2014-03-06 / Community

Reform set to improve outcome for foster and adopted children

Funding model puts focus on performance

LANSING – The Michigan Department of Human Services recently announced a major reform initiative that will positively impact the lives of children in care and the funding of child welfare statewide.

The initiative coincides with the release of a new report that concludes a “performance-based” funding model for child welfare in Michigan is both feasible and desirable. The report itself was mandated by the legislature in Public Act 59 of 2013 and has been delivered to state lawmakers.

The release of the report and the reform effort were highlighted to the public at an event hosted by the Judson Center in Royal Oak, one of the state’s largest private agencies providing child welfare services. Attendees included Gov. Rick Snyder, who voiced his strong support of this major initiative.

Performance-based funding is an entirely new way to approach the funding of hundreds of millions of dollars for child welfare services across Michigan, specifically foster care and adoption services.

The current model is based on a “per diem” system, essentially a daily rate of reimbursement by the state and counties to private charitable organizations for children in care. It’s a rate preset regardless of the specific and unique needs of the child. The payment is based on the number of days in care.

“Under the new system, the funding level for each child is based on the desired outcome and the unique circumstances involved with getting to that successfully,” Snyder said.

“It’s not about adding dollars to what is currently available, or about subtracting dollars. It’s about doing right by 13,000 kids across Michigan with a better investment of the funding we do have— and children’s individual needs and outcomes as the main focus.”

The fundamental change will ensure that just one agency provider will manage the case for a child from beginning to end, with oversight, and be held accountable for the outcome of that child’s case. Under this reform, DHS will be held accountable along with private agencies. Both public and private entities will have fair and equitable access to resources to help achieve positive outcomes for children.

“This reform is historic and most welcome,” said Maura D. Corrigan, DHS director. “I applaud the work of the task force and the single-minded drive to make the needs of children—as they should always be— the central focus of our state’s funding model going forward.”

The new report, facilitated with the assistance of the Wisconsinbased Alliance for Children and Families, is the product of a diverse group of stakeholders. A task force brought together leaders from state government, private agency providers, the courts and the counties of Michigan.

The group, which included State Sen. Bruce Caswell and State Rep. Peter MacGregor, has produced a timeline for the phased implementation of performancebased funding in the years to come, along with identifying some of the key barriers that remain to be overcome in order for full statewide implementation of the new model.

“Michigan has already done a wonderful job of dramatically reducing the number of kids in out-of-home care and reducing the number in higher-level care,” said Susan Dreyfus, CEO of the Alliance for Children and Families. “That means the time to initiate this important reform for the future is now, when your child welfare system is in a position of strength rather than weakness.”

For more information on the Department of Human Services, visit www.michigan.gov/dhs

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