Michigan’s Child Abuse Registry is slowly getting closer to becoming a reality. “Wyatt’s Law,” as the bipartisan trio of bills is known, would require that the Michigan State Police set up and maintain an online registry similar to the Sex Offender Registry that Michigan already uses to keep track of convicted sex offenders after release.
But a list of convicted child abusers, available to the public, is an entirely different kettle of fish from Michigan’s Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, also sometimes known as the Child Abuse Registry. This list, which isn’t available to the general public, is also far less regulated than the sex offender registry. For example, it doesn’t even require that a person be convicted of a crime before their name shows up on the list! Which means that many, if not all, of the people on the list have been denied due process!
How does the child abuse registry work in Michigan?
According to the Child Protective Services website, people can be placed on the central registry if there is “a preponderance of evidence that the individual has abused or neglected their child and the future risk to the child is high or intensive.” What does that mean? Well, it means that if a CPS worker believes that a child is at risk because their parent or caregiver is likely to abuse or neglect them, the parent or caregiver can be placed on the list.
So what constitutes a risk in this case? CPS workers use a “structured decision making risk assessment tool.” That involves assessing all the data gathered by the agency, and also the opinion of the assigned caseworker, and their immediate manager. However,sometimes state law requires that certain people’s names go on the Central Registry regardless of the risk assessed in their particular case.
What about defending yourself against accusations?
Yup, you read that right – there is no trial, no chance to defend yourself or confront your accuser. In fact, you may not even be aware that CPS is considering putting your name on the registry until it’s already happened! State law requires CPS to notify that person in writing if their name has been placed on the Central Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
It is considered to be a violation of a person’s rights for CPS to put their name on the list without notifying them. But again, just because CPS tells you they put your name on the list, doesn’t mean you can defend yourself against the allegations, or prove your innocence!
What happens if your name gets put on the list?
It’s the equivalent of being labelled a child abuser. Whenever you apply for a job working with children, the elderly or vulnerable people, the list is checked. If your name’s on it, you likely don’t get the job. Hoping to become a foster parent, or adopt a child? Nope, not if your name’s on the list. What about volunteering at your child’s school? Not a chance!
All in all, being labelled a child abuser without having had the chance to defend yourself is a huge violation of your rights, and an abuse of due process. Join us next time, as we look at how this came to be, and what needs to happen next! Until then, if you or a loved one have been accused of abusing or neglecting a child in Michigan, you’re going to need help from a skilled and experienced child abuse defense attorney!
So call The Kronzek Firm immediately at 866 766 5245 and get the help you need! Our Attorneys have successfully petitioned for removal of our clients’ names from the CPS central registry. Under current laws you may have time constraints so it is important to contact an attorney as soon as possible if you believe you were wrongfully placed on the list!