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In an emotionally charged, season-ending IPPSR Public Policy Forum, foster care -- from early childhood to the transition to adulthood -- was before an audience of social workers, nonprofit agencies, social media observers and those who have the most intimate connections to foster care.

IPPSR's Public Policy Forums will break for the summer and return this fall. Watch the website, http://ippsr.msu.edu/public-policy/public-policy-forums/past-forums-archive, for updates. If you'd like to be on the IPPSR Public Policy mailing list, please contact Forums Director AnnMarie Schneider at annmarie@msu.edu.

May’s Forum reviewed early childhood education, caregiver training and Medicaid  provisions. It offered an overview of those who are currently in foster care, the needs of children in foster care and their families and specific ideas addressing the challenges of foster care at the state and federal levels.

All speakers called for the Michigan Legislature to pass new legislation upgrading the state's foster care system. They recommended that more adults become mentors to those in foster care, that those in the foster care system have greater access to health care, to resources including financial support and that child welfare focus on preventing more people from entering foster care.

Foster care can be disrupting to young people's lives and leave them feeling left adrift without the relationships they know best, the comfort of a home, community, neighborhood and schools they've already entered, the panelists said.

They praised MSU's Fostering Academics, Mentoring Excellence (FAME) program for foster care alumni as an "amazing resource." The program is housed in MSU's School of Social Work and is designed for foster care alumni as well as for youth who have been in kinship care, have experienced homelessness or are otherwise independent.

Panelists were:

See photos from the Forum at http://eringroom.zenfolio.com/p351731054. See the entire Public Policy Forum on video at http://bit.ly/IPPSRFosterForum

Please see @IPPSR live tweets from the Public Policy Forum. Search for #IPPSRForum.

All IPPSR Forums take place in the Mackinac Room, 5th floor of the Anderson House Office Building (HOB) at 124 N. Capitol Avenue in downtown Lansing.

IPPSR concludes its Public Policy Forum Series with the May program. The series will begin again this fall. Updates will be available on IPPSR’s website at ippsr.msu.edu.

IPPSR is part of MSU’s College of Social Science and is the home for the Michigan Political Leadership Program, the Office for Survey Research, the State of the State Survey, State of the State Podcast , Michigan Policy Insiders Panel and the Correlates of State Policy. These are all resources essential for research and policy pursuits.