By Judith Fischer, president of AACFA
It’s no secret that our child welfare system has a long way to go in adequately addressing racial disparities.
We see these inequalities play out across the board – in adoption, juvenile justice and foster care. This issue was recently the focus of several recommendations made to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services by the state’s Child Welfare Improvement Task Force.
Some of the recommendations included changing the definitions of abuse and neglect, as well as obtaining funding for needed services and increasing mental health programming to reduce, and ultimately eliminate, systemic racism in our child welfare system.
The non-profit, accredited child welfare agencies that make up the Association of Accredited Child & Family Agencies stand ready to help our state address these disparities. All of Michigan’s children deserve a safe and loving place to call home, no matter where they come from or what they look like.
Data shows children of color make up more than half of Michigan’s foster care population, despite making up a minority of our state population. Children of color are more likely to be placed in institutional settings, where they are more likely to remain for an extended period. Eventually, many of these children age out of foster care without a family.
We must do better by these children, and work on solutions that eliminate this vicious cycle. Michigan’s children and families deserve that.
AACFA member organizations and our diverse leadership have the tools and expertise to help Michigan work on the task force’s recommendations. In fact, Michael Williams, CEO and president of one of our member organizations, Orchards Children’s Services, served as a member of the task force.
AACFA members offer a full continuum of care for Michigan’s children and families, and we urge the state to heed the task force’s recommendations so we can have a better child welfare system for ALL children.