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Corrigan to Step Down as DHS Director at End of Year

September 22, 2014

Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Maura CORRIGAN told the Detroit Free Press  she would step down from her post at the end of this year, which apparently had been the plan all along.

Sara WURFEL, spokesperson for Gov. Rick SNYDER, said Corrigan, who left the Supreme Court to lead DHS, only planned to serve one four-year term. DHS spokesperson Bob WHEATON said the director wants to spend more time with her children and grandchildren.

“She’s going to continue working 120 percent for the remainder of the year,” Wheaton said. “In fact, she’s working even harder than usual — if that’s possible — to get as much done as she can before her retirement. Director Corrigan has a great passion for children and families — and for helping the most vulnerable Michigan residents.”

According to one source, Corrigan began telling her senior staff earlier this year that she intended to leave at year’s end. This news has filtered to other employees with the DHS since. So when ‘s story in the Free Press came out, it was not a surprise to DHS staff, but it was the first word from Corrigan that she was indeed moving in this direction. Corrigan had not issued any formal announcement to her staff.

Another source said she’s been saying that Dec. 31 would be her last day and that she would be “retiring and becoming a grandmother on Dec. 31.”

“It’s an honor to work for Governor Snyder,” Corrigan said. “Rick Snyder’s leadership has meant so much for the state of Michigan and its kids and families. We’ve accomplished so much, but we will accomplish even more in the coming months.”

Corrigan was appointed to head DHS in 2011 by Snyder. Corrigan was previously a judge for the state Court of Appeals and justice of the Michigan Supreme Court for 19 years.

It’s not clear who will replace Corrigan.

Under Corrigan’s watch, state rules for receiving welfare and food assistance tightened up. Among some of the major points:

– Setting conditions on how college students can obtain Bridge Cards.

– Requiring asset limits on food assistance recipients. However, DHS ended up revoking the policy that would’ve disqualified people from food stamps if they owned cars worth more than $15,000.

– Corrigan consolidated the DHS work investigating fraud in state administered programs into one division.

The DHS under Corrigan has also made progress complying with the terms of a major child welfare settlement.

And there were consistent strides made in adoption placement statistics as well under Corrigan’s watch.

She set up Pathways to Potential schools around Michigan so that DHS caseworkers are there to assist students and families with obstacles to success in school. There are now 187 Pathways schools in 21 counties. Absenteeism has decreased significantly in many Pathways schools.

DHS is also seeing a big increase in the work participation rate for cash assistance recipients through PATH (Partnership. Accountability. Training. Hope.) — a program started under Corrigan’s leadership that helps remove obstacles to finding a job. Michigan’s work participation rate is now 62 percent, up from well below the federally required 50 percent rate before Corrigan’s arrival.

“Major, major improvements have been made that have made a positive difference in Michiganders’ lives as well as being fiscally responsible with taxpayer dollars,” Wurfel said, regarding Corrigan.

Corrigan, along with Snyder, laid out a vision earlier this year to fund foster providers by performance rather than by how much time they spend with children.

Later in Corrigan’s term and earlier this year, the DHS was the victim of two particularly unfavorable audit reports.

One dealt with the Medicaid Home Help Program, which DHS shares with the Department of Community Health (DCH).

The other dealt with the adult foster care system.

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