Snyder creates new department to focus on River of Opportunity


LANSING, MI – Gov. Rick Snyder has signed an executive order to align family and health related services by creating the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). Rick Snyder

Snyder first announced his plans for the department during his State of the State address on Jan. 20th, 2015.




In the Governor’s 2015 State of the State, he outlined his vision for focusing government on people rather than programs. He called this new perspective, “The River of Opportunity.” Through this executive action, Snyder aims to better serve residents by promoting improved health outcomes, reducing health risks, and supporting stable and safe families while encouraging self-sufficiency.

“The River of Opportunity is about putting people first by delivering services in a smarter, person-centered way with less fragmentation,” said Snyder. “We must do everything we can to ensure that all residents are treated with dignity and respect, and improve program coordination so we are positioned to ensure better outcomes for Michigan families.”

In addition to the executive order, Snyder also announced today his appointment of Nick Lyon as the director of the new department. Lyon had previously and concurrently served as director of the Michigan Department of Community Health (MDCH) and interim director of the Department of Human Services (DHS).

“As director of the new Michigan Department of Health and Human Services, I remain steadfastly committed to protecting the safety, health and wellbeing of Michigan’s most vulnerable populations,” said Lyon. “Moving forward, our goal is to integrate and deliver services in a thoughtful way to best serve our residents.”

The executive order establishes a framework to eliminate silos in state government and integrate services. Both the planning process and future department operations will be guided by Gov. Snyder’s group executive model – a structure that allows for productive dialogue between and within departments to ensure Michigan’s children and families are being served in a way that is collaborative as well as efficient, effective and accountable.

Protecting and supporting children on their path to adulthood will be a top priority for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Through his order, Snyder is creating the Michigan Children’s Services Agency within the department. By combining children’s services into one agency, the department will remove barriers and promote opportunities for children.

Under the new model, the Office of Services to the Aging will be restructured as the Aging and Adult Services Agency. This comprehensive agency will be focused on coordinating all services for Michigan’s adult and aging population. Through the expanded scope, adults and seniors will receive the services that best fit their needs.

The executive order also calls for the transfer of the Autism Council and State Child Abuse and Neglect Prevention Board to the new department. Additionally, the plan calls for most licensing processes currently within the Office of Children and Adult Services to be transferred from DHS to the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs.

Lyon, the appointed director of MDHHS, brings a wealth of health policy and budget expertise to his new role. Before joining MDCH and serving in multiple leadership roles, Lyon served as director of the Office of Budget Development and General Government within the State Budget Office and as finance officer for the Department of Attorney General. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Yale University in economics and political science and resides in Marshall, Mich. with his wife and two children.

Additional details about the organization of the new structure will be announced as they become available. The new department and agencies will assume operations 60 days from the filing date of the executive order, which is slated to be Monday, Feb. 9th, 2015.

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