Michigan prepares for Syrian refugees

Capital News Service
LANSING — Michigan nonprofit organizations are preparing for an influx of Syrian refugees after the U.S. Senate rejected a bill that would stop them from entering the country. “We are expecting a new wave of refugees, especially that of Syrians,” said Ken Fouty, community outreach coordinator at Lutheran Social Services of Michigan based in Detroit. “We anticipate that it will happen in the summer.”
About 100 Syrian refugees were resettled by his organization in 2015. It is prepared to take about 300 more in response to the refugee crisis in Syria, he said. Michigan took in 180 refugees in total in 2015, said Erica Quealy, marketing specialist at  the  Department of Health and Human Services.

Rural areas lack mental health professionals

Capital News Service
LANSING — Amid a national shortage of psychiatrists, and Michigan is among the states that lack enough mental health professionals and facilities, according to a new report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “There is a shortage of service providers, psychiatrists and physicians that are able to work with people that have mental illness and prescribe medications,” said Kathleen Gross, executive director of the Michigan Psychiatric Society. “There is shortage of funding in the state for community mental health centers to provide a great deal of service to the citizens.”
The U.P. and Northeast Michigan face the most serious shortages, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services. Among 15 U.P. counties, 13 are designated as shortage areas. Ten of the 11 Northeast Michigan counties have the same designation.

State, advocates to renegotiate child welfare oversight

Capital News Service
LANSING – The Department of Human Services has withdrawn a motion to end federal oversight of its child welfare program and instead will negotiate for a new settlement with the children’s group that forced the intervention, according to department officials. Bob Wheaton, communications manager for the department, said by email that federal Judge Nancy Edmunds has encouraged DHS and advocacy group Children’s Rights to sit down and re-negotiate. Wheaton said the goal of a December motion to completely end oversight had been to obtain more flexibility in meeting the needs of children in Michigan’s child welfare system. Children’s Rights declined to comment. The federal oversight stems from a lawsuit filed by Children’s Rights in 2008 charging that Michigan caseloads were too high, and that, with 19,000 kids in the foster system, not enough children were finding permanent homes.