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New task force aims to improve state’s foster care system

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services has established a new task force that will help eliminate systemic racism in the state’s child protection system.

The health department has partnered with the state Public Health Institute (MPHI) for the “Child Welfare Improvement Task Force”.

While 16 percent of children in Michigan are African American, black and brown kids make up 29 percent of the states foster care population.

These children and others are at a greater risk for adverse health, social and economic effects that can last a lifetime.

“Children of color enter foster care at higher rates, and stay in care longer than their white peers, said MPHI Chief Strategy Officer Dr. Paul Elam.”They’re more likely to be placed in institutional settings, stay there longer periods of time, and are more likely to age out of the foster care system without a family.”

Dr. Elam said the task force which consists of 24 members from Michigan non-profit and state leadership roles has many goals in mind to help close that gap.

“The task force will be responsible for reviewing the adequacy and effectiveness of the strategies that are being identified by the department assessing whether the agency is implementing the identified strategies and then seeking the community and legislative support,” said Elam.

Task force members will meet in March to begin gaining insight from youth, families and workers in the child protection system.