By: Jason Smith, Executive Director at Michigan Center for Youth Justice
Last year, MCYJ worked to move our key policy priorities forward to transform the lives of Michigan children, youth, young adults, and their families. While the Debt-Free Justice bill package–that would put to an end the assessment and collection of most juvenile court fines and fees–did not advance in the previous legislative session, we are optimistic and ready for 2023. Through the efforts of the Task Force on Juvenile Justice Reform, ending juvenile fines and fees will accompany five other policy priorities in 2023. To ensure supporters like you stay informed, MCYJ will spotlight a priority in each monthly newsletter.
In this blog post, we will focus on one of the recommendations unanimously supported by the Task Force to enhance the Child Care Fund (CCF). The CCF is the primary funding vehicle for juvenile justice in the state. It is a financial reimbursement to counties and tribes for community-based programming for child welfare and juvenile justice-involved youth and placement costs for youth involved in juvenile justice cases. The cost of these services is initially paid 100% by the county or tribe, and then eligible costs are reimbursed by the state.
In this legislative session, MCYJ supports the Juvenile Justice Reform Task Force’s recommendation to enhance the Child Care Fund from the current reimbursement rate of 50% to 75% for community-based care, including pre-arrest diversion as a reimbursable expense and requiring the use of validated risk assessment tools to enable more objective decision making.
These important policy changes would have a tremendous impact across the state. Enhancing the CCF establishes a minimum framework of juvenile justice best practices statewide. These research-based approaches would allow agencies to better match youth to appropriate supervision and services. The new reimbursement structure would effectively incentivize and support the creation, expansion, and strengthening of community-based services and formal alternatives to detention and incarceration, including diversion, which have been proven to be more cost-effective and yield better outcomes for justice-involved youth and their families.
MCYJ will keep you updated as legislation for the proposed Child Care Fund changes is introduced and offer opportunities for you to support getting this important policy reform to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.