LANSING, Mich., May 31, 2022 — Last week, the Michigan House of Representatives passed a bipartisan legislative package that aims to improve Michigan’s foster care and adoption system. Bills in the package would encourage paid adoption leave through a tax credit for employers and make it easier for foster children to be placed in the home of a relative, among several other measures.

“It is critical to optimize and adequately resource our foster care system so we can diminish the anguish that foster children so often experience,” said state Rep. Sarah Anthony (D-Lansing), sponsor of House Bill 5981, which would reclassify a qualified residential treatment program as a residential use of property under Michigan zoning law. “There are things we can do to streamline the system to make life easier for foster children and parents, whether it’s extending the licenses of foster family homes, implementing family finding and engagement services, or easing zoning restrictions to support residential treatment programs. This package prioritizes the needs of this uniquely vulnerable population and lends support to those who serve them.”

In January 2021, the Legislature formed the bipartisan House Adoption and Foster Care Task Force, which included Rep. Anthony. Its mission was to conduct comprehensive research and provide specific actionable recommendations for legislative, administrative and judicial reform to the state’s adoption and foster care system. Over six months, the task force conducted informal hearings with those in the field and identified 10 problems and recommendations, which informed the recently passed package.