Monroe County Juvenile Services receives $ 119,000 grant

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Monroe County Juvenile Services and Probate Court receives $ 119,000 federal grant that ensures families and children in the child welfare system receive high quality legal services at all stages of child welfare proceedings. childhood.

Melissa M. Strong, director of juvenile services and administrator of the county estates court, announced the grant to county commissioners last week. The Commissioners approved 8-0 to accept the Child and Parent Legal Representation Grant through Title IV-E which is made available by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Title IV-E is a federal funding mechanism that covers the cost and support of the supervision of children in foster care.

“We are delighted with that,” Strong told Commissioners. “We think this is a great opportunity to do our best as a community and be more innovative. “

The grant does not require matching funds from the county, but rather allows the county to receive reimbursement for a portion of payments made to attorneys for legal representation of children and parents, Strong said. The reimbursement rate is determined by a formula that depends on the number of children in the county placed in foster care and eligible for the title, Strong said in a letter to the commissioners.

“Our goal is to improve child-parent legal services,” Strong said. “The desired result is to resolve these cases more quickly and to provide permanence to the children.”

She said the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the county in terms of cases of neglect and abuse. Because schools have either been closed or switched to virtual classroom learning, there aren’t as many children reported for neglect and abuse.

“I hope we don’t have a big impact when things change,” she said. “These are difficult cases for our lawyers. Families need the best representation. The goal is to let (the children) stay with their families and not be in juvenile court. “

County administrator Michael Bosanac said since 2018 the number of neglect and abuse cases in juvenile courts and the number of delinquency cases have declined. In 2018, the county spent $ 314,000 for a total of 466 cases, while in 2020 it spent $ 219,246 for a total of 265 cases. So far this year, the county has spent $ 112,763 on 176 cases.

Strong said the following two initiatives have been launched to resolve cases more quickly and ensure the permanence of children:

–Compensate lawyers appointed by the court to provide ancillary legal services that are not usually provided during child protection proceedings in order to remove obstacles to the return of children to their homes. Examples could include restoring a driver’s license, applying for Social Security benefits, and changing custody orders.

–Provide incentives through compensation for court-appointed lawyers to undergo training specifically focused on child protection topics, such as how to identify the dynamics of sexual abuse, how the authors prepare children, how trauma affects brain development, and how to listen to and help a child who has disclosed sexual abuse.

“These are topics that lawyers usually have little or no training on and are essential in providing the court with a clear understanding of the dynamics of each child protection case,” she said.


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