Michigan Department of Human Services

Michigan lawmakers want you to decide on roads.
Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio

The Michigan Department of Human Services said it is eliminating jobs because of a $7.5 million dollar budget cut.

According to spokesman Bob Wheaton, the department has notified employee unions.

Wheaton said it is too soon to know the net reduction in jobs or the total number of layoffs.

"There certainly will end up being some people who are laid off," he said. "But we're hoping it will be as close to zero as possible."

Jake Neher / MPRN

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says she'll leave her post at the end of the year.

The Detroit Free Press reports that the former Michigan Supreme Court justice says she wants to spend more time with her grandchildren.

Corrigan was appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder in 2011 to lead the state's welfare agency. She served on the state's high court from 1999 to 2010.

Corrigan says she told Snyder she'd lead the department for four years.

AdeptDrivers / Creative Commons

A state lawmaker says the threat of losing driving privileges would be a good way to discourage kids from skipping school.

Families who receive state aid can lose their benefits if their child repeatedly skips school. It’s a policy some legislators want to codify in law.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

Hundreds of thousands of Michiganders who rely on government programs to put food on their table will be getting less money to buy groceries starting November First.

Back in 2009, the federal government pumped billions of dollars into food assistance programs. The money came from the federal economic stimulus. But that ends November first.  After that, Michiganders getting help buying food from the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program will see their monthly benefits drop by about five to ten percent.

Steve Carmody/Michigan Radio

The state kicked more than 500 people off food assistance and other welfare programs over the past 12 months because they won the Lottery.

But, a member of Governor Rick Snyder’s cabinet wants thousands more people be kicked off public assistance because of their Lottery winnings.

A new report says 14% of Lottery winners in Michigan live in a household where someone is on public assistance. There’s a law that requires the state to check the name of everyone who wins more than a thousand dollars against the rolls for many programs.

User: Brother O'Mara / flickr

House and Senate plans for Department of Human Services differ

Republicans in the state Senate have approved a budget which would cut about 270 jobs from the Michigan Department of Human Services. This plan contrasts a more drastic budget cut passed by a House subcommittee yesterday which proposes eliminating more than 1,000 jobs from the agency. The Department of Human Services handles things like the state's child welfare, juvenile justice, and food assistance programs.

Governor Snyder hoping for a bipartisan solution to fixing state roads

Governor Rick Snyder is looking to Democrats to help design a bipartisan solution for fixing the state’s roads.

“Republicans control the House and Senate, but have not reached a consensus on how to raise the needed money. The governor says he’s asking Democrats as well as Republicans to put their ideas on the table in hopes of forging a deal,” Rick Pluta reports.

Disagreements over right-to-work sanctions

Sanctions for schools and colleges that ratified new union contracts were not included in state Senate budgets passed yesterday.

“Republicans in the state House want to punish schools for signing long-term contracts that would get around the state’s new right-to-work law. A Senate budget subcommittee on community colleges left the plan out of its recommendation,” reports Jake Neher.

Mother and three small kids getting ready for school.
Jennifer Guerra / Michigan Radio

As part of our State of Opportunity project, we’re following parents as they struggle to get off public assistance and make a better future for their children. This is an update on one of those families.

I first interviewed Keisha Johnson on a steamy summer day last June. Johnson, 25, grew up poor and is still poor to this day. But she has three reasons she wants to climb out poverty, and their names are Kaleb, Jurnee, and Alan, Jr.

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A watchdog created by Michigan lawmakers to investigate child-welfare cases has no access to certain computers at the Department of Human Services.

An audit released Friday says the problem exists even eight years after creation of the Office of Children's Ombudsman. The ombudsman is an independent appointee with authority to investigate how the department handles child protection, foster care and juvenile justice.

The Department of Human Services says it doesn't have money to modify the computer system to give the ombudsman access. The agency is promising access in 2014.

Auditors say the ombudsman is supposed to see medical and mental health records as well as other documents. Verlie Ruffin has been ombudsman since 2006.

via Michigan State Housing Development Authority

A Detroit state representative says a child’s death this week raises serious questions about Michigan’s child welfare system.

Rashida Tlaib is calling for an investigation after a nine-year-old girl died Sunday at the Martin Luther King apartments on the city's east side.

The girl was stabbed in the chest. The Wayne County Medical Examiner ruled the death a homicide, and police have sought an arrest warrant for her mother.

Unemployment line in California
Michael Raphael / Flickr

Applicants for cash assistance in Michigan will have to go through a new 21-day assessment.

The state Department of Human Services Wednesday said the program is meant to bolster applicants’ job prospects.

The PATH program will replace a less intensive job training program.

DHS spokesman Dave Akerly said many people can’t find or keep a job because they have trouble finding child care and transportation.

Flint, Mich.
Flint Michigan / Facebook.com

A judge in Flint has given the Michigan Department of Human Services until Aug. 10 to process 5,000 or more remaining applications for cash assistance from people whose benefits were ended because of a five-year federal limit.

Genesee County Circuit Judge Geoffrey Neithercut imposed the deadline today during a hearing on a complaint from the Center for Civil Justice.  The complaint accused the Michigan DHS of intentionally processing the assistance applications slowly while it waited for decisions from the Court of Appeals and the Michigan Supreme Court.

On June 27, the state Court of Appeals ruled that Michigan can end benefits under a five-year federal limit, even if recipients still might qualify for cash under state law.

Michigan has a four-year limit, but the state stops the clock when someone with a disability can't work or when people care for a disabled spouse or child.

The state says following the stricter federal cap could save $70 million a year.

In a press release sent out today, DHS Director Maura Corrigan said the judge's ruled window for processing applications is reasonable. She said,

We are and have been committed to complying with this court’s orders. The completion date of August 10th set forth by the court today is well within our internal timeline already in place.

MLive.com reports that the groups will return to court Aug. 20 if DHS fails to process all of the cases by the deadline.

-Elaine Ezekiel, Michigan Radio News

A fight is brewing between the Detroit City Council, Mayor Dave Bing, and the state.

State officials say the Detroit Department of Human Services is so corrupt and incompetent it should no longer handle federal funds.

They want the Detroit City Council to agree to that. But the Council wants to hear more specifics—and a request from Mayor Dave Bing—before they act.

My favorite new magazine is nice to look at, isn’t printed on paper, and has eye-opening new information about our state twice a week. It’s called Bridge, and it is published online by the non-partisan, non-profit Center for Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Best of all, it’s free. The title comes from the magazine’s purpose, which is to inform citizens in both peninsulas about the serious issues facing our state -- but do so in an interesting, well-written way, according to Center for Michigan founder Phil Power.

Michigan has begun sending out notices to some families receiving welfare benefits to notify them that their federal assistance is running out. The Detroit Free Press reports the change may affect nearly 14,000 families who had passed a five-year federal limit but got the time extended. Notices began going out Tuesday that include contact information for caseworkers who will try to help families find other assistance programs.

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan says the notices come at the same time the state is revamping how it hands out assistance. It's also planning to put into effect a four-year limit in most cases for families receiving welfare benefits.

The limit could begin Oct. 1. Critics say such a limit would boot some needy families off public assistance.

A court appointed monitor watching over Michigan’s child protective
services warns that system is “substantially non-compliant” with a court agreement. 
The state agreed to make measurable improvements to its child welfare system when it settled a lawsuit with New York-based Children’s Rights group in 2008.
But two years later, a monitor says the state Department of Human Services has shown a “frustrating lack of progress” in implementing reforms.
Sarah Bartosz, a senior attorney for Children’s Rights, says the state is about a year behind where it should be.