State of Opportunity: When funding dries up for programs that help kids

Aug 22, 2012

This week, Michigan Radio's State of Opportunity reporter explores a pilot project in Michigan that helped kids and reduced state caseloads.

So why, he asks, is it ending?

The story starts with a woman Dwyer calls "Mary," whose husband brutally abused her for years.

She fled her home, and her husband wound up in prison, but the events left her children with emotional issues.

"He would hit me, he would yell at me, he would spit at me," Mary says. "I mean, just, I couldn’t control him, I couldn’t."

Her family got some relief from a children's therapist who helped Mary's son learn to express his anger through words.

The costs of this service were covered by Prevention Pilot Project, which uses federal grant money to pay for programs at 11 social service agencies in Wayne, Oakland, Genesee and Kent Counties.

The programs offered home visits, counseling and education to keep at-risk families from becoming essentially, part of the system – in foster care, or abuse cases or the juvenile justice system.

Everyone Dwyer talked to about this project says it’s been a big success.

The problem, he explains, is all of this was funded with federal grant money. And that money is going away.

Listen to the full story, in which Dwyer dives into bureaucracy, interviewing affected parents, program counselors, and those trying to find new ways to fund the program.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio Newsroom