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Michigan youth who are under state care and supervision in child-caring institutions and juvenile justice facilities will be safer because of the work of a diverse group of child welfare stakeholders that is holding its last meeting today.
The group’s accomplishments include revising Michigan licensing rules to eliminate the use of physical restraints and seclusion in child-caring institutions, and creating a statewide Youth Advisory Board made up of children who have experienced the child welfare system.
The Child-Caring Institution Steering Committee formed by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) began meeting in September 2020 in response to a report from national experts recommending improved oversight of safety and quality of care to children receiving residential services – including a move towards restraint-free programs. Former MDHHS Children’s Services Agency executive director JooYeun Chang requested the review following the tragic death of a youth in May 2020 due to improper and unnecessary restraint in a licensed facility.
“MDHHS remains dedicated to improving safety and quality of care in Michigan’s child-caring institutions and reducing reliance on congregate care,” said Stacie Bladen, interim Children’s Services Agency executive director and co-chair of the steering committee. Members and workgroup participants moved the state closer to eliminating coercive interventions in residential programs and improving positive long-term outcomes for children and their families.
The proposed licensing rules – if approved following a public hearing – will permanently ban restraint and seclusion in child-caring institutions. They will take the place of temporary emergency rules that are in place until July.