Bridges4Kids Logo

About Us Breaking News Find Help in Michigan Find Help in the USA Find Help in Canada Inspiration
IEP Goals Help4Parents Disability Info Homeschooling College/Financial Aid Summer Camp
IEP Topics Help4Teachers Homework Help Charter/Private Insurance Nutrition
Ask the Attorney Become an Advocate Kids "At-Risk" Bullying Legal Research Lead Poisoning
Bridges4Kids is now on Facebook. Follow us today!
Last Updated: 04/12/2018


Article of Interest - Foster Care

Printer-friendly Version

Bridges4Kids LogoFoster Care System Fails Kids' Relatives
by Jack Kresnak, Detroit Free Press, September 9, 2003
For more articles like this visit

The Michigan Department of Human Services and the state's courts are failing hundreds of children in foster care, partly because not enough is being done to find relatives of the kids who might make suitable parents, a report to the Michigan Supreme Court says.

The report, from the high court's Adoption Work Group, is to be released today. The work group, made up of lawyers, judges and child welfare specialists, details reasons that thousands of children languish in foster care, often for years, as their cases drag through Family Court and then appellate courts.

The report notes that in 2002 Michigan had 4,615 permanent state wards with the goal of adoption, yet the state finalized 2,833 adoptions that year. More than 12,000 children are in the state's foster care system.

Relatives and foster parents are frequently kept uninformed about issues involving the children, the report said. After parental rights are terminated, people who try to adopt related children often find stiff resistance from foster parents and the agencies supervising the children's care, the report said.

The group urges judges, court referees, the FIA and private foster care agencies to increase efforts to locate relatives of abused or neglected children in foster care, and to notify those relatives of court hearings and other issues regarding the children.

"There is a gap in the statutes and rules that may inappropriately limit participation by relatives," the report says.

The report also urges judges and referees to expedite legal proceedings, and to enforce a state law that requires lawyers representing children -- often called Guardians ad Litem, or GALs -- to visit their clients in their foster homes or relative placements. That law is believed to be widely disregarded by many court-appointed GALs who say they aren't paid enough to visit their clients. Family Court judges and referees rarely ask GALs if they had visited their clients before quarterly review hearings in court.

The state's appeals courts already are shortening the time needed to hear appeals from fathers and mothers whose parental rights were terminated, the report noted. But family court, the FIA and attorneys for the children can do more to speedthe process, the report said.

The report also recommends appealing to the public as part of the effort to locate prospective adoptive parents. The FIA and the courts are promoting Nov. 25 as Adoption Day in Michigan.

Chief Justice Maura Corrigan, a driving force behind efforts to reform the foster care and adoption systems, said Monday that "crisis" may be too strong a word to use -- although "every child in a situation of being removed from home is in a crisis.

"The best safety nets that we have, they're not perfect and they don't always work," Corrigan said. "The goal, I think, is to reduce the need for safety nets in the first place."

FIA Director Nannette Bowler said, "a comprehensive attack on the issues facing the foster care system will require the cooperation of all involved."

Another problem noted in the report is the potential for conflicting decisions on a particular child's adoption being made by judges in different counties.

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reviewed Michigan's foster care and adoption systems and found three areas that needed improvement:

  • Individual plans on how to find permanent homes for children often lacked input from parents, particularly fathers.

  • Family courts were holding permanency planning hearings -- required to be held at least once a year -- in a timely manner in only 59 percent of the cases.

  • There was no process for foster parents, pre-adoptive parents and caregivers to be notified and have an opportunity to be heard at review hearings.

"We need to get at these issues and see what we can do to be as accountable as we can," Corrigan said.  


back to the top     ~     back to Breaking News     ~     back to What's New


Thank you for visiting

bridges4kids does not necessarily agree with the content or subject matter of all articles nor do we endorse any specific argument.  Direct any comments on articles to

2002-2018 Bridges4Kids