Senate panel approves Emmons bill to strengthen Michigans child protection laws

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LANSING —Reforms designed to strengthen the laws concerning the review of child death cases was approved by a Senate panel Wednesday, said Sen. Judy Emmons, one of the lead sponsors of the legislative package.

“Our expectations of the level of supervision and care of a child in the care of the state are extremely high,” said Emmons, chair of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee. “When a child dies while in state care, everyone must work together to determine what happened, and preventative procedures must be implemented.

“This legislation will allow for a cohesive, yet transparent approach to data related to a child’s death.  By doing so, we protect privacy and improve collaboration between all three branches of government.”

Department of Human Services (DHS) 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.

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.

Other bills in the package would:

  • Require DHS to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing non-identifying statistical information regarding children’s deaths;
  • Add a court representative to the child death review teams; and
  • Require DHS to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child under court jurisdiction dies.

SBs 226-229 now head to the full Senate for consideration.

 

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