Sen. Jansen introduces legislation to strengthen Michigan's child protection laws
LANSING - Legislation to ensure accountability in the handling of child protection cases was introduced in the Senate Thursday, said Sen. Mark C. Jansen, R-Gaines Township.
Senate Bill 1418 sponsored by Jansen, will require the Michigan Department of Human Services to collaborate with local Friend of the Court offices on cases where a child is the subject of a protective services investigation and a custody or parenting time case is also pending.
"All the governmental agencies involved in child welfare cases should communicate and share information," Jansen said. "Child protection cases require a collaborative effort. One hand has to know what the other is doing, otherwise how can well-informed decisions be made about what is best for a child?"
Earlier this year the Senate Family and Human Services Committee, chaired by Jansen, convened a hearing to examine the department's response to the October 2007 death of Nicholas Braman. A department report on its handling of the case concluded that more could and should have been done to protect the 9-year-old.
Oliver Braman, Nicholas' father, had a documented history of violence. Nicholas' two older brothers were removed from their father's custody. Ultimately, Oliver pled guilty to second degree child abuse and was facing jail when he took Nicholas' life.
Jansen's measure will also permit the department to unconditionally share confidential information contained in the child abuse and neglect central registry with local Friend of the Court offices.
Other legislation in the four-bill package will:
- Require the department to develop an investigation checklist for statewide use in child abuse and neglect investigations;
- Clarify "torture" for child protective service workers determining whether or not to remove a child from a home;
- Add Friend of the Court employees to the list of mandatory reporters for child abuse and neglect; and
- Require Friend of the Court to notify DHS of any procedural developments in custody or parenting time cases.
"I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Senate and House of Representatives, and the governor on such vital pieces of legislation," Jansen said.
SB 1418 was referred to the Senate Committee on Families and Human Services.
Posted: Thursday, June 26, 2008
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