Michigan House Republicans
House approves Rep. Schroeder’s plan to make Michigan child abuse investigations more effective and transparent
RELEASE|June 3, 2020

Rep. Andrea Schroeder’s plan allowing Michigan Children’s Ombudsman investigators to dedicate more resources to cases where child abuse is suspected was unanimously approved today by the state House.

The plan also improves transparency and accountability to improve the investigation process.

“Our goal is to protect vulnerable children and deliver the justice they deserve,” Schroeder said. “These reforms will help state departments do a better job for the Michigan families who depend on their assistance at absolutely critical times in their lives.”

The legislation is sparked in part by an April 2019 audit which found the Children’s Ombudsman office was not investigating a large percentage of child abuse cases because mandates related to child fatality cases were eating up too many of the agency’s resources. The legislative package introduced by Schroeder, of Oakland County’s Independence Township, and Rep. Matt Hall of Marshall would reclassify some child death cases so the agency can devote more resources to protecting Michigan’s children.

The legislation would allow the ombudsman’s office some discretion with regard to investigations in child death cases. A preliminary investigation would be mandated in all cases the ombudsman’s office becomes involved in, but the need for a full investigation would be decided on a case-by-case basis. This would allow the ombudsman’s office to devote more time and resources to other cases where abuse is expected more quickly.

The legislation also requires the ombudsman’s office to publicly release findings and suggestions related to a child abuse or death investigation – when appropriate and with confidential information redacted. Increased transparency will boost accountability while revealing trends and other information that could prompt other important reforms, Schroeder said.

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