State Rep. Rodney Wakeman of Saginaw Township has been appointed serve on a task force focused on improving Michigan’s child welfare system. Wakeman said the bipartisan Adoption and Foster Care Task Force will conduct comprehensive research and provide specific recommendations for legislative, administrative and judicial reform to bolster Michigan’s adoption efforts and foster care structure.
“Our child welfare system is in dire need of repair. Far too many children and families are falling through the cracks,” said Wakeman, who also serves as chair of the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “Through this process, my focus will be on listening to parents, children and others on the front line of the system to better understand their experiences and learn about the challenges they face so we can deliver solutions.”
There are nearly 12,000 children in Michigan’s adoption and foster care system. According to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, roughly 3,000 foster children are waiting for adoption at any given time and 29 percent of children in the system have been there for longer than two years.
“No child deserves to be tossed aside by society,” Wakeman said. “My mission is to improve our system to ultimately get more children into loving homes where they have a safe, secure and nurturing environment that helps them reach their full potential.”
In the coming months, the task force will conduct informal hearings with experts, families and children to garner a better understanding of adoption and foster care services across the state. It also will review data, laws and administrative practices of different states with the best performance practices, focusing on preventing child abuse and neglect, encouraging placement stability, streamlining adoptions and reunifications, bolstering kinship care and increasing public awareness. The task force will then develop a report outlining its findings and plans to improve Michigan’s systems through legislative recommendations and policy initiatives.
Wakeman invited residents to share their thoughts and ideas for Michigan’s adoption and foster care system by contacting his office at (517) 373-0837 or emailing [email protected].