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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
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    3

    Default Foster Care Agency Has Not Paid Foster Parents' Daycare Expenses

    My question involves court procedures for the state of: Michigan

    I am a firefighter, teacher, and foster parent in the state of Michigan. My wife and I took in two foster children about 9 months ago through a nonprofit organization that we held our foster license through. We enrolled our foster kids in daycare since we both are teachers and work during the day. The daycare notified me about two weeks into them being there that they had not received payment from the state. I contacted our foster care worker and asked what I needed to do to get them taken care of. The daycare gave me paperwork which I faxed to our local DHS, I thought this was all we needed. This went on for months, I have text messages that show I asked our worker what I needed to do about every two weeks. We ended up having to have the kids moved to a different placement because the daycare could not keep them without getting paid along with other family reasons. In the end I found out that we were supposed to submit more paperwork. My worker never told me what I needed to do in order to complete the process which I have evidence of through text messages. Now the daycare is suing us for the unpaid child expenses that the state was supposed to cover. I have called DHS and they will not cover care retroactively. What should I do from here?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2015
    Posts
    181

    Default Re: Foster Care Daycare

    Disclaimer: I'm a pro se, non-attorney litigant. Other users in this forum (Mr.KnowItAll, TaxingMatters, for example) are more helpful and knowledgeable than I.

    Who should have informed you about the additional paperwork? If it is the daycare, then in your response you should include 'contributory negligence' as an affirmative defense: the daycare should have provided you with complete, timely information, rather than surprise you with a lawsuit.

    On the other hand, if it is DHS which should have informed you, the case would be more difficult. With some exceptions, government agencies are protected by "sovereign immunity": the court cannot compel that government agency to compensate. This is reflected in the DHS telling you that they will not cover care expenses retroactively. In your response, you might still want to do something called "Third-Party Plaintiff", which essentially means that you shift the liability to DHS for its failure to inform you properly.

    Although this seems to be purely a 'contracts' lawsuit, I would investigate whether any laws pertaining to child care 1) entail an exception to sovereign immunity, or 2) are so that the daycare should have taken steps with DHS directly. If there happens to be any statutes in the sense of 2), you should also claim the daycare's 'failure to mitigate damages'. In particular, check out Chapter 722 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, which has statutes like 'Child Care Organizations', 'Foster Care Review Boards', and 'Reimbursement of Legal Costs of Foster Parents'.

    Does the contract with the daycare have any clause pertaining to nonpayment or late payment? did the daycare send you a warning of any sort? You might want to argue the daycare's 'failure to mitigate damages' (another affirmative defense), but this depends on the specifics of your case and I shouldn't add confusion by speculating.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Foster Care Daycare

    The daycare sent us one notice a couple of months back. I have continually tried calling the director for child care at DHS but he has never called me back. The organization that we were licensed as foster parents was family service and children's aid. They are a non profit that we set up our license, placements, ect. through. I actually never had contact with DHS directly for any part of our license. Every time I called the director at DHS he would call Family Service. At one time he said they were going to try to find funding to cover it but again he never said it to me and won't return my calls. In any case it was a failure of my foster care worker at the non profit to let me know what I needed to do in order to get child care covered. I have tons of text messages where we ask for her help and she fails to let us know what we needed to do.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
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    98,846

    Default Re: Foster Care Daycare

    Quote Quoting NWSmith
    View Post
    In the end I found out that we were supposed to submit more paperwork. My worker never told me what I needed to do in order to complete the process which I have evidence of through text messages.
    Quote Quoting NWSmith
    View Post
    The organization that we were licensed as foster parents was family service and children's aid. They are a non profit that we set up our license, placements, ect. through.
    Try going to the offices of Family Service & Children's Aid and insisting upon speaking to somebody who can address the problem. If you can't get them to help you, I would go to your state representatives.

    LexLuthor is wrong about "contributory negligence". If you signed the contract with the daycare provider, either as the contracting parties or guarantors, then you are on the hook under that contract. The principle is the same as when you seek medical care for a foster child -- and never, ever sign as a guarantor or responsible party, because by doing so you can end up having to pay a bill that should be covered by Medicaid, with any coverage issues handled by the state. Also, contributory negligence is not actually a defense that is relevant to your situation, as this is a contract case and not a negligence case. And even if it were a negligence case it would not be relevant.... The daycare also didn't fail to mitigate damages. A daycare does not have to kick a child out of care the first day a payment is late in order to be able to later recover under contract. The provisions of MCL 722.161, et seq, are also not relevant to your situation.

    You could try bring a cross-claim against the agency, seeking indemnification. Is this matter being heard in small claims court?

    The agency needs to take better care of its foster parents. It's generally a money-losing process to be a foster parent and to do it right -- the agency needs to take pains not to make it even worse.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2016
    Posts
    3

    Default Re: Foster Care Daycare

    Yes this is in small claims. I have all the emails and text messages printed out that show we tried to ask what we needed to do from the agency. I also thought about contacting my state representative. Foster children are supposed to be automatically eligible for daycare expenses. It's really disappointing they won't approve the charges knowing that they should have been paid. Thank you for your help.

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