Kronzek Firm Attorneys

Child Welfare in Michigan – Why It’s Not Working

Michigan has a long history of poor reviews of our child welfare system. Every year, the rising numbers of children unnecessarily removed from their homes, and suffering in poverty is record-breaking. But the one fact that gets brought up again and again is the issue of child removal.

 

Children in Michigan are regularly removed from their homes, separated from their parents and sometimes even their siblings, and shunted around in a system that doesn’t offer them anything better. In fact, what it offers them is often far worse.

 

We have mentioned again and again in our articles the fact that CPS is essentially the only agency working with families to overcome their struggles when it comes to parenting. But it is this same agency that documents a parent’s every transgression and then testifies against them in court. Which makes no sense at all.

 

What Michigan families need is an agency or organization that is working with them and for them, and only that. Never against them. What they need is help that comes without the legal strings attached, the pending threat of removal if they don’t tow the line in every way. What they need is help from someone other than a double agent working both sides of the battlefield.

 

But where does one find an agency like that?

 

As it turns out, they do exist, and they are making a huge difference. Places like the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, which provides legal advocacy and social work services to low-income families, which helps to prevent the unnecessary placement and prolonged stay of children in foster care.

 

By keeping families together, the Detroit CFA vastly reduces the amount of taxpayer dollars that have to be spent on placing and fostering children. But more importantly, they keep families together, helping them work through problems without the emotional damage caused by involuntary separation.

 

According to Vivek Sankaran, director of the Child Advocacy Law Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, foster care is very similar to chemotherapy in that it is sometimes the only option in very serious cases, but the side effects are terrible and sometimes do more harm than good.

 

For many children, the emotional and psychological trauma caused by being torn from their birth parents and bumped around from one stranger’s home to another, has lifelong impact. Many have difficulty forming healthy attachments, and struggle with substance abuse, low self esteem and mental health issues like depression. This in turn creates lasting issues for these children in their adulthood, and the communities they live in.

 

What we as a state need is more focus on working with families to solve their problems, providing the help and support they need, and less focus on trying to solve every familial issue by tearing away the children.

 

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