Senate introduces bills to strengthen Michigans child protection laws

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LANSING — Legislation designed to strengthen the laws pertaining to the review of child death cases was introduced Thursday in the Michigan Senate.  Sen. Judy Emmons and Sen. Mark C. Jansen are lead sponsors of the legislative package.

“We must ensure that if a child dies while in state care, we have everyone working together to understand what happened and what can be done to prevent future tragedies,” said Emmons, chair of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee.

Department of Human Services Director Maura Corrigan has worked with the Senate for several years to improve collaboration between state agencies on child death reviews, including during her tenure as a Michigan Supreme Court justice.

“This legislation will increase collaboration between all three branches of government and allow for a cohesive approach to data related to a child’s death,” Emmons said. “I want to thank Director Corrigan for her leadership on this issue.”

Emmons’ measure, Senate Bill 228, would make certain information available to a court that has jurisdiction in a suspected child abuse or neglect case, in the event of a child’s death.

Senate Bill 226, sponsored by Jansen, would require the department to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing non-identifying statistical information regarding children’s deaths.

“In the tragic event of a child’s death, certain information can be useful to help prevent similar deaths in the future,” said Jansen, R-Gaines Township. “With a publicly accessible, transparent registry, we safeguard privacy while decreasing fatalities.”

Other bills in the package would add a representative from a state or local court to the child death review teams and require the department to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child under court jurisdiction dies.

SBs 226-229 have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee for consideration.

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