Foster Care Review Board seeks nominations for annual honors

Do you know any judges or lawyers who have worked to make the state’s foster care system a better one? Then the Foster Care Review Board wants to hear about them.

The board is now accepting nominations for its annual Child Welfare Awards, in categories including “Jurist of the Year” (judges and referees), “Foster Care Worker of the Year,” “LGAL of the Year” (lawyer-guardian ad litem), “Foster Parent of the Year,” and “Parent Attorney of the Year.”

Award recipients will be recognized at the FCRB annual training conference Nov.  9 in Lansing.

Nomination forms are available online here. For more information, contact Kathy Lohr at (313) 972-3288 or lohrk@courts.mi.gov.

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Guardianship and default court rule changes proposed

A proposed court rule amendment, if adopted by the Michigan Supreme Court, would clear the way for the state to receive federal funding for a program that extends foster care services for qualifying youths.

Two new laws, 2011 PA 225 and 2011 PA 229, spell out the circumstances under which youths who left the foster care program at age 18 can re-enter the program and receive additional services until they are 21.

The proposed amendment of MCR 3.979 would implement judicial oversight of a youth’s continuing eligibility for the extended services:

If extended guardianship assistance has been provided to a youth pursuant to MCL 400.665, the court shall conduct an annual review hearing at least once every 12 months after the youth’s eighteenth birthday to determine that the guardianship meets the criteria under MCL 400.667.

Notice of the hearing shall be sent to the guardian and the youth as provided in MCR 3.920(D)(1). The court shall issue an order to support its determination and serve the order on the Department of Human Services, the guardian, and the youth.

According to the staff comment accompanying the proposed amendment, “Adoption of the proposed amendment will enable Michigan to receive federal Title IV-E funding for the post-18 guardianship program.”

The MSC is also proposing a change to MCR 2.603 (Default and Default Judgments).

“The proposed amendment of MCR 2.603 would clarify that a court clerk could enter a default judgment if the requested damages are less than the amount claimed in the original complaint, to reflect payments that may have been made or otherwise credited,” according to the staff comment.

The comment period for the proposals closes Aug. 1, 2012. Please refer to the link for each proposal for information to submit comments.

Foster Care Review Board honors attorney, professor, judge

Three members of the State Bar were announced Thursday as recipients of the Foster Care Review Board’s 2011 Child Welfare Awards.

Department of Human Services Director Maura D. Corrigan presented the awards at the FCRB’s annual conference in Southfield.

Cheboygan attorney Donna Hansel received Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem of the Year Award. Besides having represented children in foster care for eight years, she also is a licensed foster parent, having fostered more than 50 children.

Hansel’s nominator, Judge Robert John Butts of the Cheboygan County Probate Court, noted her “exceptional representation” of children, including efforts she made to find a permanent home for three young children whose parents died in a boating accident.

University of Michigan Law School Professor Vivek Sankaran was named Parent Attorney of the Year. He directs the Child Advocacy Clinic at the University of Michigan Law School, and also founded the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy.

And, Judge Leslie Kim Smith of Wayne County Circuit Court received the Jurist of the Year Award for her work as a family court judge. The FCRB cited the 24-year judge’s creation of an expedited reunification docket and parent orientation project, which helps increase the number of children reunified with their parents and reduce the time children spend in foster care.

Created by the Michigan Legislature in 1981, the FCRB serves as a statewide system of third-party review of the foster care system. It’s administered by the State Court Administrative Office, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.

Foster Care Review Board looking for a few good judges, attorneys

The Foster Care Review Board is seeking nominations for its annual Child Welfare Awards, which honor judges, lawyers, foster care workers, and foster parents for exemplary service to children in Michigan’s foster care system.

“The awards recognize those who protect, care for, and advocate for foster care children and their parents,” said James Novell, FCRB program manager. “These people have tremendous responsibilities, yet receive little, if any, recognition. The Child Welfare Awards were established to honor them and call attention to their difficult and demanding work.”

Categories include Jurist of the Year (judges and referees); Foster Care Worker of the Year, LGAL of the Year (lawyer guardians ad litem); Foster Parent of the Year; and Parent Attorney of the Year.

Deadline is Sept 15. Award recipients will be recognized at the Nov. 10 FCRB annual training conference. Nomination forms can be found at http://www.courts.michigan.gov/scao/services/fcrb/fcrb.htm.

The FCRB provides a third-party review of the foster care system, and is administered by the State Court Administrative Office.

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Foster Care Review Board announces 2010 awards

Two attorneys and a Saginaw County probate judge are among those honored by the Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) at its recently concluded 2010 conference.

Saginaw County Probate Judge Faye Harrison received the Jurist of the Year Award for her work as a family court judge.

Harrison, a 30-year veteran, was nominated by Barbara Hill, chair of the FCRB volunteer board in Saginaw County, as “a wonderful and expressive advocate for children’s justice who has truly made a difference in the lives of children in Saginaw County.”

Harrison, a past president of the Michigan Probate Judges Association, was cited for her leadership on the state and national level.

Tracy Green, managing attorney of the Detroit Center for Family Advocacy, received the FCRB’s Parent Attorney of the Year Award for her representation of parents in child welfare cases.

University of Michigan Law School Prof. Vivek Sankeran, who nominated Green, praised her as a “passionate and tireless advocate for parents.” Sankeran described Green as “nurturing and attentive … [she] is well respected by jurists and her attorney colleagues in Wayne County, where she practices, for her professionalism, expert knowledge and zealous representation of her clients.”

The Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem of the Year Award was presented to Viola King, an attorney with the Juvenile Law Group in Wayne County.

Wayne County Family Court Referee Ilene Weiss Fruitman, who nominated King, described King as “the best and most professional representative and advocate for children of all who have practiced before me in my 13 years on the bench.”

King is esteemed by her colleagues in the child welfare system, Fruitman reported, and “has the rare quality of truly listening to what [her clients] are saying, as well as being able to hear what they are not saying.”

The FCRB, which was created by the Michigan legislature in 1981, serves as a statewide system of third-party review of the foster care system.

The program is administered by the State Court Administrative Office, the administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.

Local boards review randomly chosen child abuse and neglect cases to assess the performance of courts, Department of Human Services and private child welfare agencies.

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Foster Care Review Board names three for exemplary child advocacy

Marquette County Probate Judge Michael J. Anderegg, attorney Rubina Mustafa and Department of Human Services caseworker Jeannine Benedetti have been named as recipients of Foster Care Review Board (FCRB) awards for their leadership and advocacy on behalf of children.

Jim Novell, who serves as Program Manager of the FCRB, said that the awards are given for exemplary rendering of service on behalf of abused and neglected children and families served by our state child welfare system.

“The recipients stand out not only for their professionalism and performance, but also for their dedication,” Novell said.

Anderegg received the board’s Jurist Award. The FCRB noted Anderegg’s “efforts to ensure safe and timely permanency for the children who come under his jurisdiction,” adding that the judge “has made significant contributions … in caring for our state’s most vulnerable children and families.”

Mustafa received the Lawyer-Guardian Ad Litem Award. The FCRB praised Mustafa as a zealous advocate who “goes above and beyond the statutory responsibilities of a L-GAL, remaining accessible to her clients at all hours and always looking for ways to push them toward
success.”

Benedetti was presented with the Foster Care Caseworker Award. In naming Benedetti for the award, the FCRB cited her “tireless advocacy,” noting that “she is a mentor, listening ear, and friend” who makes herself available outside of working hours to assist her young clients.

The FCRB, which was created by the Michigan legislature in 1981, serves as a statewide system of third-party review of the foster care system. The program is administered by the State Court Administrative Office, the administrative agency of the Michigan Supreme Court, and is comprised of citizen volunteers who serve on one of 30 local review boards throughout the state.