Hermann McCall ’78 will become the executive director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Services Agency in late April.

McCall is leaving his position of 14 years as director of the Juvenile Justice Programs, a segment of the CSA, to relieve Steve Yager, who retiring after 30 years as the executive director. The state health department’s director, Nick Lyon, appointed McCall earlier this month.

“Herman’s expertise in child welfare and his commitment to meeting the needs of vulnerable children in Michigan will allow the department to continue the tremendous progress that Michigan has made with its child welfare system under Steve Yager,” Lyon said in a news release.

The CSA oversees all child welfare services in Michigan, running more than a dozen programs, such as child protective services.

In the weeks leading up to Yager’s retirement, McCall is working more closely with him.

“Most of this time has been devoted to understanding the necessary complexities of projects and initiatives in progress and ensuring the transition is as smooth as possible,” McCall said in an email.

A developing goal of the CSA is to lessen federal oversight of the agency, and since 2006, there have been significant strides towards this with the guidance of Steve Yager, McCall said. Fully exiting from the federal court’s oversight is in the near future, as the state of Michigan is working on the Implementation, Sustainability, and Exit Plan to ensure it. McCall said this plan acts as a roadmap for the CSA teams in carrying out their work.

McCall’s experience and love for helping youth grew while studying sociology at Hillsdale College, he said. He then went on to earn a master’s degree in counseling from Western Michigan University and a doctorate degree in education from California Coast University.

At Hillsdale, McCall interned with the county court, taught physical education in the Hillsdale public school system, and volunteered at the Mary Randall Preschool.

“The biggest takeaway for each of those experiences was that even with dramatically different life experiences that the young people that I had the opportunity to work with, if you approach the experience with a genuine commitment to teach, coach, guide, and learn from the experience, you can have the opportunity to have a real positive impact on the lives of others and particularly children,” McCall said.

During McCall’s time with the Juvenile Justice Programs, he and teams of professionals thoughtfully developed and implemented strategies for improving the lives of justice-involved youth, and McCall said he plans to apply this experience to other youth programs. Some of these points he plans to implement while directing the CSA include using evidence-based intervention strategies that ultimately secure stability in children’s lives.

“Our priorities include reducing placements of youth outside their homes and outside their communities,” McCall said. “Whenever possible, those services should be provided within the home, and when out-of-home services are necessary they should be for the shortest amount of time necessary.”