As we move into the new year with the Synder Administration, there are changes that will occur in our field of service. The governor has signed an executive order to appoint Nick Lyon as the Director of the newly formed Department of Health and Human Services, and within the new Department created the Michigan Children’s Service Agency. That means a separate agency will now focus only on children’s issues, including the budget. This is very exciting for the field of child welfare and the needs of Michigan’s at-risk youth. The stated goal of the agency for children is to remove barriers and promote opportunities for children, as they are supported on their path to adulthood.

Of course, those of us in this field agree with the vision, and it is easy to say we are very interested in the path that needs to be developed to do so. Over the decades that I have been in the child welfare field, the same issues of major concern continue. New ideas, programs, projects are tried, some improve delivery of service and some just don’t. I do truly believe a strong continuum of care, with many options for service recipients, needs to be developed and maintained. Many of the pieces are in place in Michigan but funding is always a major concern. We at Wolverine Human Services will continue to work diligently with the Department and new Agency to provide the best services possible to Michigan’s youth, with our mission as always, “Helping Children to be Victors.”

I would remiss if I didn’t mention the continued work with MiSACWIS, the reporting system that Michigan is implementing. I know there has been press coverage on payments of private agencies and foster parents. Both the department and the private providers are working very hard on trying to resolve many, many issues. To say it is very difficult is an understatement. It has not gone as smoothly as hoped, and has become very taxing on many workers. Everyone continues to hope for a resolution of issues, and many skilled hands are working very hard to find solutions!

Judith Fischer WollackJudith Fischer Wollack, LCSW, ACSW, LMSW, started working with Michigan’s most vulnerable children and families when she was 16 years old. She is now CEO of Wolverine Human Services and President of the Association of Accredited Child and Family Agencies (AACFA). She actively works with policymakers in Lansing to advocate for the needs of youth and families in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems.