Michigan makes Foster Care Changes

Lansing, Mich. April 2, 2012 – The Michigan Department of Human Services (DHS) is pleased to announce the launch of its new Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care program, effective immediately.

The new program allows foster children, as they become legal adults, to voluntarily remain under state care until age 21 — if they are in school (high school, GED, vocational or college); in job training; employed 80 hours per month, or are deemed incapable of participating in employment/education activities due to a documented medical condition.

Last November, Gov. Rick Snyder signed into law Public Acts 225-230 of 2011, which allow for a variety of benefits, paid for by an approximate 65-35 split of federal and state funding, to be extended to foster youth in transition, including:

Extension of foster care payments

Continued oversight by a caseworker and counseling

Continued health care coverage

More time to finish high school and/or pursue vocational or higher education

“We can’t leave these children, simply because they become adults,” said Gov. Snyder. “Let’s support them—let’s make sure they have a chance at a lifetime of success.”

Recent studies have shown that foster youth who become adults without any support system in place are at much higher risk for unemployment, substance abuse, homelessness, and other issues that add to instability at a crucial time in their young lives. The transition to becoming stable, successful citizens –despite their difficult past – is what the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care Program aims to help young adults in foster care achieve.

“We’re excited to be leading the way in the Midwest, and in many ways the nation, with this foster care extension.” said Maura Corrigan, DHS director. “There’s been a need for this kind of comprehensive program for a long time. We firmly believe that as it improves the opportunities for these vulnerable young adults, it will prove to be a benefit to all of Michigan as well.”

Young adults who qualify under the new program will be able to use a number of living arrangements, including staying with their current foster parent, renting a home/apartment, even staying in a college dorm.

A new web page, www.mi.gov/FosterCare1821 , has been created to answer questions and provide instruction on how to access the new program.  Foster parents and youth can also get answers from any local DHS office statewide.