Report Outlines Proposals for
'Aging' Foster Care Youth
Gongwer News Service, October 1, 2006
A plan to provide Medicaid health care coverage and immediate
access to job training to young people who "age out" of the
foster care system at age 18 was unveiled Monday by the
Department of Human Services.
The 21-step proposal to the Legislature is aimed at helping
fight the tendency that those young people have to become poor,
homeless and unemployed. Included in the proposals is one that
would allow those 18 or older to voluntarily remain in foster
care after they have otherwise "aged out."
Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan said, in a release, that
"many foster care youths face a bleak future after they age out,
as both national and state statistics." An estimated 450 young
people in foster care reach age 18 each year in the state,
The task force on the situation was convened in January by Ms.
Corrigan and DHS Director Marianne Udow, and included a number
of former foster-care youths.
The 19-page report (PDF) is available at the department's
The report says that most children are actually cared for by
their parents for some years after they turn 18, but that youths
in foster care often have to "make the transition into adulthood
without parental support. Past experiences of trauma, neglect,
abuse, and abandonment affect a foster youth's ability to face
life's challenges without a loving family or an enduring
And in a statement Ms. Udow said it is a "myth" to assume that a
youth is ready for independence at 18.
The report recommends 21 different steps to help ease the
transition those youths will face, including a website with
information specifically geared towards those young people;
automatic referrals to Michigan Works jobs centers; "seamless"
Medicaid eligibility until age 21 and expanded dental care; easy
access to critical documents like birth certificates; housing
information and education; an easy way for schools to access
records from different schools; and expanded financial support
for secondary education.
Ms. Udow said the recommendations, if implemented, could help
make a significant difference to the lives of foster care youth
who age out of the system.
Dropout Numbers Not Always Verified
MIRS, September 28, 2006
Data used by state and federal policymakers to set education
policy, and by parents in making location decisions, could very
well be inaccurate, according to an audit released today.
A study done by the state's Auditor General of the Center for
Educational Performance and Information (CEPI) showed that the
office has no power to ensure that the data it's receiving from
school districts is accurate.
"As a result, federal agencies, the Legislature, the MDE, local
school districts and parents that use this data to make
education policy decisions and to evaluate individual schools'
performance as well as the overall quality of education in
Michigan cannot be assured that their decisions are based on
accurate information," the report stated.
CEPI is the center that calculates annual graduation drop out
rates for each high school, each district and the state in
congruence with national standards.
After CEPI calculates the drop out rates, it reports the rates
to the state Budget Director and the Michigan Department of
Education (MDE). The statistics are reported to the federal
government and are then used in national statistics.
According to the Auditor General's report, the CEPI could not
verify the accuracy of the data used in the calculations because
it did not have the authority to review high schools' records
and it also did not have the authority to withhold state aid
payments for schools that failed to report the data or
incorrectly reported the data.
The Auditor General went to 10 schools and reviewed the
information the schools collected concerning drop out rates. The
errors in CEPI's reporting rates ranged from a 0.6 percent
overstatement (most accurate) to a 37.5 percent understatement
CEPI's reported dropout rates ranged from a 0.1 percent
understatement (most accurate) to a 13.3 percent overstatement
(least accurate) for the two school years reviewed, according to
CEPI's inability to provide accurate drop out rates has also had
an impact on schools' Adequate Yearly Progress (AYP) reports,
which is one indicator that schools use to see how a school is
fairing on a national level.
In some cases, CEPI showed schools met AYP when a closer look at
school records showed the schools had not made AYP. In other
cases, CEPI showed schools hadn't met AYP when the schools
The Auditor General recommended that the CEPI seek out the
authority to review high schools' records as well as the
authority to withhold state aid from schools that don't turn in
drop-out rates or turn in inaccurate rates. The idea is that
this would allow the CEPI to really verify the process it uses
to gather drop out information.
CEPI agreed with this recommendation and will seek legislation
that will give it the authority to look at records and punish
those that withhold the records.
CEPI also did not verify that schools claiming to have 100
percent graduation rates actually had 100 percent graduation
rates, didn't perform analysis to see if schools increased or
decreased graduation rates from year to year, did not perform
searches to see if some of the kids who left one school went to
another state school, and didn't check the systems that schools
use to log their drop out data.
CEPI agreed to change these policies to make sure that the data
collected is correct.
As a result of the "inaccurate" verifications of the information
the drop out rates are based on, CEPI was moderately effective
at calculating graduation rates, according to the Auditor
The Auditor General also released a financial audit of the
Transition in the Office of State Treasurer. This audit can be
viewed on the Auditor General's Web site.
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