Thursday, May 17, 2012

Foster care in Michigan: Did the state’s child welfare chief mislead the public on purpose ...

…or was she just appallingly ignorant herself?

That’s the question raised by the latest outstanding investigative report from WXYZ-TV in Detroit.  In a series of reports dating back to last August, the station exposed the fact that probation officers were – literally – rubber stamping court orders to tear children from their families; orders that are supposed to be approved only by a real live judge.  The issue first came to light as a result of Maryanne Godboldo’s fight to rescue her daughter from needless institutionalization by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Not surprisingly, that happens to be illegal.  But the practice was stopped only after WXYZ exposed it.

But the Wayne County Juvenile Court refuses to release any information about how many children were removed illegally or what has happened to them.  Neither will the Michigan Department of Human Services – unless the television station pays more than $32,000.  In effect, DHS is holding what should be public information for ransom.

If anyone should be scrupulous about adhering to the law it is the Director of Michigan DHS, Maura Corrigan.  After all, she is a former justice of the Michigan Supreme Court.

But, as WXYZ reported:

Following one of our first stories a year ago about child removals, DHS Director Maura Corrigan refused to speak to us on camera.  The day after our investigation aired, Corrigan wrote an opinion piece in the Detroit Free Press.  The headline: “Removing children from families always follows legal procedures.”

Now that that’s been proven to be false – we asked a DHS spokesman if they have been trying to determine how many children may have been wrongly taken from homes with invalid court orders. [Emphasis added.]

This raises an obvious question: Did Corrigan know full well that the process of removing children from their homes in Detroit was rife with illegality when she claimed otherwise – or was she appallingly ignorant herself?

If it’s the latter, it appears Corrigan has been doing nothing to educate herself.  Because in answer to WXYZ’s question, the agency said it is not lifting a finger to find out how many other children were affected by illegal rubber-stamp removals.

And if you’re wondering what the group that so arrogantly calls itself “Children’s Rights” – the group that has a consent decree with Michigan DHS – is doing about all this, the answer is: absolutely nothing.  More than nine months after the illegal rubber-stamp removals were revaled, CR hasn’t said a word about them.

But at least one member of Congress isn’t settling for silence and stonewalling.  In a follow up story, WXYZ reports that Representative Hansen Clarke (D – Detroit) is asking the U.S. Department of Justice to investigate Corrigan’s agency.