Skip to comments.No more iPods or paid parking tickets; DHS updates rules on how it'll help foster kids
Posted on 03/13/2012 2:49:37 PM PDT by Kieri
LANSING Michigan has made several changes to its Foster Youth in Transition Program in light of an audit that found it spent thousands of dollars on iPods, prom dresses, senior trips and a traffic ticket.
The audit, released last month, found that the Michigan Department of Human Services did not effectively evaluate and monitor the payments and services it provided to youth transitioning out of foster care. The program is 80 percent funded by federal funds and 20 percent with state general fund dollars.
State representatives questioned DHS officials about the audit and changes made during a House committee hearing Tuesday afternoon.
Rep. Tom McMillin, R-Rochester Hills, questioned how the state ended up paying a youths parking ticket.
Mary Chaliman, foster care manager, wouldnt comment on that particular case, but said that perhaps a ticket could have been paid in order to allow a youth to drive to and from work.
I think part of this training has to be around, when do we hold youth accountable for the mistakes that they make and when do we offer assistance, she said. We are really working on that in terms of talking to workers about how they make the decision to use (Youth in Transition) funds.
The audit found that the state reimbursed one person $600 for prom-related expenses, including nearly $400 for a dress. It also paid more than $5,000 to pay for summer camp and voice lessons for one youth.
In January the department updated its policy to limit prom dress or tuxedo rental payments to $100 and interview clothing to a maximum of $250. It also lists several expenses that should not be covered by the program, including entertainment appliances, graduation parties and traffic tickets.
DHS takes these audit findings seriously, Chaliman testified on Tuesday. A flexibility of the funding enables creative solutions to complex problems and we dont want to lose the ability to provide a youth with the tools needed to reach his or her dreams.
She provided the example of an autistic boy in foster care who was able to better communicate after the department spent nearly $1,000 to purchase him an iPad. The boys improved communication led to a permanent placement with a relative, Chaliman said.
The department is required to submit a plan for addressing the audit issues next month.
Rep. Bradford Jacobsen, R-Oxford, asked how the department would learn from its errors and carry it over to other DHS programs.
The department is looking at expenditure tracking, internal controls and quality assurance in other programs as well as in foster youth assistance, said Steve Yager, DHS director of childrens services.
Its an opportunity for us to learn and to look at other areas where we can make corrections before problems occur, Yager said.
Email Melissa Anders at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter: @MelissaDAnders.
Foster care parents get a very small amount each month for clothing, shoes, etc. It in no way covers what these kids need. And to waste it on a prom dress is just despicable.
Oh, these are state and FEDERAL funds being spent. Isn't that special? And MI has record numbers of kids on food stamps and in foster care.
As someone who was in the foster care system (eleven homes in five and half years) it is completely f### up.
One set of my grandparents were foster parents for a particularly violent classification of teens. My sisters and I never really had a relationship with our grandparents because of it.
You want to give kids tools to succeed, teach them how to work and get them summer jobs so they develop a work ethic. Giving people money almost never helps them do better. The old(Christian)saying of "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, but teach him how to fish and you feed him for a life time" is all too true and just as relevant today as it was thousands of years ago.
I have a friend who has fostered many kids here in MI.
She has adopted four of them.
Do you know that when kids turn 18 and are no longer in the foster system they leave with only what people gift to them? SO while they are paying for Ipods and parking tickets, kids turn 18 and are cut free.
If it wasn’t for churches and charities, they would leave their last foster home with nothing but the clothes on their backs. It’s sad.
If this is so, it was money well spent. Treatment of autism can easily cost over 50 times that amount per year.