Services?

Don't worry -- now there's an app for that.

"We needed a mobile app so it can all be on one step, whether it's on the Android or on the iPhone," says Edward Woods III, a spokesman for DHS.

At a press conference Thursday, DHS officials announced they're going mobile with a new application for smartphones. Partners of the agency will now be able to access DHS news, report abuse or fraud, or refer a client to state services -- all on the go.

"This is one more step in democratizing the ability for people to have access, and bringing other people in to the work with us," says DHS director Ismael Ahmed.

How's it work? Say you want to report child abuse.

"You download the app [for free], press the 'Report Abuse' button, and it'll take you to the DHS website, embedded right here in the app," says Tim Davis, director of Digital, the company that designed the application.

"And it then gives you the options on how you would report it, whether it's a phone number, or a field form or e-mail."

And state officials say this application is needed now more than ever. In fact, a recent study by Morgan Stanley suggests that within just three years, more people will be accessing the Internet on their mobile phones than on their desktop computers.

"So there it is, right at the touch of a fingertip," says Janet Snyder, head of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families. She and representatives from other agencies across the state say the new DHS app will increase access and efficiency.

"What we're really doing is increasing the level of the safety net," Snyder says.

Bob Miles, president of Lutheran Child and Family Services of Michigan, agrees.

FYI • November 19, 2010 • No. 23

FYI • November 19, 2010 • No. 23
The next FYI bulletin will be issued December 10, 2010

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Fast approaching…December 7: Federal Court Hearing regarding Dwayne B. v Granholm—On Tuesday, December 7, at 2:00 PM Judge Nancy G. Edmunds will hold a hearing in federal court to determine the State of Michigan’s progress in meeting the requirements for child welfare system reform under the consent decree for reporting period three, October 1, 2009, through March 30, 2010. The federal monitor’s report is embargoed until the time of the hearing, and it will be made available to Federation members as soon as it is released. The court hearing is open to the public and will be held at the Theodore Levin U.S. Courthouse, 231 W. Lafayette Blvd., Room 226, Detroit.

EXECUTIVE/ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES
• Foster care contracts update—Federation Executive Director Janet Reynolds Snyder has advised agencies to sign the foster care contract, changing the term of the contract from three years to one year as per the Federation Board discussion on November 10. Janet has sent a letter to DHS’ Kathryne O’Grady, letting her know that this action has been recommended to Federation agencies, and has provided to members a letter to attach to their contracts when they are sent to DHS.
• Residential contract amendment update—Federation member executive directors are asked to continue to withhold signatures from the residential contract amendment.
• Adoption contract negotiations update—Federation member agencies are also asked to continue to withhold signatures from the adoption contract. DHS has acknowledged receipt of private agency recommendations as channeled through Janet Reynolds Snyder of the Federation. DHS has indicated it will need time to review the proposal and that a second meeting may be requested. Stay tuned.

Soap opera star inspires kids at St. Vincent's

By MARY JO WHITE • mjwhite@lsj.com • November 7, 2010 • From Grand Ledge Independent

LANSING TWP. - No one had to tell the kids to pay attention to Victoria Rowell when she took time from a book tour to stop at St. Vincent's Home Nov. 1. 
That was because the story of her life profoundly mirrored, at least in part, their own.

One of six children of a mother who had a different father for each, Rowell went to foster care right after birth and stayed there for 18 years.

She told her young audience that she loved her mentally ill mother, but realized she was unable to take care of her.

Despite Rowell's difficult start in life, she has achieved a great deal, appearing on "The Young and the Restless" and "Diagnosis: Murder," as well as in movies like "Dumb and Dumber."

She has also written two books, New York Times bestseller "The Women Who Raised Me" and, more recently, "Secrets of a Soap Opera Diva: a Novel."

In addition, Rowell has started the Rowell Foster Children's Positive Plan, a non-profit formed to provide fine arts classes, cultural enrichment opportunities and sports activities for foster children.

Member Agency Director Brian Philson Honored

November 7, 2010 • From Ingham County Community News

philson.jpgONONDAGA - Highfields President/CEO Brian Philson has received Spring Arbor University's (SAU) 2010 Professional Excellence Alumni Award.

Philson was recognized for his contributions to the juvenile justice profession and community and for achieving previous honors at SAU. Recipients of the award must be established professionally for at least five years and must have membership in one professional organization. Philson earned a bachelor's degree in social work from SAU in 1985 and a master's in social work from Michigan State University. He has been recognized nationally for his work in juvenile justice, including the 2007 Individual Award for Excellence from the Juvenile Justice Trainers Association. He is the past recipient of SAU's Young Leader Award and the Adult Studies Faculty of the Year Award.

FYI • November 5, 2010 • No. 22

FYI • November 5, 2010 • No. 22
The next FYI bulletin will be issued November 19, 2010

HIGHLIGHT OF THE WEEK

Election Day 2010 has passed! Michigan’s Executive, Judicial and Legislative branch leaders have been chosen. As with any new transition in leadership and administration, the challenges ahead loom large, and the Federation staff and members are poised to assure that critical issues and responsible resolutions also loom large on the new leaders’ agendas, which will involve a major educational effort on our part. Focused advocacy continues with the present state leadership; see updates below.

EXECUTIVE/ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIVITIES
• Adoption Contract negotiations update—Federation Executive Director Janet Reynolds Snyder and representatives from Bethany Christian Services, Catholic Social Services of Oakland County, Child & Family Services of Northeast Michigan, Ennis Center for Children, Methodist Children’s Home Society, Oakland Family Services, Orchards Children’s Services, Spaulding for Children, Spectrum Human Services, and Wolverine Human Services met on November 1 with DHS representatives Deb Buchanan, Suzanne Stiles Burke, Kate Hanley, and Anita Peters. Given the governor’s veto of the adoption rate increase in the DHS Budget bill and the department’s support of that veto, DHS representatives made it clear that it is the department’s belief that no adjustments are needed in the adoption contract rates, effectively ending the negotiating meeting. The private agency representatives stayed and continued their discussion of the issues and next steps, including a proposal for specific contract modifications. Specific recommendations that address the adoption rate issue and contract language will be submitted by the Federation to DHS on Monday, November 8.

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