MDHHS and Courts Partner to Return Children Home from Foster Care

MDHHS and Courts Partner to Return Children Home from Foster Care

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and the State Court Administrative Office (SCAO) have partnered to ensure that children in foster care return to permanent homes as quickly and as safely as possible during the COVID-19 health crisis.

More than 200 children in Michigan’s foster care system have been identified as being close to being able to return home to one or both parents. Child welfare officials and SCAO want to help them achieve that goal within the next month, if not sooner.

“The department believes that children should not be in foster care for any longer than absolutely necessary,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the Children’s Services Agency at MDHHS. “Even though we are facing numerous challenges right now, the urgency to achieve permanency for children and their families should not be slowed due to COVID-19.”

The project, called Rapid Permanency, uses a team approach involving Michigan’s public and private child welfare caseworkers, lawyers and judges to analyze cases eligible for reunification where parents have made significant progress. These stakeholders coordinate with one another to create a plan, with the input of parents, to address barriers that are currently prohibiting reunification and to facilitate the immediate referral to resources or services that can support safe and expedited permanency.

SCAO is assisting in this process by equipping courts with the tools to hold virtual hearings, as well as developing recommendations to resolve issues without the need to have hearings so no delays occur in reviewing cases, and issuing return home orders for children, when appropriate. Justice Megan Cavanagh said “During a time of crisis, taking steps to make sure children are with their parents is the right thing to do. The goal of this partnership is to remove barriers to bringing families together as quickly as possible, and judges statewide are committed to making well-informed decisions that are in the best interest of every child.”

“To achieve permanency, families need strong support and access to resources, and this partnership will play a key role in making sure children can be safely reunified with their parents. With close supervision by the judiciary and support from child welfare professionals and the community, more children can go home,” said Justice Beth Clement.

Both Justice Cavanagh and Justice Clement focus on child welfare issues for the Court.

The team approach will include assessment of parent progress, implementing strategies to address remaining barriers to reunification, creation of a family-specific plan to ensure child safety and well-being, referrals to in-home family reunification services, and obtaining agreement among team members and the Court to assure safe return.

This team-focused approach to expedited permanency has proven successful in other states and is expected to help Michigan meet the goal of reunifying children with their families as quickly as possible. The hope is that whatever is learned through this project can also inform practice well into the future to ensure children can safely remain with their parents.

Information around the outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and

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AG Nessel Calls on Feds to Help Homeowners

Attorney General Dana Nessel

Media Contact:

Ryan Jarvi
(o) 517-335-7666 (c) 517-599-2746

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

AG Nessel Calls on Feds to Help Homeowners Affected by COVID-19

Bipartisan Coalition of Attorneys General Demands Actions to Address Unprecedented Disruption to Mortgage Market   

LANSING – In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel and a bipartisan coalition of attorneys general demanded action to help homeowners in letters sent late last week to the Federal Housing Finance Administration (FHFA) and the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

Federal efforts have included suspending evictions and foreclosures, and additional forbearance and foreclosure relief for homeowners whose loans are backed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac or other federal entities. But the coalition is calling for more protections for those homeowners.

As part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), FHFA and HUD have already adopted streamlined processes for borrowers who have been affected by COVID-19 to enter into forbearance plans, which allow borrowers to pause mortgage payments for a limited period of time. But once the forbearance period ends, borrowers are currently being asked to either repay the missed payments in a lump sum or enter into a more permanent loss mitigation solution.

Because an unprecedented number of borrowers will need help at essentially the same time, the letters recommend moving the missed payments to the back of the loan term to allow immediate relief for homeowners and limit the strain on the mortgage-servicing industry.

“This pandemic calls for a new way of thinking across a broad spectrum of industries and arenas, and the housing market is no exception,” Nessel said. “These federal agencies have helped homeowners by making it easier for them to delay payments on their mortgages, which certainly brings with it a sense of security and peace of mind during such uncertain times. But more can be done by not charging these homeowners a massive bill all at once, which may not be a practical or affordable option for many people. That’s why my colleagues and I are urging the FHFA and HUD to follow through on these commonsense changes to make sure people can keep their homes.”

The letters make three recommendations FHFA and HUD should do:

  • Issue guidance revising their forbearance programs so that missed payments are automatically placed at the end of the loan’s term;
  • Expand eligibility for disaster relief loss mitigation programs; and
  • Clarify that the moratorium on foreclosures and evictions applies to all aspects of the foreclosure or eviction process. That includes issuing pre-foreclosure and acceleration notices, posting or publishing any notices, filing or proceeding with motions beyond continuances, or taking any other foreclosure or eviction action during the moratorium.

The protection of the CARES Act applies only to federally backed mortgages, which make up about 62 percent of the mortgage market. Borrowers who are not covered should contact their mortgage servicer (the company they send their monthly payment to) to determine whether it is offering any relief during the pandemic.

In addition to Nessel, attorneys general from the following states and territories signed the letters: California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada,  New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Tennessee, Vermont, Virginia, Washington,  West Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Are you eligible for relief?  

If you have a federally backed mortgage, you have the right to request a forbearance for up to 180 days if you have a financial hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. You also have the right to request one extension for up to another 180 days.

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau offers a guide to COVID-19 mortgage relief options on its website. To determine whether you are eligible for a forbearance plan or other assistance:

  • First find out who services your mortgage and whether you have a federally backed mortgage. See tips from CFPB or go to FannieMae or Freddie Mac’s look up tool.
  • If you do not have an eligible mortgage, your servicer or financial institution may be offering relief to borrowers. Call your servicer and let them know your situation immediately. Ask them what “forbearance” or “hardship” options may be available.

Keep in mind that forbearance doesn’t erase what you owe. You still must repay any missed or reduced payments in the future.

Need Small Business Help? Here’s How to Apply

Need Small Business Help? Here’s How to Apply

U.S. Senator Gary Peters

After hearing from small businesses across Michigan about the serious financial challenges they are facing because of the Coronavirus pandemic, I helped pass bipartisan legislation that is now law to provide additional funding to small businesses that need help. I’d like to provide you with an update on the new funding, how you can apply and what I’m doing to help ensure small businesses that need help the most can get it.


I pushed for significant improvements to the initially proposed legislation during bipartisan negotiations, including:

  • An additional $120 billion for the Small Business Administration (SBA)’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), Economic Injury Disaster Loan and Emergency Economic Injury Grant programs for a total of $370 billion in funding for small businesses;
    • $60 billion of which is specifically dedicated to Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFIs), Minority Depository Institutions (MDIs) and other community-focused lenders – which I was proud to lead the fight to include for businesses in underserved areas, including minority-owned and rural businesses;
  • $25 billion to dramatically expand testing – a necessary step towards reopening our economy safely; and
  • $75 billion for our hospitals and health care providers, who are on the front lines working to mitigate the impacts of this crisis.

Importantly, the initial bill included a smaller amount for small businesses, and no funding for testing, health care providers or a dedicated funding stream for minority-owned businesses. I fought for additional funding for testing and hospitals, and I’m pleased that we were able to come together to make significant improvements to this aid.

But for small businesses, the fact remains that navigating federal bureaucracy can be a confusing and difficult process. I’m very concerned that Michigan small businesses have applied, but haven’t been able to access funding.

That was something I heard about last week, when I convened a virtual roundtable discussion with the SBA and representatives from CDFIs and MDIs to help answer questions from Michigan minority small business owners regarding the new round of funding and how to apply for assistance.


You can watch last week’s virtual meeting I convened with Michigan minority small business owners by clicking here.


Are you a Michigan small business owner who had trouble applying previously? Or are you looking to apply now that additional resources are available? If so, I want to be a helpful resource and help you cut through the red tape.

I’ve put together an informational tip sheet on how to apply. You can find that guide by clicking here.

Whether you’re applying for an SBA loan for the very first time – applying for economic injury grants – or requesting counseling assistance – this guide can serve as a one-stop shop for many of your questions.


I’m going to keep working to ensure that small business assistance is actually going to those that need it the most. I’ve called for a wide-ranging investigation to look into any problems with the PPP and how we can fix it so that small businesses – including minority-owned businesses – can get the resources they need to stay afloat. Right now, Michigan’s small businesses are hurting. That’s why I’m going to be doing everything I can to ensure we can get through this unprecedented public health and economic crisis – and emerge stronger than before.

Thanks for reading,

Gary Peters
United States Senator for Michigan

Oakland Together: COVID-19 Update and County Survey

Oakland Together: COVID-19 Update and County Survey


April 28, 2020

Oakland County Executive Biweekly Newsletter

Dear friends,

It has been seven weeks since our first resident tested positive for COVID-19. It is hard to fathom we have lost more than 600 of our residents to this terrible pandemic and over 6,500 have tested positive. Thankfully many are now recovered and the increase in cases and fatalities is slowing.

The Stay at Home order is working, and I want to thank you again for your patience in doing what is necessary to keep our communities safe. It is difficult and I understand that this pandemic is having an impact on both our health and economic well-being. Over 119,000 residents have filed for unemployment insurance benefits to get through the economic downturn.

As we begin to plan for a phased re-opening of our economy, we are focused on increased testing and growing our team of virus case investigators at our health division so we can monitor and trace the virus until there is a vaccine. We are also enhancing support for small businesses and community organizations that are both vital parts of the fabric of our county.

I hope you will take a few minutes to complete our COVID-19 Citizen survey.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts and suggestions.



David Coulter
Oakland County Executive



Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing

Health Division and Honor Community Health Start Daily Drive-Thru COVID-19 Testing at Oakland County Complex

The Oakland County Health Division and partner Honor Community Health offer drive-thru COVID-19 testing at the Oakland County Complex in Pontiac and South Oakland Health Center in Southfield. Testing is free and available to all residents. Appointments can be made through the Health Division’s Nurse on Call hotline at

1-800-848-5533. Tests are for anyone with symptoms and asymptomatic first responders, essential or critical infrastructure employees. Test results are expected in 24-48 hours. Testing is also available at the State Fairgrounds site on Woodward Avenue in Detroit. A doctor’s note is required for testing at this site. The county is planning to expand testing sites so please look for updates on our website.

Small Businesses Impacted by COVID-19 Get a Boost from Oakland County Stabilization Fund

Oakland County small businesses hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic will share $2.3 million in grants from the county’s small business stabilization fund. Over 700 businesses received funding during this first round. County Executive David Coulter has already proposed an additional round of funding.

“This fund was created in the early stages of this crisis when we knew small businesses would need immediate financial help to stabilize,” Coulter said. “They are the life blood of our economy and we wanted to get these grants into their hands as quickly as possible.”

The stabilization fund is comprised of a $1.15 million grant from the Michigan Economic Development Corp. and a matching grant of $1.15 million from the Oakland County Board of Commissioners. The board also appropriated an additional $700,000 for the “Saving Business, Saving Lives’ grants for companies able to pivot from normal productions to manufacture personal protective equipment for health care workers and first responders.

More than 7,000 small businesses applied for grants, which would provide an immediate infusion of capital to support payroll expenses, rent, mortgage payments, utility expenses or other similar expenses that occur in the ordinary course of business. Applications were sorted by 12 geographic districts and evaluated by a team of local economic leaders from each district. The maximum award was $10,000 although the average grant ranged from about $2,500 to $5,359, depending on the district.

Two Oakland County Manufacturers Receive Grants to Make Gear for Health Care and First Responders

An Oxford-based manufacturer of ice hockey equipment and a Pontiac company specializing in knitwear were awarded “Saving Business, Saving Lives” grants to make desperately needed personal protective equipment used in the fight against the coronavirus.

The grants, awarded to Vaughn Custom Sports and Detroit Sewn, were announced this week by Oakland County Executive David Coulter. They are the first two companies to receive grants from a $700,000 fund proposed by Coulter and approved by the county Board of Commissioners to incentivize Oakland County manufacturers who can shift production to personal protective equipment such as masks, gowns and face shields.

Vaughn Custom Sports, owned by Michael and Arlene Vaughn, manufactures protective equipment such as catch gloves, blockers, leg pads, pants, chest protectors, and sticks used by professional and amateur goalies throughout the world. They were awarded $50,000 to produce several thousand high-quality protective gowns and caps a week. The grant allows Vaughn to bring back employees and dramatically increase production.

Detroit Sewn, owned by Karen Buscemi, was awarded $25,000. It began operations in downtown Pontiac in 2015. The company specializes in knitwear such as T-shirts, bags, and other clothing items and is shifting production to making cotton fabric medical face masks for health care systems and first responders across the metro area. The grant will allow Detroit Sewn to invest in equipment and hire employees resulting in a significant increase in production.

Coulter Forms COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force

Oakland County Executive David Coulter announced the leadership team for his COVID-19 Economic Recovery Task Force to help advise on strategies to help stabilize the county’s economy and recover from the downturn caused by the pandemic.

The task force will provide recommendations to Coulter, the Board of Commissioners and the Department of Economic Development & Community Affairs as the county plans for the economic re-opening from the pandemic.

“We are in the middle of the health crisis, but we still need to take steps to stabilize our small businesses and non-profit organizations that represent the fabric of the county. Oakland County is the engine of the state’s economy, and we will take every step necessary to ensure that our companies and community organizations are in a position to lead again.”

The task force will be led by co-chairs:

  • Alan Kiriluk, founder and chairman of KIRCO, a Troy-based real estate development, construction and property management company
  • Pete Provenzano, chancellor of Oakland Community College
  • Shannon Striebich, president of St. Joseph Mercy Oakland Hospital
  • Barbara Whittaker, a procurement and supply chain expert and president of BW Limited

The remaining task force members are:

  • Chris Barnett, Orion Township supervisor
  • Deb Brinson, Honor Community Health CEO
  • Wanda Cook-Robinson, Oakland Schools superintendent
  • Patty Corkery, Michigan Credit Union League general counsel
  • Eric Dietz, Huntington National Bank regional president
  • Darienne Driver, United Way of South East Michigan president/CEO
  • Mike Fournier, City of Royal Oak mayor
  • Mike Gingell, Oakland County Board of Commissioners member
  • Gerald Lang, UAW Local 5960, Vice President
  • Tom Kelly, Automation Alley executive director/CEO
  • Frank Rewold, Frank Rewold & Sons president/CEO
  • Bill Roberts, Roberts Restaurant Group proprietor
  • Robert Skandalaris, Quantum Ventures chairman/CEO
  • Rachel Tronstein, Gardner White president
  • David Woodward, Oakland County Board of Commissioners chairman
  • Christian Wuerth, Village of Milford manager
  • Patricia Yulkowski, Total Door CEO
  • Mike Sarafa, Vision Growth Partners, managing partner

The full task force includes representatives from education, foundations, local government, construction, restaurants, labor, health care, and business. The task force will focus on stabilization and recovery. As businesses begin to re-open, the task force will help identify strategies to assist in the recovery and help accelerate and sustain the rebound from the economic slowdown.

Citizen Survey

Please take a few minutes to share your views on how the pandemic is impacting you, your family and express your opinion on the next phase of our pandemic response in an advance of a further re-opening of our economy.


Updated COVID-19 Information

Oakland County Executive David Coulter wants you and your family to have the most current information about COVID-19 and how to stay safe.

Please go to for current information about the disease, ways to protect you and your family, and to find a host of timely and useful resources.

  • If you have immediate health-related questions, please call Nurse on Call at 1-800-848-5533 or email [email protected]
  • For non-health questions or requests, contact the Oakland County Help Hotline at (248) 858-1000 or [email protected]
  • If you would like to receive text message alerts with current COVID-19 information, text  OAKGOV COVID to 468311

Oakland County is committed to keeping you safe and informed.


Oakland Together Hashtag


Over 1 Million Michigan Workers Affected by COVID-19

Over 1 Million Michigan Workers Affected by COVID-19

Contact: Jason Moon 517-282-0041

The Michigan Unemployment Insurance Agency (UIA) has provided benefits to 1,018,315 Michigan workers who are unemployed as a result of COVID-19. The agency also disbursed more than $1.66 billion in payments since March 15. The most recent U.S. Dept. of Labor report showed 1,178,021 Michiganders filed unemployment claims between March 15 – April 18. Most workers who have not yet received unemployment benefits will be eligible in the coming weeks once they complete the federal requirement to certify their claim.

“We are working hard to provide emergency financial assistance to those affected by COVID-19, with more than 1 million Michiganders receiving benefits,” said Michigan Dept. of Labor and Economic Opportunity Director Jeff Donofrio. “While Michigan’s unemployment system appears to be outpacing the rest of the country in paying benefits, much work remains for those who still need help completing their claim. We will not rest until everyone receives the benefits they are entitled to.”

In conjunction with the federal CARES Act, Michigan was among the first states in the nation to begin sending the additional $600 federal payments in Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (PUC) and make the unemployment application available to self-employed workers and independent contractors through the Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). In a recent Detroit Free Press report, Michele Evermore, senior policy analyst of Washington, D.C., nonprofit National Employment Law Project, said the state has been uniquely responsive to the crisis. Michigan is one of the few states already issuing the additional $600 pandemic benefit handed down from the federal government, she said. Evermore credited Gov. Gretchen Whitmer for improved access to benefits.


Added Capacity
The UIA has extended its call center hours and added hundreds of customer facing staff. The agency has also built in new tools to its online system connecting more than 100 staff to resolve technical issues like locked accounts.

Historical Demand
In the weeks preceding the pandemic, the UIA received around 5,000 new weekly unemployment claims. During the Great Recession, the weekly high was around 77,000 in 2009.


Unemployment claims during COVID-19:


Week-Ending March 21:             128,806

Week-Ending March 28:             304,335

Week-Ending April 4:                  388,554

Week-Ending April 11:                222,207

Week-Ending April 18:                134,119

Five Week Total:                     1,178,021


How to File and Certify
The fastest and easiest way to file and certify a claim is online at More than 90% of all claims are filed and certified on the 24hr website. Customers are urged to use the site during off-peak hours between 8pm-8am. For anyone having difficulty with their account, the UIA Call Center – 866-500-0017 – is available 8am-6pm Mon-Fri and 7am-2pm on Saturday. Customers in the call center and online chat queues before closing time will have their calls or chats resolved that day.


Information around this outbreak is changing rapidly. The latest information is available at and