Task force discusses, gathers data

ALPENA – Making sure the transition for a child who is pulled from their home and placed in foster care is a smooth one is a top priority for Gov. Rick Snyder and the Michigan Department of Human Services. It is the state’s mission to address childhood trauma, protect children who are subjected to abuse and to help them overcome the struggles associated with it.

Snyder ordered an 18 person special task force be put together to visit communities to get thoughts, suggestions and concerns from those who work with the troubled youth and then file a report with the governor.

Tuesday the task force was in Alpena to gather information about the matter locally. Michigan State Police Alpena Post Detective Sgt. Jennifer Pintar said the meeting was productive and involved various people involved in the local child care system. She said the data collected will be added to that gathered from other cities and then a final report, with recomendations, will be drafted.

She said there are some similarities between what troubled children in Alpena face to those who live in large communities. Pintar said there are some big differences as well.

“We were looking specifically at trauma and how different agencies and people in the system deal with the trauma of a child and how we can handle trauma better,” Pintar said. “I think there are some difference that are truer to a rural area like Alpena , for instance services. Sometimes there aren’t the services available for northern Michigan that there are in a more metropolitan area. That is why we are doing this in a cross-section of the state, because maybe each part of the state has different challenges and we can better learn how to address them.”

So far there have been three panel discussions, one in Kent County, another in Flint and now Alpena. Pintar said there could be more held in other parts of Michigan if more input is needed. She said once the information is collected it will be given to the chairman, Wexford County Probate Judge Ken Tacoma who will present it to the Department of Human Resources. Pintar said it will be some time until a final report will be ready to be presented to Snyder.

“We have been at this for just a little less than a year, so we’re hoping within a year’s time we would be able to finish up the rest of our discussions and compile all of the information,” Pintar said. “I’m thinking it will be another year before it actually makes it to the governor.”

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.