DHS Receives Federal Title IV-E Waiver For Child Welfare Project
The Michigan Department of Human Services will pilot a program designed to keep at-risk children ages birth through 5 years in their homes safely, rather than entering the foster care system. The pilot program is made possible by a waiver granted by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that allows the department to use federal funds for the project.
The heart of the project is applying both prevention and preservation services for families with young children at high risk for abuse and neglect. DHS will partner with private agencies and directly engage with families in their own homes to prevent abuse and neglect and to also prevent removal and eventual placement in foster care, according to a department press release.
The pilot is expected to launch August 1, 2013, in three counties: Macomb, Kalamazoo and Muskegon. All of these counties have a higher than typical rate of children in the pilot age group having been removed from their homes and placed into foster care.
The Michigan waiver project uses strength-based engagement with families to build social connections along with knowledge of healthy parenting and child development. Parents will be screened and immediately linked to supportive community services and treatment for substance abuse and mental health needs. The waiver will also make possible trauma screening for children.
All families referred to the new project will be provided in-home and community support services for at least 15 months. Independent third-party evaluations will take place, tracking the overall effectiveness of reaching goals and expected outcomes, and payments to private agencies will be performance based and focused on the outcome for families.