- Associated Press - Sunday, April 26, 2020

DETROIT (AP) - Michigan foster child placement agencies are facing new challenges because the governor’s stay-at-home order has blocked most birth parents from visiting their children in wake of coronavirus outbreak.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s decision has prompted worries that families providing foster care or completing certification may stop because of health concerns or job losses, The Detroit News reported.

Janet Reynolds Snyder is an executive director of the Michigan Federation for Children and Families, a Lansing-based association that has about 60 family support and child welfare service agencies in the state. She said the directive supports good health, but it is important for foster children to have access to their biological parents.

“We understand that all families are under strain,” Snyder said. “Those who have children who are out of their homes right now are understandably worried.”

JooYeun Chang, executive director of Michigan’s Children’s Services Agency with the state’s Department of Health and Human Services, said discontinuing contact was a “painful” decision for the administration.

“We waited until all evidence suggested it was a public health issue, and we needed to do what we needed to do to protect the health and wellness of families, birth parents and our workers,” Chang told the newspaper.

Cynthia Johnson, an Oakland County resident, is caring for children ages 1, 5 and 6. She is helping the two oldest with their school curriculum because the governor’s order has closed school districts.

Johnson and her husband, Michael, keep contact with the children’s relatives frequently.

“My job is to make sure that these kids are safe,” Johnson said. “We have to look out for ourselves, and we both have to look out for the kids.”

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