Late last month, Governor Snyder’s budget recommendations were released. The private sector was very disappointed to see the recommendations of a $3.00 reduction to the foster care rate, a decrease of 2% to residential services (following an increase in the fall of 2014), and a reduction in adoption subsidies. Private agencies rely on government funding (i, ii, iii) to provide necessary and life-changing services for clients.

On March 12th, I was able to testify before the Joint House and Senate Appropriations Committees expressing our concerns. Private agencies are repeatedly given unfunded mandates to continue to provide basic services to our clients. Appropriate reimbursements for these services are not provided. We are continually being asked to do more with fewer dollars.

As nonprofits, our purpose has nothing to do with financial gain. However, this does not mean that we should not be paid for the work that we do. Fundraising dollars should be allocated to the “above and beyond” services for our clients, not to provide basic services deemed necessary by federal and state law for a child’s safe and healthy life. Other businesses in Michigan get paid dollar for dollar for the services they provide (i.e. construction contractors). This is not the case with nonprofit agencies.

MiSACWIS and payments to private agencies continue to be a major issue (iv, v). The new system is not working and is causing major financial problems for agencies. Boards of Directors across our state are very concerned about the issues this is causing for the agencies they serve. There are repeated attempts to fix the MiSACWIS system, but problems remain and continue to deteriorate. Again, nonprofit agencies just want to get paid for the necessary services we provide.

To date, it is estimated that the outstanding services owed by the Michigan government to nonprofit agencies is topping $35,000,000.

Is this acceptable to the agencies that are providing services and treatment to our most needy and vulnerable Michigan residents? Again I ask, what other businesses in Michigan are not getting paid after providing a service? Would a road repair contractor not get paid for 6 months?? As one of the members of Wolverine’s Board of Trustees stated, this is becoming an embarrassment to our state.

The newest concern is how will this system get fixed? What are the answers to these issues? You can help by making your voice heard! Contact your state representatives to offer support on these issues.

All of the private agencies are mission driven and remain committed to the children, families, and Michigan residents we serve. At Wolverine Human Services, we are “Helping Children to be Victors,” and that is what we want to do everyday!!

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.