LANSING – The Michigan Senate has approved a package of bills sponsored by State Sen. Judy Emmons, R-Sheridan, to strengthen laws for child death reviews.
The bills 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.
• Require the Department of Human Services (DHS) to establish and maintain a publicly accessible central registry, containing nonidentifying 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.
"The state takes on a great deal of responsibility when a child enters its care," said Emmons, chairwoman 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."
She said making changes and bringing everyone involved in a child's case together after a death is "critical" to preventing more tragedies.
"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," Emmons said. "It is also important that we protect privacy of the individuals while we strive to prevent a future tragedy."
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.