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


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.

• 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 • • 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


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.

• 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.



Dr. Gary Anderson, director of MSU's School of Social Work, has made available several research reports and a resource booklet issued in recent years by the School. While additional reports will be added eventually, at this point, you can download the following items by clicking on the title:  

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.

LANSING -- A 21-step action plan - based on recommendations from - foster care youths - will improve health care, education, job opportunities and resources for young people aging out of foster care, according to a report released to the Michigan Legislature today by the Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS).

About 450 youths in Michigan left foster care, or "aged out," at age 18 during 2005. These young adults are at greater risk for poverty, homelessness, unemployment and other negative outcomes. In January 2006, DHS director Marianne Udow and Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan convened a task force to evaluate existing services for foster youth and propose improvements.

Annual Report to the Membership 2005 Click here to discover how collaboration, networking and influence equal VALUE for Federation members.


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