Nominations open for Daniel J. Wright and Hon. Robert E. Weiss awards

 Nominations are being accepted for the 2014 Honorable Robert E. Weiss Awards, named in honor of the late Robert E. Weiss, Judge of the Genesee County Probate Court and a beloved advocate for children; and for the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes outstanding work in support of Michigan children and families.


Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan, then Michigan Supreme Court Justice, initiated forums in 2008 to identify the barriers to adoption for children who had a goal of adoption and an identified adoptive parent, yet had been waiting for more than a year for the adoption to be finalized. Since then, the State Court Administrative Office Child Welfare Services Division and DHS have co-hosted Adoption and Permanency Forums across the state to discuss innovative ways to expedite permanency for all children in foster care.

To celebrate the achievements of the Adoption & Permanency Forums, four awards are named in honor of Judge Weiss. Areas to be recognized include: 

Excellence in Working as a Team. This team will be commended for demonstrating excellent collaboration in reducing the length of time children were waiting for a permanent home. 

Excellence in Court Improvement. Team will be commended for implementing innovative solutions to reduce delays in court process and procedure. 

Excellence in Creative Solutions. This team will be commended for developing and implementing creative responses to adoption barriers. 

Excellence in Judicial Leadership. This judge will be commended for showing leadership and commitment to children through partnership with local community members.

Persons interested in submitting nominations for these awards should consider the following attributes and criteria: leadership in establishing collaborative relations to improve the permanency process; creative solutions to remove barriers unique to the community; judicial leadership to advance cases in a timely manner; and the team’s performance in finalizing permanency for children and families. 

Nominations should be submitted by Sept. 5, 2014 at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/2014WeissAwards.
 
Award recipients will be recognized at the Permanency Forum on Oct. 16 in Mount Pleasant. For further information, contact Casey Anbender at 517-373-5234 or AnbenderC@
courts.mi.gov. 

Nominations are also sought for the Daniel J. Wright Lifetime Achievement Award honoring exceptional service to Michigan’s children.  

The award, jointly sponsored by the Michigan Supreme Court and the Michigan Department of Human services, was established in honor of the late Daniel J. Wright of Grand Ledge. He was an attorney and longtime leader in child support and child welfare reform and was credited with the “Michigan Miracle” in 2002. As special assistant to then-Chief Justice Corrigan, he led the state’s efforts to upgrade Michigan’s child support enforcement system by federally mandated deadlines. Wright saved the state $142 million in federal fines and earned the state a $36 million refund for fines it had already paid. Later, as director of the Friend of the Court Bureau and Child Welfare Services divisions of the State Court Administrative Office, Wright helped create the state’s “Adoption Forums” to deal with adoption barriers that were stranding children in foster care. He worked on legislation to give foster children a greater voice in
decisions about their lives. The law now requires courts to consult the child when holding a hearing about permanent home placement. 
 
 Nominations are open to attorneys, judges, caseworkers, court employees, employees of public and private agencies, employees and members of non-profits, and others who have a significant record of helping Michigan families and children. To be eligible, a nominee must have 10 years or more experience in his or her field and must have a record of achievements with demonstrable impact. 

To nominate a candidate for the Wright Award, complete the form which can be found at http://courts.mi.gov/News-Events/press_releases/Documents/Wright%20Award%20News%20Release%202014.pdf, and return it according to the instructions on the form; the deadline is October 1, 2014.
 
The Wright Award recipient will be honored at the 2014 Michigan Adoption Day event at the Michigan Hall of Justice on November 25.