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A Better Partnership
April 13, 2016

COA – County Child Care Fund responsible for payment of half of the supervision costs related to foster care placements

During the timeframe in question, no statute specifically provided a County Child Care Fund with insulation from responsibility for payment of costs or administrative rates in connection with the supervision of foster care placements, held the Michigan Court of Appeals in In re CM and AM, Minors, No. 322913.
 
In December 2012, child protection proceedings, concerning two minor children, were initiated by the Department of Health and Human Services (“DHHS”).  The trial court terminated both parents’ parental rights in April 2015.  In a July 2014 proceeding, the trial court issued a dispositional order which included a provision that found no legal authority for the Mackinac County Child Care Fund (“MCCF”) to pay administrative rates for foster care placement of the two minor children, thus leaving DHHS to absorb all such costs.  DHHS sought interlocutory relief, which was denied by the Court of Appeals; DHHS then sought leave to appeal in the Michigan Supreme Court, which, in lieu of granting leave, remanded the case back to the Court of Appeals.
 
At issue on appeal was whether MCCCF bore any responsibility for half of the supervision costs related to DHHS having to engage a child welfare agency to supervise the foster care placements of the two minor children.  The Court of Appeals held that the trial court erred in its dispositional order deciding that MCCCF bore no responsibility under MCL 803.305(1) for the payment of administrative rates related to foster care placement “in the absence of legislation specifically providing otherwise for the timeframe in question.”  According to the Court, administrative rates for foster care supervision have long been a part of foster care system, and the Legislature assigned sole responsibility for the rates to the applicable state agency for only distinct periods under MCL 400.117a, which was amended by 2013 PA 138 and 2014 PA 304.  Because these distinct periods did not cover the timeframe at issue in this matter, the Court held that MCCCF was responsible for half of the administrative fees under MCL 803.305(1), which provides for an even split of costs between DHHS and MCCCF.  The Court reversed the trial court’s July 2014 disposition order in pertinent part, and remanded the case for further proceedings.   

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