Governor’s task force to be in Alpena

Gov. Rick Snyder has put together a special task force to study the impact and trauma caused to children who are abused, dealing with being removed from their homes, or have been adopted. The 18-member panel will be visiting Alpena on June 3 to gather local input on the matter, as well as answer questions and hear concerns.

The task force, which consists of members appointed by the governor for three-year terms, are professionals with knowledge and experience relating to the criminal justice system, issues of child physical abuse, child neglect, child sexual abuse and exploitation, as well as child maltreatment related fatalities.

The United Way of Northeast Michigan will host the event at the APlex at 11 a.m. and it is free to anyone who wishes to attend. United Way Executive Director Germaine Stoppa said there are a number of things that will be addressed at the forum. She said all of them have an impact on the children involved in tough situations.

“The amount of trauma to them is tremendous in many cases. The panel wants to know more about child protections services, foster care, adoption, abuse and neglect in northeastern Michigan. They are meeting in many counties in Michigan and then the Department of Human Services will report back to the governor, ” Stoppa said. “There will be a lot of discussion about the impacts on a child when they are removed out of their home. and what can be done to help them with what they are dealing with.”

Stoppa said many times when a child is removed from their home it is confusing and scary for them. She said finding ways to help them transition into their new environments and leaning more about how they are affected psychologically is important.

“When a child is taken from their home that they have known often their whole life and placed with strangers they often want to know what is happening with their parents, as well as grandparents, who often raise children today,” Stoppa said. “Most times they are placed with people they don’t know, who are complete strangers and they aren’t really sure how to act. It is a whole new life for them that they have to deal with without having their family there to help them adjust or adjust with them.”

Stoppa said depending on the circumstances, children can be taken into custody late at night and many times they are not allowed to take any personal belongings. She said that also adds to the stress of the situation.

“Sometimes they have absolutely nothing they can take, just the clothes on their back,” Stoppa said. “They don’t have their favorite toy or something that is special to them. they have absolutely nothing.”

Stoppa said the forum will serve those who work with children well, as well as people who are foster parents or have adopted children. She said she encourages anyone interested to attend, but there is limited seating to the event and people who want to attend should contact her to make reservations. The event is scheduled to me about two hours long and lunch will be provided. to reserve a seat or to receive more information, contact Stoppa at 354-2221 or by email at gpstoppa@unitedwaynemi.org.

Steve Schulwitz can be reached via email at sschulwitz@thealpenanews.com or by phone at 358-5689. Follow Steve on Twitter ss_alpenanews. Read his blog, Upon Further Review … at www.thealpenanews.com.