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MDHHS enhances work to address behavior health needs in foster care, juvenile justice system

Foster family smiling for a photo
Photo from D.A. Blodgett- St. Johns
Foster family

The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is enhancing its work with providers, to address behavioral health needs in foster care and juvenile justice systems

Children in the state foster care and juvenile justice systems experiencing a behavioral health crisis will have expanded access to services through a new effort by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).

MDHHS is asking congregate care providers to submit placement plans in their facilities addressing the needs of mental health stabilization programs –dealing with serious concerns, like suicidal thoughts.

The department has issued a statewide request for proposals for new child-caring institution contracts and will begin implementing them in summer 2023. MDHHS contracts with child-caring institutions to provide specialized treatment to youth in foster care or the juvenile justice system. In recent years it has been challenging in Michigan and nationally to find foster care and juvenile justice placements – especially residential therapeutic treatment beds.

MDHHS currently has contracts with 31 child-caring institutions to provide 800 beds, however, due to nationwide staffing shortages and other factors, these facilities provide fewer than 500 beds. The changes address a national need for expanded behavioral health services for youth.

To earn state contracts, facilities must demonstrate through the request for proposal process that they can meet the specialized needs of children.

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