New Report Reveals Ongoing Safety Concerns in Michigan’s Child Welfare System, Advocates Call on Gov. Whitmer to Improve Conditions

Contact: Camilla Jenkins,

DETROIT, MI—According to a new report released by the court monitoring team in the ongoing federal child welfare reform lawsuit known as Dwayne B. v. Whitmer, critical safety concerns remain for children in Michigan’s child welfare system nearly 15 years after the state entered a settlement agreement in the lawsuit filed by Children’s Rights and co-counsel.

Filed today, the report covers the second half of 2020 (July to December 2020). The state has been under court order to reform its system since 2008.

The following statement was issued by Samantha Bartosz, Deputy Director of Litigation at Children’s Rights, for the plaintiff children in the Dwayne B. v. Whitmer case:

“We find ourselves nearly 15 years into this endeavor to reform Michigan’s foster care system and make it safer for kids. While positive strides have been made, too many children continue to be at risk in the state. It is deeply disturbing that Michigan still has not met its commitment to assure children’s safety in its care.

The report released today demonstrates several persistent, concerning practices, such as numerous instances of maltreatment in foster care and repeated failures by officials to conduct proper investigations into maltreatment, as well as inconsistent and ineffective evaluations of youth institutions and private child placement agencies.

Moving forward, the state, under the leadership of Governor Whitmer, must take urgent action to improve safety conditions in its child welfare system and support vulnerable children who desperately need stability.”

The report details a number of instances where the state failed to properly investigate maltreatment concerns or conduct sufficient oversight of foster home placements and child care institutions, ultimately putting children in harm’s way. For example, the report cites a circumstance where the state failed to properly investigate when a 13-year-old foster child was hospitalized in February of 2020 after ingesting sleeping pills she obtained from a medication box in her foster home that her foster parents had failed to lock, despite knowing that the child had previously attempted suicide by overdosing on pills and was on a suicide safety plan at the time.

Children’s Rights filed the child welfare reform class action, now known as Dwayne B. v. Whitmer, in August 2006, with Edward Leibensperger of the international law firm McDermott Will & Emery and Michigan-based law firm Keinbaum Opperwall Hardy & Pelton. The case settled in 2008 and the first modified settlement agreement was reached in 2011.

For more information on Dwayne B. v. Whitmer, please visit




Every day, children are harmed in America’s broken child welfare, juvenile justice, education, and healthcare systems. Through relentless strategic advocacy and legal action, we hold governments accountable for keeping kids safe and healthy. Children’s Rights, a national non-profit organization, has made a lasting impact for hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children. For more information, please visit