Senate approves Emmons bill to strengthen Michigans child protection laws

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

“The state takes on a great deal of responsibility when a child enters its care,” said Emmons, chair of the Senate Families, Seniors and Human Services Committee. “With that responsibility, there are great expectations about the level of supervision and care each child will have.

“When a tragedy occurs and a child dies while in state care, it is critical to make corrections as soon as possible.  Everyone must work together to determine what happened, and swiftly implement preventative procedures.

“My legislation ensures the court is notified of a child’s death in cases of child abuse or neglect. This helps create a comprehensive and transparent approach to handling breakdowns in the system. It is also important that we protect privacy of the individuals while we strive to prevent a future tragedy.”

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 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.