Michigan Changes Juvenile Discipline Rules After Death At Foster Facility

Cornelius Fredericks, a 16-year-old ward of the state, died after being restrained by staff at Lakeside Academy. Now Michigan will no longer allow restraint holds and excessive force must be reported.

Michigan officials have implemented sweeping rules changes after the death of a 16-year-old ward of the state in Kalamazoo in May. 

Cornelius Fredericks, an African American boy, died after staff at Lakeside Academy placed their weight on Fredericks’ chest after the teenager threw a sandwich, according to a lawsuit filed by his family. Attorney Jon Marko says Fredericks’ residence at Lakeside was a form of foster care and not disciplinary. 

“We have to be willing to invest more in prevention and early intervention.” — JooYeun Chang, MDHHS

Under the changes implemented by the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, restraint holds like the one that killed Fredricks will no longer be permitted. If excessive force is needed, it must be reported to parents or guardians within 24 hours. 

“We need to really require and provide support to facilities so that they do know about positive youth development practices and approaches,” says JooYeun Chang, Executive Director of the Children Services Agency at MDHHS.

The agency is requiring facilities to provide updated staff training policies that complies with the rules within 30 days of implementation. Chang says the new policies further the goal of the agency to support families during difficult times.   

“All families struggle at one time or another and sometimes poverty can make it feel overwhelming and unbearable to overcome these obstacles,” she says. “But we can offer a helping hand, [and] that means we have to be willing to invest more in prevention and early intervention.”

Click on the player above to hear JooYeun Chang of the Children Services Agency on new disciplinary rules for state youth housing. 

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  • Tia Graham
    Tia Graham is a reporter and Weekend Edition Host for 101.9 WDET. She graduated from Michigan State University where she had the unique privilege of covering former President Barack Obama and his trip to Lansing in 2014.