WUOMFM

After foster care, what's next for kids in Michigan?

Nov 3, 2014

Credit vicki watkins / flickr

We've recently spent a lot of time here at State of Opportunity focusing on foster care. If you missed Jennifer Guerra's documentary Finding Home, set aside some time to listen.

But foster care is just part of the journey kids in the child welfare system must navigate. Emotionally and functionally, it's a purgatory between the two worlds of child welfare. Brittany Bartokoviak has done some powerful posts on how hard it is to move past foster care.

Kids and families enter the child welfare system through a process where child welfare workers investigate abuse or neglect in a home. There were about 33,350 of these investigations that confirmed abuse or neglect in 2012, the most recent full year for which data is publicly available.

Some of those kids, a little more than a third of them judging from the most recent federal court monitor's report, will be removed from their homes and spend time in state custody, usually foster care.

At the other end of the child welfare journey, after foster care, is the amorphous goal of "permanency."

Even the director of Michigan's Department of Human Services freely admits the state makes a less than ideal parent. So the goal is to get kids out of foster care quickly. And for kids whose parents have had their parental rights terminated, the goal of the child welfare system is to get many of those kids adopted. The state's data reflects adoption is the goal for around 21% of the kids in state custody, and most of those kids are being adopted.

We'll be looking at adoption incentives and what happens when adoptions don't work out in the coming weeks. If you have insight into what it's like to adopt a child from foster care in Michigan, or what it's like to be adopted out of Michigan's foster care system, we'd love to hear from you.

As always, send those stories to alvarez@michiganradio.org