A couple of House bills signed into law recently here in Michigan hope to increase transparency and accountability by the Office of Children’s Ombudsman. The idea behind the bills came from Representative Matt Hall, who believes that the needed transparency for investigations into the state’s child welfare system was missing. And so he decided to address the issue by proposing changes to Michigan law that would require the Office of Children’s Ombudsman to release redacted reports of investigations into alleged child abuse or neglect.
What is the Office of Child’s Ombudsman?
The Office of Child’s Ombudsman plays a very important role in regulating and investigating the child welfare system in Michigan. Their job is to investigate and review the actions and records of government and state agencies (like CPS) who oversee child welfare. They’re supposed to monitor and ensure that those agencies are compliant with state law, and are following policies and procedures regarding the placement, treatment and supervision of children in foster care. In essence, they are the watchdog agency that’s supposed to make sure that other child welfare agencies are doing their jobs properly.
How does this affect the child protection laws in Michigan?
Technically, House Bill 5248 (2019), which is now Public Act 185’20, doesn’t affect Michigan’s child protection laws at all. What it does affect is the way the OCO manages the information they collect and the conclusions they come to regarding that data. Under the new law, the Office of Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) will be required to “publicly release findings and recommendations related to a child abuse or death investigation within 30 days of a case’s closure date and with confidential information redacted.”
House Representative Hall said transparency is important!
According to House Representative Hall who spearheaded this legislation, “We needed to provide accountability and transparency because the public was not able to review the findings of these investigations. When you can’t review the findings, needed improvements can’t be made to the child welfare system to keep kids in that system safe. This is vitally important because the well-being of these children is charged to the state.”
This bill received wide support across the board
This bipartisan bill was voted through the House and Senate unanimously, and was even supported by the Office of Child Ombudsman itself. Why? Because Rep. Hall is correct – transparency in government agencies is always a good thing. The more people in power are held accountable for the choices they make that directly affect the lives of others, the better off we all are. And so anything that increases accountability within Child Protective Services and their overseeing agency is a good thing.
CPS is well known for ‘cowboying’ – don’t let them bully your family!
Being accused of child abuse or neglect is a life changing experience. And CPS has a tendency to use strongarm tactics when dealing with parents. Which is where we come in. Here at The Kronzek Firm, our experienced and aggressive CPS defense attorneys have spent decades successfully defending the parents of Michigan against child abuse and neglect charges. We understand the system, we know what you’re up against, and we are NOT intimidated by CPS workers. If you or a loved one have been accused of harming a child for any reason, call 866 766 5245 immediatley, and get help from the experts.