A community-based foster care program hired a CEO who said she will focus on advancing equity in the child welfare system.
The West Michigan Partnership for Children said last week that it appointed Sonia Noorman as its new CEO, effective Monday.
Noorman, who had been serving as WMPC’s COO, replaces founding CEO Kristyn Peck, who recently accepted an opportunity that will bring her closer to family in the Washington, D.C. area.
“The board has complete confidence in Sonia’s ability to successfully lead WMPC through the final two years of the innovative foster care pilot,” said Cheryl Schuch, WMPC board chair and CEO of Family Promise. “Sonia has the expertise and vision necessary to continue to advance performance and has an excellent reputation with Kent County and statewide child welfare system stakeholders as a collaborative partner.”
WMPC has been operating a community-based foster care model for three years through a contract with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and currently is the first and only performance-based child welfare model in Michigan.
Noorman has had a longstanding passion for transforming child welfare in Kent County, WMPC said. She participated in the statewide team of public and private child welfare champions that developed the model WMPC implements today for four years prior to WMPC’s public launch in fall 2017. She served as WMPC’s COO since the organization’s inception, working alongside Peck to develop the organizational infrastructure and leading the performance and quality improvement and care coordination teams.
Through collaboration with WMPC’s partner agencies, Noorman led WMPC to decrease the length of stay of Kent County children in foster care by 7% and to reduce by 20% the number of days children in foster care are placed in residential settings.
“As (CEO), I will continue to focus on building an inclusive culture at WMPC and on building equity in the Kent County foster care system,” Noorman said. “I am eager to work with child welfare system stakeholders to create a trauma-responsive child welfare system that addresses disparities and inequities that are experienced by children and parents.”
Prior to working at WMPC, Sonia served as the division director for Wellspring Lutheran Services’ five foster care programs in Michigan, increasing Wellspring’s statewide foster care program revenue by 20%.
Noorman has a Master of Science in human development and family studies and a Master of Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, as well as a Bachelor of Arts in psychology from Calvin College. She also completed the Result Based Leadership Institute training offered by the Annie E. Casey Foundation.
Her appointment to CEO leaves WMPC’s COO role vacant, and the board has decided to restructure the organization’s leadership to include some of the more operational responsibilities in the CEO position and develop a new chief engagement and equity officer position (CEEO) it believes will better meet the needs of the organization and the foster care system than the role of COO.
“In line with our values of tireless collaboration and commitment to transparency, we conducted a survey of more than 100 WMPC stakeholders to assess the priorities for WMPC in these next two years of the pilot,” said Sean DeFour, vice chair of WMPC’s board and COO at Wellspring Lutheran Services. “The feedback from the survey pointed to a need for an increased focus for WMPC on advancing equity in the foster care system and increasing trust with persons with lived experience. We believe the chief engagement and equity officer will allow WMPC to have a specific focus in these areas.”
The CEEO will be responsible for creating and overseeing a board program development and innovation advisory committee, which will include representation of people with lived experience as recipients of WMPC services.
Interested applicants for the CEEO role can find more information at WMPC’s website.