Governor Whitmer announces MDHHS will no longer work with Sequel Youth and Family Services.
Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer has ordered the state’s Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) to no longer work with a staffing company that provided services where 16-year-old Cornelius Frederick died while being wrongly restrained for throwing a sandwich. During the incident, Frederick went into cardiac arrest. Whitmer said Sequel Youth and Family Services can no longer serve facilities licensed by the state agency.
“Protecting our most vulnerable is a top priority of my administration, and the senseless death of a youth at Lakeside for Children in Kalamazoo is intolerable and heartbreaking. We will take steps to prevent tragedies like this from occurring in the future and make sure there is accountability,” Governor Whitmer said. “Today I directed MDHHS Director Robert Gordon to take every step necessary to ensure Sequel Youth and Family Services – the company that provided staffing for Lakeside for Children where the 16-year-old died – no longer provides services for facilities licensed by the department.”
The MDHHS’s initial investigative report indicated, “On 01/05/20, around 8:30AM Staff 3 is alleged to have gotten in between Resident A and another resident that was fighting. Resident A is alleged to have been giving Staff 3 a hard time. Staff 3 was observed on camera shoving Resident A to a seated position on the couch. Staff 3 is alleged to have slapped, choked and scratched Resident A during this incident. There was a point when Staff 3 was alone with Resident A for approximately 30 seconds in his room. Resident A on 01/08/20, is observed with a mark on the neck from the incident. This incident is currently being investigation by the facility. Staff 3 is currently on suspension while the incident is being investigated.”
The report also stated a violation was established, indicating, “Evidence provided through interviews and a video recording support the allegations of Staff 3 using inappropriate behavior management techniques when addressing Resident B. This is supported by three other residents present in the bay area and Resident A’s report of the situation in Resident B’s bedroom.” However, the recommendation made was, “With an acceptable corrective action plan, it is recommended that no change be made to the license of this child caring institution.”
Lakeside’s plan had to include all of the following: “How compliance with each rule will be achieved.; Who is directly responsible for implementing the corrective action for each violation.; Specific time frames for each violation as to when the correction will be completed or implemented.; How continuing compliance will be maintained once compliance is achieved.; The signature of the responsible party and a date.”
“MDHHS continues to mourn the loss of this young man’s life, which came needlessly to an end at the hands of those meant to care for him,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency, in response to the plan issued by Governor Whitmer. “We are committed to protecting children and will not accept the completely unnecessary death of a youth who is deprived of the opportunity to grow up, complete his education, begin a career, and start a family. Not only is it critical that we hold the agency accountable – we must also improve our policies and practices so that a tragedy like this never happens again.”