Senate approves Nofs bill to strengthen Michigans child protection laws

LANSING —Reforms designed to strengthen the laws concerning the review of cases involving the death of a child were approved Thursday by the Michigan Senate, said Sen. Mike Nofs.

“This is about all branches of government working together to improve the care and safety of children in the foster care system,” said Nofs, R-Battle Creek. “When a tragedy occurs and a child dies while in state care, it is critical that everyone works together to determine what happened and how to prevent it from occurring again.”

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.

“My bill would ensure the courts are involved in the process by adding a local or state court representative to the child fatality review team,” Nofs said. “It would require the state team to submit a copy of an annual report on child fatalities to DHS by the end of each year. To improve the system everyone involved must have all the necessary information.”

Nofs’ measure, Senate Bill 229, would also require the Citizen Review Panel to examine each fatality involving a child who was or had been under court jurisdiction because of abuse or neglect.

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;
  • 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; and
  • Require DHS to immediately notify the court with jurisdiction, the children’s ombudsman and the Legislature when a child under court jurisdiction dies.

Senate Bills 226-229 have been sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.