West Michigan’s WWMT.com recently published an article in which they interviewed Evelyn Smith, a foster mother who has been falsely accused of child abuse – by the state of Michigan. Smith’s name has been added to the Michigan Central Registry, also known as the Abuse and Neglect Registry, and as a result she has been stripped of the one thing that she loves most – the ability to foster children in her home!
According to the article, Smith’s love of her foster children is evident by the huge number of pictures hanging in the living room in her Kalamazoo home. She talks about how wonderful it is to be able to make a difference in a child’s life, which is something that she is evidently dedicated to – Smith is both a foster mother, and works with children at a local school. But that has all changed.
In 2010, Smith was involved in a domestic assault situation with her adopted son, whom the article names as Russell Smith. According to the accounting that Smith provided to the media, Russell walked up to her and slammed into her. The incident was reported and police who were present clearly listed Smith as the victim in this case. Six years went by with no change, and suddenly Smith found that her name was added to the central registry.
Six years of nothing, and then completely without warning, she loses her job at the school and loses her license to foster. According to to Smith, it all happened so fast that she didn’t even get a chance to say goodbye to the children she was caring for. But why? That’s Smith question too, as she grapples with what’s happened, and how it can be fixed.
In response to questions about Smith’s situation, the official CPS response was the following: “We place the name of an individual on central registry if children’s protective services conducts an investigation of suspected abuse and neglect and finds there is a preponderance of evidence that the individual has abused or neglected his or her child and the future risk to the child is high or intensive…in some cases a person’s name is removed from the registry after being on the registry for 10 years.”
This answer essentially answers nothing. While it explains the basic facts about why CPS would put a person’s name on the list, it doesn’t shed any light on why this foster mother, who was clearly the victim in this situation, was being treated like a criminal.
As the article points out, Smith wasn’t the only one here in Michigan fighting against the silent giant that CPS has become – a monstrous giant that rarely if ever explains its actions, and hardly ever seems to be held accountable for its actions. Several other people are also engaged in lawsuits with the state regarding the central registry and the fact they believe they have been wrongly accused by the state.
Thankfully for Smith her situation has since been resolved. A few short weeks after the media inquiry into Smith’s case, she received another letter from DHHS, claiming that there had been clerical errors which resulted in her being wrongly accused of child abuse. Her name has since been removed from the list and her record has been expunged. However, while we are thrilled that Smith’s situation was so easily rectified, it is a classic example of how easy it is for CPS to devastate someone’s life.
If you are curious about the Michigan central registry, we have a recent article series on our CPS Defense website that explains exactly what it is and how to go about getting your name removed from the list. For those of you who are facing similar situations to Smith’s, please call us as soon as possible at 800-576-6035. Our CPS defense attorneys have years of experience defending parents and caregivers against the bullying tactics of CPS. We are here to help you!