Justice Corrigan to lead the Michigan Department of Human Services

CorriganSnyderCalleyGovernor 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 yet 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.

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.

Outcome of December 7 Federal Court Hearing

On December 7, 2010, 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.

Foster Youth Internship applications due January 7

The Foster Youth Internship Program of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute (CCAI) is for young adults who spent at least 24 consecutive months in foster care at any point in their life and who have completed at least four semesters of higher education by May 31, 2011. CCAI places these interns in Congressional offices in Washington DC for a nine-week internship program. Housing, travel, and a weekly stipend are provided by CCAI. Applications are accepted through January 7, 2011.

The program will run May 31-July 30, 2011. The goal of the program is to educate policymakers about the experiences of foster youth in an effort to inspire legislative improvements for foster care. Interns participating in this program benefit both personally and professionally, gaining experience and skills that will bolster their careers for years to come.

For more information and to apply, visit www.ccainstitute.org/fyiapply or contact Emily Collins at Emily@ccainstitute.org or 202-544-8500.

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.

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