Amid all the concern over children in the child welfare and juvenile justice systems forced to endure makeshift placements — some even shipped more than a thousand miles away — Michigan has lost sight of the real causes of the problem. As a result, everyone from the state’s probate judges to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services pursue solutions that will make things worse.
At the root of the placement crisis is the fact that
Michigan tears apart so many families needlessly. The typical cases seen by
DHHS caseworkers are nothing like the horror stories. Far more common are cases
in which poverty is confused with neglect. In Michigan, 17 percent of children
were thrown into foster care because their parents lacked adequate housing —
that’s more than were taken because of physical abuse. …