If there is one thing we are adamant about, it is the fact that parents should be entitled to raise their children as they see fit, not as the government decides they should. This sentiment has been echoed by parents all over the nation, especially those who have battled CPS to maintain their parental rights. Studies have proven that children do better when they are not torn apart from their parents. While it seems to have taken them decades to come to the realization, CPS is finally coming to the conclusion that families should stay together.
As such, there is a new pilot program that the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is running in three counties, and the results are really positive! The program, entitled Protect MiFamily, was launched three years ago in Kalamazoo, Muskegon and Macomb counties.
The plan was to take federal money that would otherwise have been used to place children in foster care, and use it to provide at-risk families with resources that will help keep them together. Under the Title IV-E waiver, Michigan has received federal permission to pursue alternatives to removing children from homes in an effort to reform child welfare programs.
The pilot was intended to last 5 years, and we are now at the halfway mark, which is why the results thus far, are being shared with the community. The findings have been gathered and assessed by the University of Michigan and Westat, a statistical services company, and the results are very encouraging.
In order to have a baseline to compare the results to, the state picked three other counties where CPS continued to operate as they have in the past. In the pilot, families who completed the program had only 4.6 percent of children removed from their homes, as compared to the 10.8 percent of children who were removed from their homes in the control group.
In addition, families who participated throughout all three phases of the program reported a 90% satisfaction with the outcome and with the services they received, which is incredible, and the children involved showed positive signs as well. According to the post-assessment findings of the Devereux Early Childhood Assessment, 30% of children involved in the pilot showed significant improvement in their emotional and social development.
The program assists at-risk families by focusing on providing services and meeting needs, as opposed to simply removing children from homes and hoping that the adults involved with be able to sort out their issues alone. Some of the services provided include counseling, assistance with budgeting, gas cards, and much more.
As attorneys whose primary focus is keeping families together, this information is so exciting for us. As parents who love our children, we are so thrilled for the families who have been able to successfully overcome obstacles with the help of DHHS, and will not be losing their children unnecessarily to the state.