Michigan Dept. of Human Services prevails in appeal of federal audit

Michigan Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan on Monday announced that the DHS prevailed in a federal appeal and, as a result, passed a 2010 audit of its performance of the federal IV-E program in Michigan. Title IV-E of the federal Social Security Act covers federal funding for Michigan's foster care and adoption assistance programs.

In June 2010, the DHS underwent a federal review of the state's program operation. The weeklong review of 80 foster care cases determined whether DHS had correctly determined eligibility for children under its care and custody. The state was allowed to have a 5 percent error rate, or four cases.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families notified Michigan last August that the state did not pass the review because it identified six error cases. Two of the error cases resulted in a total disallowance of $67,264 in federal funds.

The Michigan attorney general, on behalf of DHS, appealed this finding to the federal Department Appeals Board in November 2010. The federal board issued a decision Jan. 14 finding for the DHS. It reversed the disallowance and ruled Michigan is operating the Title IV-E program in accordance with federal regulations.

"The Department of the Attorney General provided DHS with excellent legal representation in our appeal of the federal review findings," Corrigan said. "Moreover, the entire team for DHS and the State Court Administrators Office deserves our praise for their fine work in conducting the preparation for the review."

The federal IV-E program provided about $224.2 million in funds for the Michigan foster care and adoption programs during fiscal year 2009, the most recent year for which records are available.

Because of the decision, Michigan will not be required to conduct a subsequent federal onsite review until 2013. The 2010 review was Michigan's third of the IV-E program since 2004.

Michigan Supreme Court Chief Justice Robert P. Young, Jr. commended both Corrigan and the attorney general for their advocacy on behalf of Michigan's children and on the proper operation of the Title IV-E federal program.

"Former Justice Corrigan made the commitment to DHS several years ago that she would work to assure courts operated in compliance with federal Title IV-E program regulations," said Young.

"Her tireless commitment and advocacy resulted in outstanding news for Michigan with this review. The Supreme Court will continue to work with former Justice Corrigan in her new role as DHS director to continue the same high level of collaboration."

Young also praised SCAO's Child Welfare Services Division for its work on the audit and appeal: "In particular, we should acknowledge CWS Management Analyst Jenifer Pettibone, who played a leading role on this successful appeal," Young said. "Pettibone's work is a fine example of how the judicial branch has supported DHS, not only in this appeal process, but also in child welfare work in general."

For more information about DHS, visit www.michigan.gov/dhs. Follow DHS on Twitter @MichiganDHS or become a fan at www.facebook.com/MichiganDHS.

Published: Wed, Jan 26, 2011