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New program offers Michigan kids alternative to foster care

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Michigan's Department of Human Services (DHS) is piloting a new program designed to keep "at risk" kids in their homes instead of handing them over to foster care.

The program will target families with children younger than five years of age.

From DHS:

A Title IV-E waiver allows the department to use federal funds for the federally approved pilot project over the next five years. Michigan is one of nine states chosen for a pilot project waiver starting in 2013. Usually, Title IV-E dollars must be spent for the placement of eligible children into licensed foster care. This waiver permits DHS to use a portion of these same funds for innovation that helps prevent the need for foster care.

DHS said the goal of the project was to work directly with families to prevent the abuse and neglect that leads some children into foster care.

"Research confirms what most people instinctively know: All things being equal, the best place for children is in their own home with their own family," said Maura Corrigan, DHS Director. "Under this federal waiver, the department will use funding to wrap around at-risk families with vital services- keeping children both at home and safe."

The pilot, beginning August 1, 2013,  will initially be limited to Macomb, Kalamazoo and Muskegon counties. All three counties have higher than average rates of children in foster care.

- Jordan Wyant, Michigan Radio Newsroom

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