500+ Michigan families benefit from new state support before holidays

By Kyle Kaminski

December 8, 2023

New state resources designed to protect children from neglect have translated to food and housing help, medical care, and gas cards for more than 500 Michigan families.

MICHIGAN—A state-funded financial assistance program that launched this year in a dozen counties has delivered resources to more than 500 Michigan families over the last two months, according to officials at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Service (MDHHS).

The Family Impact Teams project, which was first announced by MDHHS in August, embedded more than a dozen family resource specialists within the department’s child protection and foster care teams, so they can support families in applying for food and housing benefits, Medicaid, and economic supports for basic needs—like gift cards for gasoline, so they can get to work.

And as of this week, more than 500 families have now reportedly benefited from the program, which currently operates across 12 counties, including Allegan, Barry, Chippewa, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, Leelanau, Luce, Mackinac, Oakland, Sanilac, St. Clair, and Wayne counties.

“If we can provide families with economic support, it’s more likely that children can remain safely with their parents instead of being placed in foster care,” MDHHS Director Elizabeth Hertel said in a statement on Wednesday. “And if foster care placement is needed, providing these economic supports can make it safe for the children to be reunified with their parents.”

The program is part of MDHHS’ “Keep Kids Safe” agenda, which includes more than 20 protocols and policies designed to improve the safety and well-being of Michigan children. 

Hertel said the overarching idea behind the initiative is to better protect children who are at risk of neglect by connecting their parents with more resources to meet their financial needs. 

Research has shown that providing childcare subsidies decreases child neglect by 31%, while referring homeless families to permanent housing decreases foster care placement by 50%. Connecting families to food assistance has also been shown to decrease child maltreatment.

State officials said they plan to roll out the program to Michigan’s 71 other counties in 2024.

READ MORE: New laws kick in to protect Michigan kids—and send abusers to prison

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  • Kyle Kaminski

    Kyle Kaminski is an award-winning investigative journalist with more than a decade of experience covering news across Michigan. Prior to joining The ‘Gander, Kyle worked as the managing editor at City Pulse in Lansing and as a reporter for the Traverse City Record-Eagle.

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