Institutions shuttered as state pushes community programs to save money.
Karen Bouffard / The Detroit News
Saturday, December27, 2008
Adrian Training Center will be shuttered Jan. 24 to help close a $540 million shortfall in Michigan's budget -- but the plan also signals the end of an era in how troubled children are treated in the state.
The institution was in operation for nearly 130 years and cost taxpayers $7.8 million annually for the treatment of 31 wayward girls. But in Michigan and nationwide, experts are moving away from institutionalizing children -- a trend that affects not only juvenile delinquents but other children with severe emotional or behavioral problems placed in long-term residential treatment centers, where they often remain for years.
Instead, the state is shifting resources to keep children at home or in foster homes, reflecting today's belief among child welfare experts that institutions are outmoded, expensive and ineffective. But some child advocates say severely ill children cared for in the community often aren't getting the services they need to be successful. And many in law enforcement complain delinquents can be a danger to their communities.
"The whole field nationally is going to less restricted settings, community settings like day treatment where a kid may go to (a regular) school," said John Evan, director of the Bureau of Juvenile Justice within the state Department of Human Services.
Although they are commonly viewed as jails for minors, state-run and privately operated juvenile detention facilities are treatment centers for troubled children, Evans said. The facilities provide the therapy, vocational training, structure and an array of other services to address the root problems that cause children to commit crimes, he said.
The number of children in public or private institutions for delinquents has plummeted from more than 2,500 in 1997 to fewer than 500 this year, state data show. The state no longer can afford expensive residential treatment, Evans said.
When Wayne County took authority over its juvenile justice programs in 2000, it focused on intensive home-based services aimed at keeping children in the community, said Sue Hamilton-Smith, director of Juvenile Justice Services for Wayne County's Department of Children and Family Services. She said less than 10 percent of those who complete treatment in Wayne County's community-based programs will commit a crime again.
"The most effective approach is community-based care and having young people close to their families," Hamilton said. Still, Howell Police Chief George Baser, president of the Michigan Association of Police Chiefs, said that delinquents often commit more crimes when they're placed back in the community.
"We have some juveniles that are very violent, operating in communities, (who) need to be in detention," Baser said. In the case of children not yet in trouble with the law, some in need of residential treatment who don't get it often end up in the juvenile justice system, said Janet Snyder, executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
By ROBIN ERB
Free Press Staff Writer
At Christ Child House, the Christmas spirit arrived in old boxes and garbage bags.
It piled up in the hallways of the residential home for boys, spilled into offices and clogged up phone lines -- nudged along by folks like Aileen Lema, a beautician who made some phone calls to shoe stores. Lema's customers who reached into wallets. And her coworkers who dipped into their tip jars.
Thursday, December 25, 2008
By ROBIN ERB
Free Press Staff Writer
The best Christmas presents don't come wrapped in silvery paper and bows.
In the case of Arius Hogans, his was cobbled together by circumstance and tenacity, then packaged in a two-story home in Harper Woods. It's just what he wished for -- well, except for the snow shoveling or his recent compromise with his new dad over his birthday tattoo.
"Yeah, I like it here," the 16-year-old said, the family poodle Dymond popping into his face and pulling at his clothes. "It's good to have a younger brother, too."
This will be his first Christmas as a permanent member of his adoptive family.
Permanence. It's what Arius craved during his eight years in Michigan's foster care system, time mostly spent as one of Michigan's approximate 6,000 legal orphans. They're kids who have been legally severed from their parents by the courts -- their moms and dads deemed abusive, neglectful or unfit to care for them.
Arius's mother, a state ward herself, was just 16 when she started having babies. By 1999, the state decided she could no longer care for them.
So the boy was raised by the system, growing up at Christ Child, a sort of modern-day orphanage on Detroit's west side the Free Press spent almost three years chronicling. There, 31 boys -- many of them emotionally impaired -- live together as they wait to be reunified with their families or adopted by others.
Even in a place when the staff is quick to offer hugs and high-fives, it's a tough place to call home. That's especially true during the holidays, when ubiquitous images of family underscore for the boys the loss of their own.
"It's the most critical period in the year and the most emotional," said Christ Child's executive director John Yablonky. "Our kids have a difficult time."
From Crain's Detroit Business
By Nancy Kaffer
The folks at Vista Maria think big.
â€œOur mission has always been to serve the most disadvantaged young girls, women and children in the greater Detroit area,â€ said Cameron Hosner, who has served as executive director of the nonprofit since 1997. â€œIn 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.â€
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.
On January 27 and 28, 2009 US Government Grants presents "The Art and Science of Grant Writing Winning Strategies To Get More Money" at The Samaritan Center, 5555 Conner Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48213. Workshops begin at 9:00 am and end at 4:00 pm.
By ROBIN ERB - Free Press Staff Writer
Sunday, November 30, 2008
They come to heal. They come with hope. They come to Christ Child House looking for the love that should come from family.
The nondescript, gray home on Detroit's west side is part orphanage and part therapeutic home to 31 boys who have already exhausted a string of foster homes. More than half the boys are legal orphans, their parents' rights terminated because of neglect, abandonment or abuse.
They represent but a sliver of the more than 6,000 legal orphans in Michigan waiting to find a home and a family.
by Stephanie Esters | Kalamazoo Gazette
Wednesday November 26, 2008
KALAMAZOO -- Kalamazoo County Circuit Judge Stephen Gorsalitz suggested that Barbara Barrett write a book on time-management since she so adeptly runs a household with 10 children under the age of 16, eight of whom have special needs.
Barrett and her brood -- her four birth children, four other children she adopted years ago and the four she and her husband adopted Tuesday -- sat before Gorsalitz as he presided over the 9th Judicial Circuit Court's Adoption Day.
"It's kind of like a well-oiled machine," Gorsalitz said Tuesday after listening to Barbara Barrett describe her family as one designing an artistic masterpiece. "We need more families that have your (enthusiasm) and love and that are able to get that trust going with these kids."
Barrett and her husband, Jerry, sat at a courtroom table with Zoe, 3; Emily, 2; Samantha, 8; and 5-year-old Sebastian, nicknamed "Bash," the newest young people to join their family. Celebrating the day were their other eight children, who sat in the jury box, and other relatives sprinkled throughout the courtroom.
Jerry Barrett, who has nine siblings of his own, said he was less-than-enthusiastic about adopting. But, he said, he has grown to understand that everyone wants to "belong" somewhere, someplace.
"That's hard to do in our world, our society," he said. "That's a sad state of affair, and I'm so glad that the kids have shown that they feel like they belong to Barb and me." After the ceremony, the newest little Barretts shared what they day meant to them. Bash and Sam said they were excited by the day.
"I'm adopted," Sam said. That means "that we get to live here" at the Barretts' Mattawan home, permanently, he said.
Even though Tuesday was a happy occasion, Brad Keller, head of the Kalamazoo Branch of Bethany Christian Services, noted that more foster and adoptive homes are needed.
Whaley Children's Center serves abused and neglected children throughout the State of Michigan between the ages of 5 and 17. The Center teaches the children how to succeed as individuals, by providing continuity of care across all programs and supporting them with the resources so they can reach their potential. They provide a continuum of services to meet the social, emotional, ethical and academic needs of children and families. They encourage children and family relationships through support service, community education and advocacy.
"Congratulations to the Whaley Children's Center for being named the PGA TOUR Charity of the Year," said Tim Finchem, PGA TOUR commissioner. "The Whaley Children's Center provides many services and a nurturing environment for children in the Flint area, and is a worthy recipient of this award."
As the recipient as the 2008 PGA TOUR Charity of the Year, Whaley Children's Center will receive $30,000 towards its recreation program in 2009.
To Restore Economic Health, Congress Must Put Children First
November 20, 2008, 12:00 a.m.
By Colin L. Powell
Special to Roll Call
When the 111th Congress convenes in January, it will be faced with the most challenging agenda in recent history. Members of Congress will confront record budget deficits, pressing domestic and international issues, and follow-up to the financial rescue and stimulus packages. These challenges have shaken our country to its core and caused our leaders to sail into uncharted territory.
Congressâ€™ first priority will be revitalizing the economy. Thatâ€™s as it should be. The signs are unambiguous that our nation is in recession, just as our national debt is now well over $10 trillion and the current fiscal year threatens to add as much as $1 trillion more in red ink. But revitalizing our economy requires making sound investments. And our children are the most sound investment of all.
The Mental Health - Juvenile Justice Screening, Assessment & Diversion Project will present Mental Health - School Collaboration on Tuesday, November 18, 2008, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM at East Lansing Hannah Community Center, East Lansing, MI.
Gary Anderson remembers those middle-of-the-night runs to the emergency room, trips to the police station, and breaking families apart to keep children safe -- experiences he called "rewarding, meaningful and horrifying."
Now, the former child protective services caseworker is part of t
The Michigan Department of Human Services, the Governor's Commission on Community Action and Economic Opportunity and the Michigan Community Action Agency Association have formed the Voice for Action Network, which is sponsoring the 2008 Poverty Summit.
Jim Paparella: Settlement spells hope for Michigan's kids in need
Long-overdue reforms coming for state care
October 16, 2008 â€¢ From Lansing State Journal
Optimism for a vastly improved child welfare system in Michigan is at an all-time high. Oddly enough, it's due to a lawsuit. In 2006, the national advocacy group Children's Rights filed suit on behalf of the approximately 19,000 abused and neglected children in the custody of the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).
By Courtney Bowerman â€¢ Capital News Service
LANSING â€” Settlement of a landmark childrenâ€™s rights lawsuit is expected to bring significant improvements to Michiganâ€™s foster care system, especially with reduced caseloads for social workers, experts say.
Under the settlement, about 200 specialists will be hired to handle the cases of 6,000 children in foster care, reducing the number of cases for current workers.
â€œItâ€™s a very positive endeavor for the state,â€ said Janet Snyder, director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families.
By LISA PERKINS
TRAVERSE CITY -- While the names and faces of those in need have changed during the past 70 years, the mission of Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan has remained the same.
Strengthening and nurturing children and families by ensuring their safety and well-being was the goal of Dr. Mark Osterlin who, in the 1930s, began searching for safe havens for mistreated and ailing children he encountered during his career as a Traverse City pediatrician.
"Dr. Osterlin realized how many kids were in abusive or neglectful situations and found a way to help them," said Gina Aranki, marketing and public relations director of Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan.
Osterlin turned to the Michigan Children's Aid Society, encouraging the organization to open an office in Traverse City where rural children were able to receive needed medical attention and battered or neglected children found temporary placement in boarding homes and with adoptive families.
More than seven decades later, the private nonprofit organization now known as Child and Family Services of Northwestern Michigan, provides human and social service programs to a 13 county region in northwest Michigan.
"At any given time we have about 180 children in our foster care system, providing care for more than 400 each year," said Jim Scherrer, executive director of the organization that also places an average of 50-60 special needs children and eight infants into adoptive homes each year.