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Auditor General’s report finds state needs better monitoring of foster, adoption placement agencies

two moms sitting with child sitting between them
Adobe Stock

A report released this week by Michigan's auditor general's office found lapses in the state’s oversight of agencies that place children in foster and adoptive homes.

The report detailed five key findings.

The first is that adoption records often remained available for weeks longer than they should have. Those records should only be accessible for 21 days, the report said, but in more than 90% of the cases auditors reviewed, the records were accessible for an average of 78 days beyond that.

The audit also found discrepancies between placement agencies’ rosters of children and the state’s rosters in nearly half the reviewed cases. In addition to those differences, the report showed the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services replaced more than half of the foster homes in its sample either “without reason” or with a reason that “likely would not justify” replacement.

Final findings in the report suggested the state needs to better monitor background checks at child placement agencies, better document its inspections, and formalize a way to identify trends within those agencies.

In general, though, the report said the state's processes were adequate. It labeled state oversight of fostering and adoption organizations as “effective, with exceptions.”

The state health department said it will make changes based on the report, like expanding its annual compliance review.

In an emailed statement, health department spokesperson Bob Wheaton laid out additional changes he said the department is committed to, including:

  • Citing agencies for not properly securing records;
  • Clarifying instructions to make clear citations are a possible outcome of not properly completing background checks;
  • Creating a way to identify trends in agency violations and putting it into place by January 2022

“MDHHS is committed to working with child placing agencies to make sure that children in care are placed in safe and loving foster homes and – if the goal is adoption – finding them loving permanent homes through adoption,” Wheaton said in the statement.