MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

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CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-281-1701,

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) today outlined progress that has improved the well-being of youth involved in the state’s child welfare system.

MDHHS appeared virtually in U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan for the latest report from federal court monitors who have been tracking the progress since a court settlement in 2008 following a 2006 lawsuit.

“Michigan has made great progress over the past 13 years in keeping children safe and providing services to families,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “While we realize we still have work to do, we strongly believe we have a self-reliant child welfare system and are moving closer to a system that does not need federal court oversight.”

In court, Hertel and MDHHS child welfare leaders shared improvements that include:

  • A substantial decrease in the number of children in foster care. Michigan had more than 19,000 children in care in 2008. Today, there are just over 10,000.
  • A large decrease in children placed in congregate care facilities as more children are placed in family foster homes or reunified with their parents. In 2008, Michigan had more than 1,200 children in the group facilities, compared to about 450 today.
  • A substantial decline in overdue Children’s Protective Services investigations of suspected child abuse and neglect – from 1,260 in July 2019 to only 22 at the end of 2021.
  • Strategies that seek the voice of youth and families, including formation of a parent advisory board and another advisory group made up of people who have experienced Michigan’s child welfare system, including youth and foster parents.
  • A decline over the last 12 years in children being removed from their homes along with an increase over the same period in children exiting care to be reunified with their families or adopted.
  • A significant decline in physical restraint of youth in child-caring facilities over the last two years.
  • A substantial improvement since 2019 in the safety of children who are in foster care.

Hertel told the court the department hopes to be able to exit federal court oversight by the end of 2022. Today, federal monitors released a progress report for the six months ending Dec. 31, 2020. The report showed that caseloads for Children’s Protective Services staff and workers who monitor private child welfare agency staff continued to meet the settlement’s standards.

MDHHS data shows the rate of child maltreatment in foster care for fiscal year 2020 improved to 4.7 per 100,000 days in foster care – well below the 9.7 rate required by the court and down significantly from 2019.

“I am particularly proud of the improvements we have made in increasing safety for children in foster care” said Demetrius Starling, executive director of MDHHS’s Children’s Services Agency. “Keeping children safe is our top priority. Our staff and private partner agencies have worked hard to protect children who are in foster care. We will strive to do better and continue our efforts to make improvements that will keep children safe and allow us to exit court oversight.

While the progress has been sustainable, the department recognizes further improvements are needed. MDHHS will work to address challenges identified in the report, including improved documentation of investigations of maltreatment in care, oversight of contracted agencies, and finding children in foster care a permanent home through reunification or adoption within 12 months.

Judge Nancy G. Edmunds asked MDHHS to work with the federally appointed court monitors on a plan to focus on select areas that are monitored by the court using up-to-date data and provide an update to the court on April 20.

To view the latest federal court monitor report and other information, go to

nursing homes offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination

nursing homes offer on-site COVID-19 vaccination

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Press Release


CONTACT: Lynn Sutfin, 517-241-2112,

MDHHS issues order ensuring nursing homes across
the state offer 
on-site COVID-19 vaccination to protect residents


LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) has issued an epidemic order to further protect residents in nursing homes across the state by ensuring residents have the opportunity to get up-to date on COVID-19 vaccines at the nursing home where they reside. 


“With the Omicron variant rapidly spreading across our state and cases of COVID-19 continuing to remain high, we want to make sure our most vulnerable Michiganders are protected from the virus,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “The COVID-19 vaccine is our best defense against the virus, and we want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to get up to date.” 


Under the order, nursing homes must offer on-site doses of COVID-19 vaccines to residents who are not up to date as of Jan. 20, 2022, within 30 days of the effective date of the order. 


Nothing in the order requires nursing home residents to get vaccinated. Nursing homes are encouraged to provide informational materials about COVID-19 vaccines so that residents can make informed choices. Materials can be located on MDHHS’ Long-Term Care COVID-19 Plan website. 


For residents who are unable to make their own medical decisions, nursing homes are required to contact the individual legally authorized to make medical decisions on behalf of the resident and make them aware of the availability of COVID-19 booster doses on site.  


Nursing homes must document a resident’s consent or refusal of an offered COVID-19 vaccine. For residents who are unable to make their own medical decisions, nursing homes must document the consent, assent or refusal of the offered COVID-19 vaccine made by a person authorized to make medical decisions on behalf of the resident.  

Skilled nursing homes were among the first groups offered vaccination in December 2020 when the COVID-19 vaccine became available. First and second doses have been offered at 100% of the facilities in the state, with 74% of eligible Michigan nursing home residents having already received their booster dose. Nearly 2.6 million booster and third doses have been administered in the state, with nearly 1 million of those doses provided to Michiganders ages 65 and older.  


Under previous executive directives signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, the state of Michigan has prioritized booster doses for residents in long-term care facilities, including nursing homes and adult foster care, and has been working to expedite delivery of third doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines to residents who have compromised immune systems.


The latest information is available at and To learn more about the COVID-19 vaccine, visit  

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

State Loan Repayment Programs for medical providers

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Press Release


CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112,

Michigan in top of nation for State Loan Repayment Programs for medical providers

LANSING, Mich. – Michigan’s State Loan Repayment Program (MSLRP) has received recognition for ranking top in the nation for field strength. Since 1991, Michigan has offered the MSLRP to encourage medical, dental and mental health care providers to practice in medically underserved areas in Michigan. The program operates simply – in exchange for a medical professional working in an underserved area for two years, MSLRP will repay up to $50,000 of the participant’s educational debt. This contract can be renewed three more times for a total of eight years and up to $200,000 in loan repayment.

“Primary care providers are critical in bringing access to health care to Michiganders,” said Elizabeth Hertel, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services director. “We are pleased to be recognized and partner with health care providers in recruitment efforts to bring equitable access to health care across the state.”

During fiscal year 2021, 216 medical, dental and mental health care providers served in these areas as part of the Michigan State Loan Repayment Program, a record for the program. Participants work in several rural and urban counties throughout Michigan. In most cases, 40% of the loan repayment is funded by the state, 40% by the federal Health Services and Resources Administration and 20% by the participant’s employer; employers contribute because it greatly aids their recruitment efforts. This fiscal year, about $1.5 million in state general funding was allocated to the program.

Field strength is a key metric Michigan works to accomplish and the program focuses on improving field strength through recruitment and retention. The MSLRP helps employers recruit and retain primary care providers working in Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs) in Michigan. Increasing the number of providers in the program allows Michigan to meet that goal and help reduce provider shortages in Michigan.

For more information about the program, visit

Opioids Task Force announces RFP for racial equity consultant

Opioids Task Force announces RFP for racial equity consultant

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Press Release


CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112,

Michigan Opioids Task Force announces RFP for racial equity consultant to lead new Racial Equity Workgroup

LANSING, Mich. – The Michigan Opioids Task Force is requesting proposals for a racial equity consultant to guide the development of a Racial Equity Workgroup to target disparities in overdose fatalities among Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC).

In 2020, the economic and social disruption of the COVID-19 global pandemic exacerbated the already deadly drug overdose epidemic and brought to the forefront the deadly impact of health disparities on BIPOC communities. Provisional 2020 data illustrates increases in overdose fatalities among African American and Hispanic/Latinx populations. The age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate for Black residents, increased from 29.1 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2019 to 37.5 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020. The age-adjusted opioid overdose death rate for Hispanic residents, increased from 15 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2019 to 22.3 deaths per 100,000 residents in 2020. Overdose deaths among Hispanic residents increased by 52% in 2020, from 91 in 2019 to 138.

In response, the Michigan Opioids Task Force will establish a statewide Racial Equity Workgroup committed to evidence-based initiatives to combat growing racial disparities in overdose deaths. The racial equity consultant will support the development of a statewide Racial Equity Strategic Plan for reducing overdose disparities. Qualified applicants must have two years of experience as a racial equity consultant and/or experience facilitating community conversations about race and equity.

“The Michigan Opioids Task Force was created to quickly respond to growing disparities in our state,” said MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel. “These deaths are tragic, and we want to encourage anyone struggling with substance abuse to seek help. I am proud that our organization is taking swift action to prevent overdose deaths – especially in minority groups who are experiencing higher death rates.”

Overarching goals of the workgroup will include:

  • Targeting the distribution of resources and opportunities to people and groups that have experienced structural and institutional discrimination and oppression.
  • Eliminating harmful and unjust policies, practices and systemic barriers that produce historical and contemporary inequities based on race and ethnicity, with additional consideration given to gender identity, class, sexuality, geography, disability, and other forms of difference.
  • Creation of new systems, policies, and practices that institutionalize equity and support sustainable, transformational change.

The Michigan Opioid Task Force is partnering with Vital Strategies, a global health nonprofit, will support the work of the Racial Equity Workgroup. Vital Strategies’ work on this initiative is part of the Bloomberg Philanthropies investment in overdose prevention in Michigan announced in March 2019.

Interested applicants can view the Request for Proposal and proposals are due by 5 p.m. on Feb. 7. The anticipated start date of the project is March 1.

For more information and resources, visit

MDHHS describes child welfare system progress in court

MDHHS awarded federal grant for mental health needs

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Press Release


CONTACT: Bob Wheaton, 517-241-2112,

MDHHS awarded federal grant to address mental health needs
of southeast Michigan flood survivors

LANSING, Mich. – Heavy flooding last July in the metro Detroit area not only damaged homes, businesses and infrastructure, it also took an emotional toll on residents, many of whom were already struggling with pandemic-related challenges.

Now, federal grant funding awarded to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) and its Detroit-area partners will help provide support to Wayne, Oakland and Macomb County residents who were emotionally affected by the flood disaster.

The $3.7 million Crisis Counseling Assistance and Training Program grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), in partnership with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), will be used to create the Tri-County Strong program. Local mental health provider groups coordinating with behavioral health personnel from the state, Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network, Oakland Community Health Network and Macomb County Community Mental Health will seek out flood survivors and offer crisis counseling services and supports.

“After a flood disaster, government assistance to rebuild your home or business is often not enough. Survivors also need emotional support to rebuild their lives and keep moving forward,” said Elizabeth Hertel, MDHHS director. “MDHHS prioritizes meeting the behavioral health needs of Michiganders. We are grateful to FEMA and SAMHSA for recognizing this need in our largest metropolitan area.”

Allen Jansen, senior deputy director of the MDHHS Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities Administration, said Tri-County Strong will reach out to flood-impacted neighborhoods and intervene to build community resilience. “The intent is to help community members cope with normal reactions to this disaster, and prevent or minimize any post-disaster needs for more intense clinical behavioral health services,” Jansen said.

Grant funding will run through early October 2022.

“This past year our region has struggled with natural disaster and the psychosocial toll and devastation that was left behind, in addition to the pandemic, which has contributed to stress and fears,” said Eric Doeh, president and CEO of the Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network. “In spite of it all, we are dedicated to improving the lives of flood survivors and we’re proud to be part of these efforts.”

While local community mental health agencies will be reaching out, people affected by the flooding who want immediate behavioral health assistance should contact their county agency:

  • Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network:, 313-344-9099 for the main number, or 800-241-4949 for the 24-hour help line
  • Oakland Community Health Network:, 800-341-2003 for customer services or 800-231-1127 for the Crisis and Resource Helpline.
  • Macomb County Community Mental Health:, 855-996-2264 for the main number or 586-307-9100 for the 24-hour crisis line.
MDHHS updates COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools

MDHHS updates COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools

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Press Release


CONTACT: Chelsea Wuth, 517-241-2112,

MDHHS updates COVID-19 guidance for K-12 schools

LANSING, Mich. – Today, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) updated its K-12 school quarantine and isolation guidance to reflect recent updates made by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that modifies or shortens the quarantine and isolation periods to as short as five days in some circumstances.

Changes include language on isolation guidance that allow students, teachers and staff to return to school sooner after infection, under certain circumstances. Quarantine guidance is also updated, allowing students, as well as staff and teachers, to return to school sooner after a school-based exposure.

The state is committed to ensuring Michigan students and educators are as safe as possible in the classroom. When layered prevention strategies such as vaccination, masking, distancing, testing, isolation and quarantine are applied consistently, school-associated transmission of COVID-19 is significantly reduced. MDHHS continues to recommend universal masking in K-12 settings. This guidance will help K-12 schools maintain in-person learning by outlining mitigation strategies when students, teachers and staff are exposed to a COVID-19 case in a school setting.

“We always advocate for preventative measures that keep our children safe,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, MDHHS chief medical executive. “Children of school age – ages 5 and up – are now eligible to get vaccinated, and children ages 12 and up are eligible to get boosted. In addition to masking and testing, we feel confident that schools can remain as safe as possible for our children.”

Quarantine and isolation are determined by the local health department and are used as important tools to prevent the spread of disease.

  • You isolatewhen you are already infected with COVID-19 and have tested positive, even if you do not have symptoms. Isolation is used to separate people who are infected with COVID-19 from those who are not infected.
  • You quarantine when you might have been exposed to COVID-19. This is because you might become infected with COVID-19 and could spread COVID-19 to others.

Overview of COVID-19 Isolation Guidance for K-12 Schools  

  • Students, teachers & staff who test positive for COVID-19 and/or display COVID-19 symptoms should isolate regardless of vaccination status: 
  • If positive with no symptoms, monitor for symptoms from day of exposure through day 10 of isolation; and
  • Isolate at home for 5 days (day “0” is day symptoms begin or day test was taken for students, teachers & staff who do not have symptoms); and
  • If symptoms have improved or you continue to have no symptoms, return to school, while wearing a well-fitted mask, for days 6 -10; or
  • Stay home for 10 days if unwilling/unable to wear a mask.

If you have a fever, stay home until you are fever free for a period of 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medications.

Overview of COVID-19 Quarantine Guidance for K-12 Schools 

  • Close contacts of a COVID-19 case do not need to quarantine at home if they:

These contacts should still monitor their symptoms and “Mask to Stay” for 10 days from the date of last exposure.

  • Close contacts of a COVID-19 case who do not meet the criteria above need to quarantine or may test to stay and/or mask to stay. Exposed individuals may:
  • Home quarantine for days 1-5, if feasible test on day 5, AND “Mask to Stay” for days 6-10; or
  • Test to Stay” for days 1-6 AND “Mask to Stay” for days 1-10; or
  • Home quarantine for days 1-10 if unable/unwilling to mask

Students, teachers & staff should monitor for symptoms throughout quarantine period (days 1 through 10). Day “0” is day of last close contact with any COVID-19 positive student, teacher or staff.  If symptoms develop, get tested. 

Symptom Monitoring

During days 0-10 following exposure:

  • Watch for symptoms, such as fever, cough, shortness of breath or other COVID-19 symptoms.
  • If symptoms develop, get tested immediately and isolate until receiving test results. If test is positive, then follow isolation recommendations.
  • If symptoms do not develop, get tested at least five days after last exposed.
  • If possible, stay away from others in the home, especially people who are at higher risk of getting very sick from COVID-19.

For the full 10 days after last exposure, avoid people who are immunocompromised or at high risk for severe disease, and nursing homes and other high-risk settings

Test to Stay: test every other day for 6 days following the exposure and consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask.

Mask to Stay: is the consistent and correct use of a well-fitted mask when around others and in school and public settings.

For more information, visit

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