• February 2004
  • Vol. 5, No. 1

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Enhancing State Child Welfare Systems

Two States have recently released publications on their efforts to enhance child protection and permanency, in compliance with Federal regulations. These reports may be of interest to communities grappling with similar challenges.

Michigan: Addressing Barriers to Adoption in the Court System

In April 2003, Michigan's Supreme Court initiated a work group to address obstacles to adoption in child protection proceedings as discovered in the State's Child and Family Services Review (http://library.childwelfare.gov/cwig/ws/cwmd/docs/cb_web/SearchForm). In its final report issued in September 2003, the work group made a number of recommendations, including:

  • Encouraging faster filing of termination petitions after permanency planning hearings.
  • Encouraging shortened intervals between permanency planning hearings.
  • Giving highest priority to termination of parental rights cases.
  • Requiring early identification of fathers, relatives, and other interested parties.
  • Controlling substitution of attorneys for children.
  • Developing educational and training programs aimed at judges and court staff regarding adoption and lawyer-guardian ad litem issues.
  • Fostering interagency cooperation.
  • Conducting outreach to promote adoption.

The final report can be found at www.courts.michigan.gov/supremecourt/Press/FinalReport.pdf (Editor's note: Link no longer active).

Minnesota: Guide for Long-Term Foster Care

The Federal government requires that long-term foster care only be used when other options (reunification, permanent legal and physical custody, or adoption) are not in the child's best interest. To ensure agencies comply with this requirement, Minnesota's Department of Human Services has issued a guide for using long-term foster care. This guide describes:

  • The process for making a placement decision
  • The process for selecting an appropriate placement
  • How and when long-term foster care fits into this process

Corresponding State statutes are referenced, showing the reader how practice is linked to legislation. Guidelines for discussing long-term foster care with both children and foster parents are also included. Additionally, a matrix provides an easy-to-read description of Federal and State requirements for placement and permanency decisions, as well as how failure to comply with each Federal requirement impacts Title IV-E reimbursements.

A copy of the guide can be obtained on the State's website at http://edocs2.dhs.state.mn.us/lfserver/Legacy/MS-2297-ENG (Editor's note: Link no longer active).

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