LawRefs Customized Legal Information
Attorney Renee C. Walsh

Short Overview of Michigan Foster Care

The Michigan Foster Care Services Program is administered by the Department of Human Services. It provides placement and supervision of children who are temporary or permanent court or state wards. A child who is a ward of the court or state is a child who cannot remain at home because their family is unable to provide minimal care and supervision or whose parents’ parental rights have been terminated.

The foster care program has a goal to preserve the child’s family where possible and this means providing services that can resolve the problem at home, so the child may be returned.

How can foster care become involved? Foster Care will not become involved until a member of the community reports possible abuse, neglect or abandonment of a child by the parent, legal guardian or any other person responsible for the child’s health or welfare. If there is such a report, Children’s Protective Services will investigate the situation to determine if it is safe for the child to remain in the home. If it is assessed that the child is unsafe, the Department of Human Service may petition the family court to intervene and possibly issue an order to remove the child from the home so that they may be placed in Foster Care.

Both the child abuse and neglect criminal law and the child protection law define “child” as a person who is under the age of 18. “Child abuse” is harm or threatened harm to a child’s health or welfare by a person responsible for the child’s health or welfare. The harm may actually occur or may be threatened. It may be physical or mental. “Neglect” is harm to a child’s health or welfare by a person responsible for the child’s health or welfare which occurs through negligent treatment, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care. The child protection law provides for the protection of all children who are abused or neglected. It requires the reporting of child abuse and neglect by certain persons, and permits the reporting of child abuse and neglect by all persons. It also also allows for authorization of limited detainment in protective custody and medical examinations.

Additional Resources:

For more information about Michigan’s Foster Care Program or other Department of Human Services programs visit Michigan Department Human Services.

Michigan Licensing Rules


  1. Can a Foster Parent fight a Case Worker’s judgment in a case? The Biological Mother was allowed to have her supervised visits while high on weed to the knowledge of the Case Worker. I want to help the Foster Mother fight to keep these children because the Court has added additional days to the Biological Mother’s visitation despite her non-compliance. She has missed numerous visits in addition to her drug use.

    • Dear Kristy:

      What a person would have to do is go to the case worker’s superior and/or to write a letter to be placed in the file. This type of action may lay a foundation for future court action relative to areas which the court will become involved, such as to make the final decisions to terminate parental rights, to return children home, and to approve changes in goals to permanent or long-term foster care. Under the Adoption and Safe Families Act, courts are required to hold hearings on a case once a child has been in foster care for 6 months. At that next hearing, if a proper foundation has been laid, there may be an opportunity to speak on the issue.

      Consider, however, that the smoking marijuana may be legal; that the all case workers start out with a goal of reunification; and that unless a layperson is not qualified to provide a credible opinion as to a case worker’s decision making.

  2. Can a person that has a Foster Care license in the State of Michigan file for bankruptcy, without losing their license or their wards?

    • Dear Diana T.:

      Yes, it may because bankruptcy is relevant to a foster parent’s ability to be a proper fiduciary of the money allotted for the care of the ward and under R 400.9201(g), a foster home applicant or licensee shall have a defined legal source of income, and be capable of managing that income, to meet the needs of the foster family.