Michigan House Republicans
Rep. Kunse: Oversight Committee must consider MDHHS foster care failures
RELEASE|January 23, 2024
Contact: Tom Kunse

State Rep. Tom Kunse, R-Clare, made the following statement Tuesday after recent reporting from Detroit News uncovered the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has failed to meet federal foster care requirements.

The MDHHS foster care system has been subject to federal court oversight since 2006, when the department, under the leadership of then Gov. Jennifer Granholm, faced a class-action lawsuit alleging MDHHS was mistreating children in their care.

“It’s frightening to consider how many kids may have been failed by the broken system in the 18 years since MDHHS was originally sued for negligence,” said Kunse, who serves on the House Ethics and Oversight Committee. “MDHHS is clearly incapable of creating meaningful change. The Oversight Committee must demand answers and explore solutions for these failures. This is urgent. We’re not talking about tax policy; we’re talking a state department failing vulnerable kids.”

MDHHS, under the leadership of Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, entered into a new agreement in 2019 outlining specific requirements for the foster care system. MDHHS has not met its goal for appropriate foster care housing since 2017, when the department underwent significant reforms led by then Gov. Rick Snyder.

Recent MDHHS reporting revealed that, from July to December 2022, the state had insufficient available foster homes and failed to have enough homes for sibling groups, children with disabilities, and older children. Only 37% of kids were reunified with parents during the 2022 reporting period. The federal reunification goal is 60%.

The House Ethics and Oversight Committee met last Thursday, Jan. 18th, in its first meeting since June. Another meeting is scheduled for this Thursday, Jan. 25th. Per the agenda set by Chairwoman Erin Byrnes, D-Dearborn, the committee is set to hear a presentation on the oversight process for private driving schools.

“Just because the Oversight Committee is meeting doesn’t mean the agenda includes anything significant,” Kunse said. “Minor oversight matters will need consideration in the future, but they cannot continue to take priority over issues like mistreatment of children in the foster care system.”


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