State Rep. Julie Alexander and the Michigan House of Representatives today approved a plan to improve the state’s foster care and adoption systems.
The plan was recommended by the House’s 2021 bipartisan Adoption and Foster Care Task Force, with advice from families and professionals involved in the child welfare system.
“Children going through the foster care system and adoption process have endured difficult life experiences, and these constructive reforms will help these kids,” said Alexander, R-Hanover. “Training will prepare attorneys to represent abused and neglected children. Extended licensing will help experienced foster care homes wanting to keep serving. Tax credits will encourage Michigan businesses to provide paid leave for parents who recently adopted. An annual state review will help provide sufficient residential treatment.”
Alexander especially praised legislation to expand kinship care options for child placement to include additional relatives as well as friends. The change would allow for placement of a child with an adult with a strong positive tie or role in the child’s life. This could lessen trauma for children, provide better outcomes for children, and help alleviate the foster parent shortage.
“Many caring people in our Jackson community have shared with me their personal experiences with foster care and adoption,” Alexander said. “One of the pleas I’ve often heard is to let children live with dear friends, or relatives who are not currently prioritized when placing children. I have heard those thoughtful concerns, and I am excited to vote for this plan. We will help kids adjust to new living arrangements with familiar people.”
The plan would also:
- Partner with organizations to connect foster youth to qualified family members and friends who are able and willing to care for them.
- Coordinate trauma-informed training for attorneys involved in child welfare proceedings to ensure they understand the complexities involved with representing children who have been abused or neglected.
- Better requirements to ensure that as the state safely reduces the number of young people in the child welfare system, those savings are reinvested to improve the system.
- Conduct an annual comprehensive needs assessment to better understand where service gaps exist and ensure residential treatment options meet the needs of youth who require clinical intervention.
- Establish a business tax credit for Michigan job providers that opt to provide paid leave while parents care for and bond with their newly adopted children.
- Increase access to high-quality residential treatment programs in Michigan by updating state zoning laws to reflect new federal standards.
- Address the intersection between housing instability and child welfare by urging Congress to increase flexibility for federal Title IV-E foster care funds to help children remain safely in their homes and prevent foster care placements.
The bipartisan plan now advances to the Senate for consideration.
State Rep. Julie Alexander, chair of the House Agriculture Committee, today celebrated new laws she helped pass to support Michigan agricultural producers by ensuring they may continue exporting their products.
State Rep. Julie Alexander, R-Hanover, on Tuesday testified before the House Committee on Local Government and Municipal Finance in support of her plan to preserve local control while setting a reasonable timeline for officials to review a mining operation’s request for zoning approval.