A plan from state Rep. Matt Hall offering needed transparency for investigations into the state’s child welfare system was signed into law Thursday by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer.
Hall has taken a leading role to protect children through his work on the legislation. The first-term lawmaker chairs the House Oversight Committee, which has worked through several reforms after a series of audits over the past two years raised concerns about the state system and how specific issues are addressed.
The new law increases transparency and accountability by requiring the Office of Children’s Ombudsman (OCO) 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.
“This legislation will spur changes that protect the lives of Michigan’s children in the future,” said Hall, of Marshall. “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.”
The OCO was created to independently investigate complaints involving children in the child welfare system – which includes Children’s Protective Services, foster care, juvenile justice and adoption – and is required by law to independently investigate the death of any child whose family has had prior contact with the child welfare system in the previous two years.
The OCO is tasked with determining whether Children’s Protective Service caseworkers followed law and protocol or could have intervened differently to better protect a child. The office also can look into complaints submitted by the public regarding the agency’s treatment of children who have been abused or neglected.
The OCO supported House Bill 5248, now Public Act 185 of 2020, as it has moved through legislative committees and unanimous votes of approval in the House and Senate.
“Gov. Whitmer and Democrats have hurt Michigan’s ability to compete to attract high-paying careers,” Hall said. Their pay cut plan has repealed our right-to-work law, forcing unionization on Michigan workers and taking the fruits of their labor.”
“Democrat leadership and their union boss friends even brought a COVID-positive legislator to session just to rush through their radical repeal of right-to-work and insulate it from the people’s right to block bad laws via referendum,” Hall said.
“I negotiated a bipartisan deal in good faith with Gov. Whitmer and Democrat leaders to protect Michigan small businesses from overzealous state tax bureaucrats,” Hall said. “But now that Democrats got the Republican votes they needed, Democrats are infighting and killing good policy that would help local job providers.”
House Republican Leader Matt Hall, R-Richland Township, on Tuesday issued the following statement after House Democrats passed legislation to repeal Michigan’s right-to-work law, forcing workers to pay union dues, and another bill to reinstate prevailing wage requirements that increase the cost of government construction projects:
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