LANSING, MI (WTVB) - Branch County would seem to be the perfect fit for a new state program linking religious agencies with “at-risk” families with the goal of keeping more children together with those families that are at risk. The Department of Human Services Thursday launched the Protect MiFamily initiative. The most recent state reports have identified Branch County as having the second highest per-capita rate in Michigan of child abuse and neglect cases. However, the five year pilot program will debut only in three counties for now, in Kalamazoo, Macomb, and Muskegon counties.
Protect MiFamily is the Department's effort under the new Title 4-E waiver approved by the feds. DHS Director Maura Corrigan says there's been a real disconnect between what we want for children and families and what we can afford. According to Corrigan, reallocating funding from the federal government into early intervention to prevent abuse and neglect is a smart investment. The children involved in the pilot program will be from zero to five, and determined by Children's Protection Services to be at high or intensive risk for future maltreatment. Lutheran Social Services of Michigan and Catholic Charities of West Michigan will partner with DHS for the Protect MiFamily effort .
DHS has also partnered with research consultant Westat and the University of Michigan to provide ongoing evaluation of the project.