- Associated Press - Thursday, May 28, 2015

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - There would be no layoffs as a result of the closure or consolidation of 15 health and human services offices around Michigan under a budget plan advancing through the Legislature, a spokesman for the department said Thursday.

Nine Michigan Department of Health and Human Services offices and six Michigan Rehabilitation Services offices would be affected under the plan approved by a legislative conference committee earlier this week.

Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton said the department would still have a local presence in every county, and most employees would likely work out of satellite locations or county offices.

“This plan allows us to get more staff members into the field and working with residents out of the office setting,” Wheaton said.. “Throughout the merger, we’ve remained committed to putting people first - and this would allow us to better serve our residents in the environments where we can have a greater impact,”

Gilda Jacobs, president of the Michigan League for Public Policy, said despite the avoidance of layoffs, the group has concerns about whether people needing services will be able to reach workers as a result of the office closures and consolidations.

“It’s the delivery of services that needs to get tackled, and we hope that’s what the department will be doing,” Jacobs said. “We want to be sure people can get to the offices and get to the services that they need.”

Department of Health and Human Services offices handle cases ranging from food or cash assistance to children’s services, including foster care and adoption cases.

Staff at Michigan Rehabilitation Services offices work with people with disabilities to help them find jobs and become more independent.

Locations impacted by office closures or consolidations would include Alger, Montmorency, Presque Isle, Genesee McCree, Fort Wayne, Redford, Glendale/Trumbull, Genesee, Isabella, Ottawa and Tuscola, along with some offices in Kent, Dickinson and Wayne counties.

The state House and Senate are expected to give final approval to the plan along with other departmental budget bills by the end of next week.


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