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Annual Report
Office of
Children’s Ombudsman

Mission Statement The mission of the Ofce of the Children’s Ombudsman is to assure the safety and
well-being of Michigan’s children in need of foster care, adoption, and protective
services and to promote public condence in the child welfare system. This will
be accomplished through independently investigating complaints, advocating for
children, and recommending changes to improve law, policy, and practice for the
benet of current and future generations.

Table of Contents Letter of Transmittal.............................................................................................................................5

Executive Summary .............................................................................................................................6

Conduct of the Ofce ...........................................................................................................................8
OCO Impact on the Child Welfare System....................................................................................8

Budget ......................................................................................................................................... 11
Multi-Disciplinary Team ............................................................................................................... 11
Training........................................................................................................................................ 11
Operating Protocol ......................................................................................................................12

Complaint Analysis and Investigative Findings ..............................................................................13

Recommendations .............................................................................................................................18
Children’s Protective Services.....................................................................................................18
Foster Care .................................................................................................................................20
Systems Issues ...........................................................................................................................26
Legislative Amendments .............................................................................................................27

Progress on Recommendations: 1995 to 2000................................................................................29

Appendix A: Acknowledgments ...................................................................................................32
Appendix B: Frequency of Investigations by County...................................................................33
Appendix C: Complaint Process and Investigative Procedures ..................................................34
Appendix D: Intake and Investigation Process Flow Charts........................................................37
Appendix E: Multi-Disciplinary Team Training .............................................................................39
Appendix F: Public Act 204 of 1994 ............................................................................................41

Executive The Ofce of Children’s Ombudsman was
established by Public Act 204 of 1994,
Operation of the Ofce
This section includes information on the OCO

MCL 722.921, et seq, as an autonomous budget, personnel, training, and operating
agency with the statutory responsibility to protocols.
independently investigate complaints about
children under the supervision of the Family • The Ombudsman’s budget for Fiscal Year
Independence Agency (FIA) and private child- 2000-2001 was $1,194,398.
placing agencies. • The staff comprises 13 full-time employees,
This is the sixth annual report submitted by including the Ombudsman, eight
the Ofce of Children’s Ombudsman (OCO), investigators, a supervising investigator, an
pursuant to Public Act 204 of 1994, MCL intake investigator, and two administrative
722.921, et seq. The report analyzes the support staff.
work conducted by the ofce during the • Staff participated in a total of 16 external
twelve-month period between October 1, training sessions.
2000, and September 30, 2001. It includes
• A Memorandum of Understanding was
nine recommendations for changes in FIA
signed by the Ombudsman and the FIA
policies and procedures and two proposals for
director in June 2001.
legislation. The recommendations resulted from
case investigations and complaints received by Complaint Analysis and Investigative
the OCO during the reporting period. Findings
This section analyzes the complaints received
The report is organized into six parts:
by the OCO during the scal year. It
Conduct of the Ofce; Operations; Complaint
also includes a review and analysis of the
Analysis and Investigative Findings;
ndings resulting from OCO case investigations
Recommendations; Progress Report on
conducted during the reporting period.
Previous Recommendations; and Appendices.
During this reporting period:
Conduct of the Ofce
This section describes the function of the ofce • The OCO received 815 complaints involving
and provides an overview of the activities 1,274 children in 76 of Michigan’s 83
performed by the OCO that impact the child counties, which represents a 12.5 percent
welfare system. increase in complaints compared with the
previous scal year.

• The OCO accepted 158 complaints for Recommendations 8. Comply with laws and policies regarding
investigation. This section contains eleven recommendations parenting time for parents of children in
that resulted from complaints and/or case foster care
• Parents represented the largest group of
complainants (37 percent), followed by investigations conducted by the OCO during 9. Comply with law regarding protocols for
relatives (26 percent), and foster parents the reporting period. These recommendations child abuse/neglect investigations
(16.5 percent). include three that concern child abuse and
neglect investigations, ve regarding foster 10. Amend the annual FIA Appropriations Act
• The Ombudsman initiated complaints on 86 care, one systems issue, and two legislative to prohibit the expenditure of State funds
cases (13 percent). proposals. Each recommendation is followed to reunite a child with a person convicted
by a rationale. This section also includes the of attempted criminal sexual conduct
• The OCO completed 172 investigations
involving 685 children. Family Independence Agency’s response to 11. Amend the Child Protection Law to
each of the recommendations. allow the OCO access to the identity
• In 86 of the cases investigated, the OCO
of Children’s Protective Services reporting
afrmed the FIA and/or private agency. Recommendations: persons
• In 80 of the cases investigated, the 1. Comply with policy requiring review and
OCO issued Reports of Findings and documentation of a parent’s case history Progress Report on Recommendations
Recommendations encompassing a total from 1995 to 2000
2. Review the use of Families First services This section provides a statistical analysis
of 413 ndings and corresponding in certain cases
recommendations. of recommendations issued in the OCO’s
3. Utilize the Risk Assessment in Category ve previous annual reports. It also lists
• Six cases were investigated and closed for IV Children’s Protective Services (CPS) six legislative proposals that have not been
discretionary reasons.1 cases implemented to date.
• Most of the ndings/recommendations (294) 4. Take certain actions when a child is placed
involved violations of law and/or policy, Appendices
with a non-custodial parent
followed by poor practice/decisions (109), This section includes acknowledgments, a chart
systems issues (5), and inadequate law or 5. Comply with foster care placement laws, showing the number of investigations by county,
policy (5). rules, and policies OCO complaint and investigative procedures,
6. Improve the development and intake and investigative process ow charts, a
implementation of foster care permanency summary of team trainings, and a copy of PA
plans 204.
1 Occasionally, a case is closed because the complainant’s issues
have been resolved, either by the actions of the FIA or private 7. Ensure that petitions to terminate parental
agency, or by another entity such as the court, or because the
circumstances affecting the case have changed. rights are led when mandated or
otherwise appropriate
Conduct of the The Ofce of Children’s Ombudsman was
established by the Michigan legislature in 1994
reach of the OCO: law enforcement, judges
and referees, prosecutors, children’s attorneys,

in response to concerns about the child welfare and state licensing and regulatory agencies,
system and the potential for harmful action to name a few. Shortcomings on the part of
or inaction by state and private agencies. any one of these agencies or individuals can
Legislators were concerned that condentiality negatively impact the outcome for a child. The
laws designed to protect the identities of OCO has frequently afrmed cases where the
children involved with the State because of FIA or a private agency has fully complied with
abuse and neglect issues also served to laws and policies and made sound decisions
prevent outside entities from scrutinizing cases consistent with the child’s best interests, only
alleged to have been mishandled by the FIA or to have another part of the system fall short.
its contracted agencies. Full compliance with laws and policies by the
FIA does not necessarily guarantee a child’s
As a result, the Michigan legislature passed safety, well-being, or permanence, and efforts
Public Act 204 in 1994, giving the OCO the to improve outcomes for abused and neglected
statutory authority to independently investigate children must focus on making improvements
complaints on behalf of children involved with to each component of this multi-faceted child
the State because of abuse and neglect welfare system.
issues. Specically, the OCO was mandated
to “monitor and ensure compliance” with child OCO Impact on the Child Welfare System
welfare laws, rules, and policies by the FIA As stated, the OCO’s primary function is to
and private child-placing agencies. Additionally, provide oversight of the child welfare system
the OCO was directed to submit to the by investigating complaints concerning children
governor, the legislature, and the FIA director under the supervision of the FIA and private
“any recommendations regarding the need for child-placing agencies. PA 204 states that the
legislation or for changes in rules or policies” to OCO is to “monitor and ensure compliance
improve the child welfare system. with relevant statutes, rules, and policies
pertaining to children’s protective services and
Multi-faceted System the placement, supervision, and treatment
While the OCO functions as an oversight of children in foster care and adoptive
agency for the FIA and private child-placing homes.” PA 204 also mandates that the OCO
agencies, it is important to recognize that the make recommendations to the governor, the
child welfare system is comprised of many legislature, and the FIA concerning the need
components that are beyond the statutory
for changes to protective services, adoption, or providing them with information and • Request for Action: If during the
foster care laws and policies. suggestions about existing course of an investigation the OCO
administrative remedies. In addition, believes that an immediate or specic
In addition to these mandated requirements, when complaints are not within the course of action from the agency is
the OCO impacts the child welfare system scope of the OCO’s authority, both required to protect a child from risk
through other activities performed by the ofce, verbal and written referral information of harm, the OCO issues a Request
as outlined below: is provided to complainants directing For Action detailing the situation and
• Changes to laws, rules, and them to the appropriate entity. requesting action by the agency.
policies: The OCO has made 105 • Investigate complaints: Over the Actions might include a request to
recommendations for changes to past six years, the OCO has conduct an immediate home visit to
laws, rules, and policies governing the completed 1,533 investigations, and verify a child’s safety and well-being,
child welfare system in its previous issued 261 written reports of Findings or ling a court petition on behalf
ve annual reports. To date, 70 and Recommendations on individual of a child. In other instances, the
percent of those recommendations cases investigated by the OCO. OCO may request an action that
have been implemented into law or These reports have encompassed impacts permanency for the child,
policy, or have resulted in other FIA over 1,500 ndings and such as amending a report to include
action. recommendations, many of which information that was omitted, or
have resulted in new or amended ensuring that CPS coordinates an
• Assist complainants: Since the
policies, procedures, and local investigation with law enforcement
ofce began its work on January
practices. In addition, the OCO to enable criminal prosecution of a
1, 1995, the OCO has processed
has positively impacted the lives of perpetrator.
3,766 complaints. During the past
scal year, the OCO received 815 many children through direct case • FIA meetings: Over the past year,
complaints,2 a 12.5 percent increase intervention. the OCO has participated in regular
over the previous reporting period • Case support: When warranted, the meetings with FIA policy and program
and a threefold increase from scal OCO actively supports the FIA or staff to discuss a variety of child
year 1995-1996. The OCO spends private agencies in individual cases welfare concerns. These meetings
a signicant amount of time helping through such actions as appearing in allow for an open exchange of
complainants understand the complex court, writing opinion letters to judges information on a wide range of topics,
laws, rules and policies that govern or prosecutors, or facilitating case and ongoing dialog has resulted
the child welfare system and conferences. This involvement often in changes to FIA policies and
has a direct impact on the protection procedures. Most notably during this
and permanency of children. scal year, the FIA implemented
2 See Appendix C for an explanation of the complaint process.
a program in conjunction with the
Michigan Department of Community placing agency rules. During this information regarding the OCO’s
Health (DCH) that matches birth scal year, the OCO also collaborated function, protocols and procedures.
records of newborns with parents with the FIA and Children’s Charter • Committees: OCO team members
whose parental rights have been of the Courts of Michigan to produce serve on committees, task forces,
previously terminated on another an informative handbook for parents advisory boards and teams
child. When a birth match occurs, whose children are in foster care. throughout the year, including: Child
FIA conducts a eld investigation to • Web site: The OCO maintains a Death Review Team, Child Protection
determine whether the newborn is web site ( that Citizen Review Panel, Infant Brain
safe or if removal is warranted. provides the general public with Development Task Force, Substance
• FIA case discussion: OCO staff information about the duties and Abuse Task Force, Child Welfare
meet with the FIA Family Advocate on responsibilities of the OCO, as well as Institute Advisory Board, Foster Care
a regular basis to discuss individual related information. Review Board, and the Court
cases and to resolve issues arising Improvement Project of the State
• Outreach: During the past scal year,
from case investigations. Court Administrative Ofce.
the Ombudsman and investigators
• Commendation letters: The OCO gave informative presentations about • Legislative sub-committee: The
makes every effort when reviewing the work of the OCO to a number OCO provided testimony to State
cases to ensure that outstanding of state and private agencies and Representative Lauren Hager’s
casework is recognized and organizations, including universities, House sub-committee on Children’s
acknowledged. For this reason, the civic clubs, boards, private child- Protective Services. The sub-
Ombudsman issues personal letters placing agencies, and courts. In committee was appointed by State
of commendation to those workers addition, the OCO gave presentations Representative Doug Hart to examine
whose casework represents a high at the FIA Management meeting the current child protection system
standard of excellence. in Flint, Families First Cluster 10 in Michigan, partially in response to
Managers meeting in Lansing, two well-publicized cases involving
• Publications: The OCO produces
Michigan Foster and Adoptive Parent children who died as a result of abuse
and distributes an informative
Association conference in Detroit, the or neglect following involvement with
pamphlet to promote awareness and
Court Appointed Special Advocate the child protection system.
inform the public about the duties and
conference in Grand Rapids, and the
responsibilities of the OCO. This year, Operation of the Ofce
copies of the OCO’s pamphlet were Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
annual conference in Reading. The Section 4(1) of PA 204 requires the
distributed to all new foster parents Ombudsman to establish procedures for
OCO also participates regularly in the
in compliance with the new Bureau budgeting, expending funds, and employing
FIA’s Child Welfare Institute training
of Regulatory Services (BRS) child- personnel.
for new caseworkers to provide
Budget and diverse professional backgrounds. One • A certied social worker with Family
In scal year 2000-2001, the OCO received new investigator, a former FIA employee with Independence Agency and private
$1,194,398 in appropriated funds. The principal ten years experience as a Child Protective agency experience in foster care
expenditures were for personnel, ofce Services worker and Child Welfare Institute case management and foster home
facilities, technology upgrades, and training. trainer, joined the team during this reporting licensing.
Funds were also used to enhance the period. • A licensed Ph.D. child psychologist
automated case management system, upgrade Team members include: and former State Senator and
the OCO web site, and print additional copies of Representative who served 26 years
the OCO brochure. • A retired Michigan State Police ofcer
in the Michigan legislature.
who served over 25 years, including
Multi-Disciplinary Team six years as an internal affairs • A former FIA employee with 20 years
The OCO has 13 full-time employees. The investigator. experience, including 6 years as a
staff consists of the Ombudsman, eight foster home licensing and recruitment
• A retired police investigator from
investigators, a supervising investigator, an specialist.
the Detroit Police Department who
intake investigator, and two administrative served over 25 years, including 13 • A former FIA employee with seven
support staff. During this scal year, the years as investigator of criminal child years experience as a Children’s
OCO provided internships to two students maltreatment cases in the child abuse Protective Services worker in Wayne
from Michigan State University. Two graduate unit. County, and 10 years experience as
student interns joined the ofce in September a direct care worker in mental health
• A former assistant prosecuting
2000; one from Michigan State University services.
attorney for child sex abuse cases
School of Social Work, and one from the Detroit
with experience as a law clerk and Training
College of Law, both of whom are participating
legal researcher. Team members receive specialized training
in the Child and Family Advocacy Certicate
Program through the Chance at Childhood: Law • A former Children’s Protective in issues related to child abuse and neglect
and Social Work Initiative.3 Services worker with Indian Child to improve their knowledge and investigative
Welfare experience, and experience techniques.4 During this scal year,
Since the inception of the ofce, the OCO has as a program manager and group investigators participated in FIA’s Child Welfare
focused on a multi-disciplinary team approach social worker for emergency shelter Institute to ensure current knowledge of new
to case investigations. Investigative team homes and residential treatment and updated FIA policies and practices. In
members have a broad range of experience facilities. addition, team members participated in a
variety of state and national conferences and
3 The Chance at Childhood: Law and Social Work Initiative is a • A former educator and counselor with
collaborative program developed by the School of Social Work and training sessions to improve their knowledge
Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University. experience in prevention services with
and skills, and gain an understanding of new
4 See Appendix E. a private social services agency.
research and developments in the eld of child
abuse and neglect.

Operating Protocol
Since the inception of the ofce, an operating
protocol has been established between the
OCO and FIA to enable both agencies to
fulll their respective statutory duties. This
protocol has been rened over the past ve
years to further clarify the relationship between
the two agencies. During this scal year, the
Memorandum of Understanding between the
agencies, originally signed in December 1998
by the Ombudsman and the FIA director, was
revised to establish time frames for responding
to reports issued to the FIA by the OCO. The
revised Memorandum of Understanding was
signed in June 2001.

Complaint Complaint Analysis
The OCO’s primary responsibility is to receive
were birth parents (37 percent), followed by
relatives (26 percent), and foster parents (16.5

Analysis and and investigate complaints from individuals percent). The Ombudsman initiated complaints
concerning children who are involved with the on 86 cases (13 percent) during this scal year.

State because of child abuse and neglect During this reporting period, 158 complaints
issues. were opened for investigation. Of these, 84

Findings During the current reporting period, October
1, 2000, to September 30, 2001, the OCO
received 815 complaints involving 1,274
cases (53 percent) involved protective services,
35 cases (22 percent) involved foster care, 13
cases (8 percent) involved adoption services,
children in 76 of Michigan’s 83 counties, while 26 cases (16 percent) involved a
representing a 12.5 percent increase in the combination of those categories.
number of complaints received compared to the
previous scal year. Review and Analysis of Investigative
Section 5 of PA 2045 outlines the individuals At the conclusion of an investigation, the OCO
who can ofcially make complaints to the either afrms the actions of the FIA or the
OCO. Currently, the statute excludes mandated private agency that handled the child’s case,
reporters of suspected abuse/neglect, such or nds violations of law and/or policy. If
as teachers, school counselors, medical the OCO nds that the actions of FIA
5 PA 204, Section 5, states that the following individuals may make professionals, day care providers, and law and/or the private agency were imposed
a complaint: (a) the child, if he or she is able to articulate a enforcement. While these individuals are without adequate justication or were based on
complaint; (b) a biological parent of the child; (c) a foster parent
of the child; (d) an adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent ineligible to be ofcial complainants, the irrelevant, immaterial, or erroneous grounds,7
of the child; (e) a legally appointed guardian of the child; (f) a Ombudsman has the discretion under Section the OCO issues a draft report of Findings
guardian ad litem of the child; (g) an adult who is related to the
child within the fth degree by marriage, blood, or adoption; (h) a 6 of PA 204 to open a case upon his or her and Recommendations (F&R) to the FIA and/or
Michigan legislator; and, (l) an attorney for any individual listed in own initiative if an investigation is warranted.6 private agency. This report summarizes the
sections (a) through (h).
However, individuals who are not included in case background facts and identies specic
6 PA 204, Section 6 (a) states that the Ombudsman may, “Upon its
own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint from a complainant, PA 204 are not eligible to receive feedback ndings and corresponding recommendations.
investigate an administrative act that is alleged to be contrary
from the OCO regarding action taken on a Recommendations might include providing
to law, rule, or policy of the department or child placing agency,
imposed without an adequate statement of reason, or based on complaint, or notication of the outcome of an additional training for a worker, or the need to
irrelevant, immaterial, or erroneous grounds.”
investigation. amend a law or policy.
7 PA 204, Section 5.
8 In addition, six “exceptional” case closings occurred during the The majority of OCO’s complainants, as During the current reporting period, the OCO
reporting period. These cases do not result in an afrmation or an
F&R. See Appendix C, “case closure” for further explanation. indicated in the Sources of Complainants chart, completed 166 investigations.8 Of these, the

Sources of Complaints Five Reporting Years: Statistical Data Comparison
Report Report Report Report Report Totals for
96-97 97-98 98-99 99-00 00-01 Five Reports

Months in Reporting Period 12 12 15 12 12 63

Number of Complaints 564 533 698 713 815 3,323

Average Number of Complaints per Month 47.0 44.4 46.9 59.4 68 53.14

Total Number of Children Served 1,121 1,063 1,490 1,267 1,274 6,215

Average Number of Children per Month 93.4 88.6 99.4 105.58 106 98.60

Average Number of Children per Complaint 1.99 1.99 2.3 1.78 1.56 1.92

Child – 0 – (0%) Average Age of Children Served NA NA 7.35 7.65 7.79 7.59
Birth Parent – 249 – (37%)
Foster Parent – 107 – (16%)
Adoptive/Prospective Adoptive Parent – 25 – (4%)
Guardian – 7 – (1%)
Relative – 172 – (26%) Types of Complaints Received
Legislator – 7 – (1%)
Complaint Types October 1, 2000 – September 30, 2001
Attorney – 16 – (2%)
Ombudsman – 86 – (13%) Protective Services 84 (53%)

Foster Care 35 (22%)
OCO afrmed the FIA and/or private agency Adoptive Services 13 (8%)
in 86 cases (52 percent) and found violations
and/or case mishandling in 80 cases (48 Combination 26 (16%)
Total Number of Investigations Opened 158 (100%)

9 The number of afrmations and F&Rs represents cases that may
have been opened prior to the reporting period but concluded
during the 2000-2001 reporting period.

FY FY FY Summary of Findings An analysis of the F&Rs issued by the OCO
98-99 99-00 00-01 during the reporting period shows that the
80% following issues were most frequently the
30% 49% 48% subject of ndings:
Affirm. Affirm. Affirm. 70%
70% 51% 52%

• Termination of Parental Rights:
As shown in the three small pie charts, the Under certain specied
percentage of F&Rs issued by the OCO has 40% circumstances, the law requires CPS
risen from 30 percent in FY 1998-1999 to 49 to include a request for termination of
percent in FY 1999-2000 and 48 percent in FY parental rights on the initial petition
2000-2001.10 20%
led with the court. The law also
allows CPS to request termination
Findings are grouped into four main categories: 10% of parental rights when the facts
noncompliance with law and policy, poor and circumstances of a particular
practice/decision making, current law or policy 0%
case warrant such action. The OCO
inadequate, and systems issues. 1998-1999 1999-2000 2000-2001 continues to nd instances where
As indicated in the Summary of Findings chart, Noncompliance with Policy or Law such requests are not made, although
OCO ndings over the past three years reect Poor Practice/Decisions mandated or warranted in a given
almost identical results, with non-compliance Current Law or Policy Inadequate case.
Systems Problems
with existing law and/or policy representing the • Structured Decision Making (SDM):
largest category of ndings, followed by poor The SDM tools consist of various
practice or decision making. The data also forms completed by the CPS worker
indicates that systems issues or inadequate During the current reporting period, the OCO at different stages of an investigation
laws or policies were less likely to contribute to issued 80 F&Rs to the FIA and/or private or an open CPS case. The SDM
case mishandling. agencies. These reports included 413 separate tools help the worker determine
ndings and corresponding recommendations. whether a child’s immediate safety
The majority of OCO ndings (294) represented is threatened, the level of CPS
noncompliance with law and policy, followed intervention required, and the
by poor practice/decision making (109), services needed for a particular
inadequate law or policy (5), and systems family. The OCO found that the SDM
10 This increase may be due, in part, to an enhanced screening of issues (5). forms were not always completed
complaints, which was implemented in FY 99/00.

accurately, leading to an improper or and consider all relevant evidence where no referral to law enforcement
inadequate response by CPS. gathered during an investigation prior was made and/or there was no effort
to determining whether a by CPS to coordinate its investigation
• Review of Family History: Each
preponderance of evidence of abuse with law enforcement.
CPS investigation requires the worker
or neglect exists. The OCO nds
to conduct a thorough review of
the family’s CPS history, including that in some cases, the disposition FOSTER CARE
of a complaint is not consistent with
previous complaints, services • Requests for Termination: Federal
the evidence documented in the CPS
provided, and the family’s level law and FIA policy mandate that
investigation report.
of participation and response. This foster care workers request
information is reviewed to detect • Supervisory Oversight: FIA policy termination of parental rights in
patterns of abuse and neglect and requires supervisors to review CPS certain circumstances. In other
to assess the family’s willingness investigation reports, service plans, situations, a request for termination of
and ability to benet from services. and other documents within 30 parental rights may not be mandated,
The OCO continues to nd instances days of completion. The purpose of but is suggested given the particular
where case history was not reviewed this policy is to ensure accurate facts and circumstances involved.
or was not reviewed thoroughly, completion of documents, review The OCO continues to review cases
leading to an incomplete decision making, and allow timely where requests for termination are
understanding of the current situation. correction of errors, if necessary. not made or are delayed, contrary to
The OCO continues to nd instances permanency planning guidelines.
• Assess Safety and Well-being of
where the documentation would
all Children: CPS policy requires a • Relative Placement: FIA policy
suggest supervisory oversight has not
worker to assess the safety and well- requires that within 30 days of
occurred, or has not occurred within
being of all children in a family even placement of a child with a relative, a
appropriate time frames.
when only one child is alleged to have home study must be completed. The
been mistreated. An allegation may • Working with Law Enforcement: home study must evaluate several
give rise to concern for the safety and The Child Protection Law and CPS specied criteria to ensure that the
well-being of the other children in the policy require that law enforcement placement is in the child’s best
family. The OCO continues to review be contacted within 24 hours of interests and consistent with the case
cases where the safety and well- a CPS complaint alleging a child plan. The OCO nds that in many
being of all children is not adequately has been sexually abused. Law instances placement with a relative is
assessed. and policy also require that CPS made, however, a home study is not
and law enforcement cooperate to completed or the home study does
• CPS Investigation Disposition: A
conduct a joint investigation. The not satisfy the policy requirements.
CPS worker is required to review
OCO continues to review cases
• Supervisory Oversight: FIA policy
requires supervisors to review and
sign foster care service plans. Policy
states that a supervisor’s signature
indicates agreement that the case
progress is adequately documented,
the child continues to need
placement, the current placement
meets the child’s needs, and the
treatment plan is appropriate. The
OCO continues to review cases
where service plans are not signed,
not signed in a timely manner, or
are signed despite deciencies in the
report relating to the above factors.
• Monthly Contacts: Law requires that
the foster care worker visit the foster
child in his or her placement on
a monthly basis. Such contact is
required in order to ensure the child’s
safety and well-being in placement
and to assess the child’s service
needs and progress. The OCO nds
that in many cases monthly visits are
not occurring consistently.

Recommendations “The Ombudsman shall submit to the governor,
the director of the department, and the
legislature an annual report on the conduct
FIA Response:
Agree. Although there have been cases
reviewed by the OCO, in which a worker
of the Ombudsman, including any may not have sufciently documented a case
recommendations regarding the need for history, the OCO has not reviewed a statistically
legislation or for changes in rules and signicant number of cases nor have they
policies.”11 reviewed a representative sample. Although
FIA acknowledges that even one case that
CHILDREN’S PROTECTIVE SERVICES does not meet policy requirements is too
many, the agency believes that this oversight
1. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
is the exception rather than common practice.
CPS ensure compliance with policy that
Nevertheless, to address the small number of
requires workers to thoroughly review and
identied cases, FIA has taken the following
document a parent’s12 CPS and foster care
actions: FIA-CPS policy (CFP 713-10 p. 2,
history, including an assessment of past
effective 5/01/01) claried existing policy to
interventions and outcomes from previous case
“This section must also include documentation,
Rationale: Current FIA policy requires workers
if appropriate, of issues including, but not
to review historical information regarding
limited to:
all previous complaints, investigations and
services. A review of the parent’s history is • Previous complaints and dispositions;
necessary to evaluate the current complaint
in light of previous complaints and accurately • Previous court involvement with the
assess the family situation. The OCO continues family;
to investigate cases where it is apparent that • Prevalent and underlying family
even though the le was available, the worker issues (e.g. substance abuse, lack
did not review this important information. In of parenting skills, child behavioral
other cases, FIA has been unable to locate issues, violence in the home, etc.);
the closed case le, or retrieval from storage
• Previous services with which the
has been so delayed that timely review of the
family has been involved, outcomes
history was not possible.
of the services, and the relevance of
11 PA 204, Section 10(5). these previous services to the current
12 or caretaker with whom the child has been residing.
situation of family;
• Patterns of child abuse and/or the home. Families First services builds on FIA must examine each case individually to
neglect.” identied family strengths to reduce the risk determine if efforts to keep the family together
of harm to the child. Current eligibility criteria are reasonable. In many cases, intensive
Additionally, the OCO’s Annual
allow Families First services to be used, with services such as Families First, serve as the
Recommendations will be shared with all
some exceptions, to address a wide range agency’s last resort to safely keep children
Zones and Urban Counties for discussion with
of family problems and behaviors, including in the care of their parents. Families First is
local ofces to reinforce policy compliance.
chronic problems, such as long-term substance also an excellent means to provide service
Follow-up will occur through targeted case
abuse and mental illness. coordination (e.g. substance abuse treatment,
reading and through the Peer Review Process.
parenting classes, etc.) and integration
The OCO has investigated cases where principles for those services. Families First
2. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
parental drug dependency or severe mental is not mandated as a service to prevent
that Families First services not be used to
illness was the primary contributing factor to removal; rather, Families First is merely an
prevent removal of a child from a family that
child abuse or neglect and Families First option to fulll “reasonable efforts” requirements
presents deeply entrenched chronic problems,
services was insufcient to signicantly improve as appropriate. Families First should remain
such as long-term substance abuse, serious
parental functioning and adequately reduce an option in all cases, but only used when
mental health issues, or patterns of neglectful
the risk of harm to the child over the long appropriate.
or abusive behavior. In addition, further
term. While families exhibiting such serious
research should be conducted to determine
and chronic problems may achieve some short- The Families First program is evaluated on
what presenting problems are most effectively
term benet from this intervention, current an ongoing basis. The outcome criteria for
addressed by the Families First services
research13 indicates they are unlikely to sustain the Families First program are appropriate.
program. The outcome criteria should focus
any meaningful change over time, leaving the If Families First is successful in preventing
on measuring improved family functioning and
child at an unreasonable risk for re-abuse a removal, then family functioning and child
child safety, rather than averting out-of-home
or continued neglect. In cases where the safety has, of necessity, improved. If Families
primary factors impacting family functioning are First is unsuccessful in effecting a change in
Rationale: Families First services is an chronic and deeply entrenched, more effective family functioning and child safety, then CPS
intensive, four-to six-week crisis intervention interventions should be employed to protect the would have to initiate other services and/or
program that may be applied when a child child. approach the court on behalf of the child(ren).
has been abused or neglected and the risk In each Families First case, a services plan
of harm is determined to be so severe that FIA Response: is developed with the family, which focuses on
the child is at imminent risk of removal from Disagree. Federal Law – PL-96-272— and action steps that need to be implemented in
Michigan Law requires that “reasonable efforts” order to achieve improved family functioning
13 Westat, Inc., Chapin Hall Center for Children, University of be made to prevent or eliminate the need and child safety. The objectives/goals are
Chicago, & James Bell Associates, Evaluation of Family
Preservation Programs, U.S. Department of Health and Human for removal, whenever it is possible to specic and measurable. Families First was
Services interim report, January 8, 2001. safely maintain children in his/her own home. never intended to be the “nal” service; rather,
it is a short term intensive service whose goal, whenever a Category I, II, III, or IV disposition the interim, FIA will continue to utilize the
in part, is to engage families and enlist their is reached. However, current FIA policy and Safety Assessment (also a Structured Decision-
cooperation in identifying needed services and practice dictates that the Risk Assessment Making tool) to assist workers in ensuring child
coordinating those services to address both is only completed when a preponderance of safety.
acute and long term/chronic problems. evidence of abuse/neglect is found (Category
I, II, or III investigation dispositions), but FOSTER CARE
In essence, Families First engages difcult not in Category IV cases. When completed
families in such a way as to pave the way accurately, the Risk Assessment tool can be 4. Recommendation: When FIA obtains court
for other services to be utilized effectively. an effective predictor of future harm to a authorization to remove a child from his
The Families First program has been a highly child, regardless of whether a preponderance of or her home and the child is subsequently
successful tool for CPS and for families; evidence of abuse/neglect was found during the placed with the non-custodial parent, the OCO
however, it is not the only tool, neither is it a tool investigation. The level of future risk to children recommends that all of the following actions be
to be used in all cases. CPS must always look in these families should be identied so that taken and documented in the case record:
at individual family needs and take appropriate the worker may refer the family to services,
action, in part based on an assessment of the • An assessment of the needs of the
commensurate with the risk to the child, with child, the parent from whom the child
family’s capacity to achieve behavioral change. the ultimate goal of reducing the likelihood that
CPS cannot put families into “classes” and/or was removed, and the non-custodial
the child will be harmed. parent to determine an appropriate
stereotype families based solely on presenting
conditions and/or maladies. case plan and necessary services.
FIA Response:
Agree in part. The Michigan Child Protection • Provision of services to the child and
3. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
Law requires completion of the “structured the parent from whom the child was
FIA comply with Section 8(d)14 of the Child
decision-making tool” (Risk Assessment) in all removed.
Protection Law (CPL) that requires CPS
workers to complete the Risk Assessment tool Category I-IV cases. Currently, FIA completes • Development of a case plan for
in all Category IV cases. the Risk Assessment tool in Category I, II, reunifying the child with parent from
and III cases; however, the Risk Assessment whom the child was removed, or an
Rationale: Under the Five-Category tool is not systematically available for use in alternative permanency plan if it is
investigation disposition system implemented Category IV cases. FIA is working diligently determined that reunication is not in
in July 1999 pursuant to the CPL, FIA is on the development of the new CPS-SWSS the child’s best interest.
required to complete the Risk Assessment tool system, which will provide this capability when
• Provision of frequent and regular
it is implemented in 2003. Currently, the
parenting time with the parent from
14 Section 8(d) of the CPL states: “Category IV-community services Risk Assessment tool is being completed on
recommended. Following a eld investigation, the department whom the child was removed.
determines that there is not a preponderance of evidence of child Category IV cases as part of a pilot program
abuse or neglect, but the structured decision-making tool indicates in Saginaw and Van Buren Counties. In
that there is future risk of harm to the child…”

• Ongoing contact by the caseworker by the agency. When a child is removed from 5. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
with the child, the non-custodial the home, it is in the child’s best interest to be that FIA review caseworker practice to
parent, and the parent from whom the provided the same level of service regardless of determine whether additional training is needed
child was removed. whether the child is placed in foster care or with to ensure adequate knowledge of and
a non-custodial parent. compliance with foster care placement-related
Rationale: FIA policy requires the actions
outlined above to be completed when a child laws, rules, and policies.15 This includes:
is placed in foster care or with relatives. FIA Response:
Agree in part. FIA concurs that appropriate • Consideration of placement selection
However, FIA has stated that law and policy do criteria
not require the agency to take these actions assessments, services, parenting time, and
when a child is removed from one parent and caseworker-child contacts need to occur; • Procedures that must be followed
placed with the non-custodial parent, under however, the Court sets forth custody related when a child’s placement is changed,
court jurisdiction. The FIA has justied this orders including legal and physical custody, including written notication to the
position stating that a child who resides with parenting time and needed services; this child’s caregivers and the criteria for
a parent is not in an out-of-home placement does not fall under the jurisdiction of FIA. appeal to the Foster Care Review
as dened by PA 116. The OCO nds that Contact standards are set forth in CPS Board
regardless of this technical distinction, the policy and must be adhered to, subject
to the Risk Assessment. CPS must also • Requirements regarding placement
needs and interests of the child warrant the with relatives, including home studies
actions listed above. A child should not be conduct appropriate assessments (Safety, Risk,
Strength/Needs and the Assessment Summary) and written notication of the
deprived of the opportunity to be reunied after agency’s placement decision
removal just because the child is placed with as part of any Category I, II, or III case.
the non-custodial parent instead of in a foster • Maintaining the relationship between
Moreover, a Court may order transfer of siblings in foster care
home. The OCO has investigated cases where custody from one parent to another as a
FIA has obtained a court order for removal and result of a CPS petition; however, this does Rationale: The laws, rules, and policies related
placed the child with the non-custodial parent not imply that the court will keep an open to the placement and replacement of children
without making efforts to resolve the problem abuse/neglect case or that CPS has authority in foster care are directed toward supporting
that led to removal or providing parenting time and/or opportunity to implement a services the permanency plan for the child and meeting
or services to the child or the parents. In some plan. Additionally, as in any custody case, CPS the child’s physical, emotional, educational,
instances, FIA recommended the court case be does not le a custody recommendation; this is and safety needs. The placement criteria that
closed immediately with no further involvement a function of the Friend of the Court. CPS does must be considered when placing or replacing
provide the court with sufcient facts, which the a child in foster care include: the child’s
15 Examples include: Child Placing Rule 400.12404: Placement
court may utilize in its custody decision. placement preferences; proximity to the child’s
criteria; Child Placing Rule 400.12405: Change of Placement;
MCL 722.954a(2) and MCL 712A.13a(9): Placement with relatives; family to facilitate parenting time; maintaining
Policy CFF 722-3: Placement with siblings. relationships among siblings; placement with
relatives; and minimizing the number of upcoming Federal Review. Utilization of the of the parent based on personal
placements for the child. new case reading form will provide a review interviews with the parent, interviews
of a statistically signicant number of cases, with appropriate collateral sources,
While current laws, rules, and policies are from which reliable conclusions can be formed. review of documentation and other
adequate, the OCO continues to review cases If case reading results indicate a systemic informational sources; 2) identication
where foster children are moved without problem, then FIA will approach the issue of appropriate and effective
proper notication to the foster parents/kinship from a statewide perspective. If, however, case interventions for parents when the
caregivers; relatives are denied placement reading results indicate a local issue, then plan is reunication; and 3)
without proper consideration and/or notication; FIA will work with the involved counties. As understanding of the obligation to
home studies of relatives are incomplete; and barriers/needs are identied through the self- achieve the permanency plan within a
siblings are separated or the separation is assessment and subsequent Federal Review, time frame that is consistent with the
maintained without adequate justication. FIA will work to initiate effective measures to child’s developmental needs
resolve the identied needs.
FIA Response: • Implementation of policy to require
Agree in part. All foster care workers have 6. Recommendation: The OCO recommends that if the worker recommends a
participated in a review of the new licensing that FIA and private child-placing agencies permanency plan be extended or
rules when they took effect on January 1, 2001. take steps to improve the development and changed, that the reason be clearly
However, FIA and private agency supervisors implementation of the permanency plan for documented in the Updated Service
will be encouraged to provide their foster children in foster care. This includes: Plan along with an explanation as to
care workers with a refresher course regarding how the recommended extension or
• Heightened supervisory oversight in change is in the child’s best interest
policies relating to placement, replacement,
the development of the initial
notication and sibling placement. Rationale: Except in aggravated
permanency plan and any
circumstances, the State is required to make
Moreover, in 2002, FIA will participate in subsequent changes to the plan
reasonable efforts to make it possible for a
a comprehensive self-assessment and • Increased worker training to child to return home. The Adoption and Safe
subsequent Federal Child and Family Service emphasize the mandate that the Families Act (ASFA) of 1997 claried that “in
On-Site Review, which will thoroughly assess child’s need for safety and determining reasonable efforts …the child’s
each of the identied issues as well as all permanency are the primary health and safety shall be the paramount
factors and barriers that impact those issues, considerations when determining the concern.” However, the OCO continues to
including training needs. In preparation for appropriate permanency plan investigate cases with prolonged reunication
the Federal Review, Program Ofce is in the
• Increased worker training regarding: plans without adequate justication. In some
process of developing a comprehensive case
1) conducting meaningful and instances, the OCO has found that the
reading form that will incorporate all of the
comprehensive initial assessments time frame for reunication is maintained or
policy/law issues that will be targeted in the

extended despite a parent’s continued lack of believes that this oversight is the exception dangerous for FIA to emphasize time frames at
signicant progress toward achieving the goals rather than common practice. the expense of the best interest of children.
of the case plan. In other cases, the decision
to prolong a child’s time in foster care appears It is important to understand that FIA works in Nevertheless, to address the small number
to focus on the parent’s interests rather than on concert with lawyer guardian ad-litems, private of identied cases, FIA has taken the
the child’s needs to achieve permanency and agencies, parents, foster parents, prosecuting following actions: FIA will review supervisory
stability. attorneys and the courts. Courts review all responsibilities and advocate for realistic
case service plans and permanency plans. expectations that allow sufcient time and
Michigan law states that, in most instances, Courts often provide clear direction to the resources to ensure that workers are engaging
a permanency planning hearing must be agency regarding permanency. All partners in effective case planning that strengthens
held within 12 months of removal of the work together to serve the best interest of the child and the family. Each case must
child. However, if the parent does not make children. be assessed individually and workers need
signicant progress on the case plan and to become increasingly effective at identifying
reunication efforts are no longer justied, then The OCO asserts that “the decision to prolong a family’s capacity to change, as soon as
a change in the permanency plan can be a child’s time in foster care appears (emphasis possible in the process. FIA will emphasize the
made before the 12 months have expired. added) to focus on providing the parent with importance of effective supervisory oversight in
The majority of the grounds for termination more time to comply with the case plan rather the development of the initial permanency plan
of parental rights do not require the passage than on the child’s need to achieve permanency and subsequent plans. FIA will reinforce the
of a specied time period before termination and stability.” The decision to provide some importance of documenting justication for an
can be pursued or granted. Of those that parents with additional time to comply with extension and/or change to a permanency plan.
are dependent on time frames, the longest a service plan is not necessarily mutually
such time frame is 182 days from the initial exclusive of the child’s need to achieve Moreover, in 2002, FIA will participate in
dispositional order. permanency. The time frames as set forth in a comprehensive self-assessment and
statute are not hard lines; rather, they are subsequent Federal Child and Family Service
guidelines to assist in decision making. All On-Site Review, which will thoroughly assess
FIA Response:
throughout the process, the child’s best interest each of the identied issues as well as all
Agree. Although there have been cases
is the key determinant, not an arbitrary time factors and barriers that impact those issues,
reviewed by the OCO, in which permanency
frame. Statute allows for the agency to present including training needs. In preparation for
was inappropriately delayed, the OCO has not
the court with “compelling reasons” for going the Federal Review, Program Ofce is in the
reviewed a statistically signicant number of
beyond established time frames. FIA does not process of developing a comprehensive case
cases nor have they reviewed a representative
minimize the signicance of the parent-child reading form that will incorporate all of the
sample. Although FIA acknowledges that even
bond and we do not act on the belief that policy/law issues that will be targeted in the
one case wherein a child’s permanency is
children are better off in adoptive homes so upcoming Federal Review. Utilization of the
inappropriately delayed is too many, the agency
long as they can get there quickly. It is new case reading form will provide a review

of a statistically signicant number of cases, despite the existence of laws and policies child; and 2) it establishes a record of the
from which reliable conclusions can be formed. geared toward achieving permanency through court’s response to the petition, which is
If case reading results indicate a systemic termination. The following explanations have required in instances where a party to the case
problem, then FIA will approach the issue been provided by local agencies: desires to challenge that response.
from a statewide perspective. If, however, case
reading results indicate a local issue, then • FIA must access the court through While the OCO is cognizant of the need
FIA will work with the involved counties. As the prosecutor’s ofce and the to maintain cooperative working relationships
barriers/needs are identied through the self- prosecutor’s ofce has refused to le among the FIA, private agencies, the
assessment and subsequent Federal Review, the petition on the agency’s behalf. prosecuting attorney’s ofce, and the court, the
FIA will work to initiate effective measures to agency must fulll its responsibility to petition
• FIA believes they cannot le a petition
resolve the identied needs. the court when it is in the child’s best interests
unless granted permission in advance
to do so. If a specic county or agency
by the court.
7. Recommendation: The OCO recommends perceives the existence of barriers to fullling
that when an agency documents in the foster • FIA does not le petitions in cases this obligation, the county or agency should
care case service plan that reunication efforts where it is believed, based on past pursue resolution with the prosecutor’s ofce,
are unreasonable (or no longer reasonable) experience, that the court will not court administration, etc.
and grounds for termination of parental rights accept the petition or will not rule in
exist, the agency take immediate steps to the agency’s favor. FIA Response:
le a termination petition unless the agency • Private foster care agencies report Agree. Within the OCO Recommendation is
documents that termination of parental rights is that the relationship with their local the acknowledgment that ling petitions is not
clearly not in the child’s best interest. FIA ofce is such that the local solely within the discretion of FIA. For example,
FIA must provide approval before a the courts often set forth procedures that
Rationale: The OCO has investigated cases
petition can be led, and FIA has dictate the process for submitting a petition to
where the foster care worker documented in
refused to do so. the court. Some courts require that petitions
the case service plan that reunication efforts come through the local Prosecuting Attorney’s
were unreasonable (or no longer reasonable), The agency with case responsibility is the Ofce, while others accept a petition directly
grounds for termination of parental rights petitioner in abuse/neglect proceedings and is from FIA. All parties must work together on a
existed, and termination was in the child’s best responsible for petitioning the court to take the long-term basis and it is generally in the best
interest, yet the worker failed to le a petition to action the petitioner believes is in the child’s interest of children for all parties to establish
terminate parental rights. best interests. The purpose of proceeding with and maintain cooperative working relationships.
the actual ling of a petition rather than merely When FIA acts independent of its partners,
The OCO has been provided several documenting that termination is the appropriate barriers are established that are difcult to
explanations as to why this practice continues plan is twofold: 1) it is the necessary next step remove.
in some counties or with some agencies, towards achieving permanency for a particular

Nevertheless, FIA is currently in the process of Pertinent Statutes state: of in-home visits required under this
reviewing applicable policy for potential change/ subsection, the supervising agency
clarication, to strengthen language regarding • If a juvenile is removed from his shall institute a exible schedule
FIA’s responsibility to le termination petitions or her home, the court shall permit to provide a number of hours
when it is either mandated, or grounds exist, the juvenile’s parent to have frequent outside of the traditional workday to
and it is in the child’s best interest. FIA is parenting time with the juvenile. accommodate the schedules of the
also working to support the eld’s attempts to However, if parenting time, even if individuals involved.18
resolve local issues with the court/prosecuting supervised, may be harmful to the
juvenile, the court shall order the child Pertinent Policies state:
attorney in attempt to reinforce the mandatory
nature of certain petitions and negotiate to have a psychological evaluation • Supervising agencies must use
a mechanism for allowing FIA to le as or counseling, or both, to determine parenting time to maintain and
required. Additionally, Outstate Operations has the appropriateness and the strengthen the relationship between
developed mechanisms for utilizing private conditions of parenting time. The parent and child. By facilitating weekly
pay attorneys to assist local FIA ofces in court may suspend parenting time parent/child parenting time, agency
ling petitions in situations wherein the local while the psychological evaluation or staff can positively inuence the
prosecuting attorney will not assist FIA and the counseling is conducted.16 length of time children stay in the
petition is either mandated or indicated. • Unless parenting time, even if foster care system and the time
supervised, would be harmful to the required to achieve permanence.19
8. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
that FIA and private child-placing agencies child as determined by the court • The frequency of parenting time prior
comply with the laws and policies pertaining to under section 13a of this chapter or to the dispositional hearing is an
parenting time in foster care cases with a goal otherwise, a schedule for regular and important indicator of how quickly
of reunication. frequent parenting time between the children can be reunited with their
child and his or her parent shall be families, when this is the plan.
implemented and shall not be less Therefore, the more frequent the
than once every 7 days.17 parenting time the more likely the
• The supervising agency shall require child will return home.20
that its worker make monthly visits • The supervising agency is to institute
16 MCL 712A13a(11)
to the home or facility in which a exible schedule to provide a
17 MCL 712A18f(3)(e) each child is placed. The supervising number of hours outside of the
18 MCL 722.954b(3) agency shall also require its worker to traditional workday to accommodate
19 FIA policy CFF 722-6. monitor and assess in-home visitation the schedules of the individuals
20 Ibid between the child and his or her involved.21
21 Ibid
parents. To ensure the occurrence
• Parenting time is to occur in a child progress is reported to the court at each review regarding the requirements of the protocol, then
and family friendly setting conducive hearing, the agency should make every effort to FIA, the County Prosecutor’s ofce and law
to normal interaction between the enhance the quality, duration and frequency of enforcement agencies should work together to
child and parent.22 parenting time. Unless these efforts are made, ensure compliance with this law.
parenting time cannot be used to accurately
Rationale: It is well documented that the quality Rationale: Section 8(6) of the CPL requires
gauge the potential success of reunication or
and frequency of parenting time correlates that the prosecuting attorney and the FIA in
accomplish the stated goal of maintaining and
signicantly with the success or failure of a each county adopt and implement a standard
strengthening the parent-child relationship.
family reunication plan. However, the OCO child abuse and neglect investigation and
continues to see a lack of compliance with interview protocol. Effective in 1998, the law
the above-noted laws and policies designed FIA Response:
recommended that the protocol be modeled
to facilitate successful parenting time and Agree. It is imperative that supervising
after one developed by the Governor’s Task
thus successful reunication plans. In many agencies have exible parenting time to
Force on Children’s Justice. Development of an
instances, the OCO nds that foster care accommodate individual schedules. It is also
investigation and interview protocol is essential
agencies provide the minimum amount of important that the environment in which
to ensure that FIA and local law enforcement
parenting time required by law (generally one parenting time occurs allows for normal,
jurisdictions coordinate their joint child abuse/
hour, once a week) rather than developing quality interaction between the child(ren) and
neglect investigations, share information, and
parenting time plans that meet the unique the parent(s). However, the court oversees
eliminate duplication of efforts. As stated in
needs of each case. In addition, supervised parenting time and often sets the parameters
FIA policy, “It is extremely important that CPS
parenting time often occurs at the agency for parenting time, over which FIA/private
staff and law enforcement personnel recognize
in surroundings that may not be conducive agencies have no control. FIA supports
and respect each other’s respective roles
to normal interactions between parents and increased training for agency staff on the
and responsibilities in a joint investigation.
children. Since parenting time is a measured value of parenting time, especially during the
Every effort must be made to maintain
component of a parent’s case service plan and immediate period following the initial removal
communication, coordination and cooperation
from the home.
22 Ibid
between the two professions, and each must
23. The Michigan Child Protection Law, Section 8 (6), states, “In each be sensitive to the professional needs of the
county, the prosecuting attorney and the department shall develop SYSTEMS ISSUES other.”24
and establish procedures for involving law enforcement ofcials as
provided in this section. In each county, the prosecuting attorney 9. Recommendation: The OCO recommends
The OCO continues to investigate cases where
and the department shall adopt and implement a standard child that all of Michigan’s 83 counties ensure that
abuse and neglect investigation and interview protocols using as it is apparent that the required protocols have
a model the protocols developed by the governor’s task force a child abuse and neglect investigation and
not been adhered to or implemented, as
on children’s justice as published in FIA Publication 794 (8-98) interview protocol has been developed and
and FIA Publication 779 (8-98), or an updated version of those evidenced by the following situations:
publications. implemented as required by Section 8(6)23 of
24 “Coordination with Prosecuting Attorney and Law Enforcement,” the Child Protection Law. If a protocol does not • CPS failed to make a referral to
Children’s Protective Services manual, FIA policy CFP 712-3.
exist in each county, or if there is confusion law enforcement within 24 hours of
receiving abuse/neglect allegations, neglect is found, and that the child a) A child would be living in the same
as required by law and FIA policy. victim and siblings are protected. household with a parent or other adult who has
Instead, CPS rst conducted its been convicted of criminal sexual conduct OR
• Not all law enforcement jurisdictions
investigation to determine whether ATTEMPTED CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT
within a county were aware of the
the allegations had a basis in fact. (CSC) against a child.
CPS has stated to the OCO that
they were informed by local law Rationale: The OCO investigated a case
FIA Response: where a child’s father had sexually abused
enforcement that actual evidence of Agree. Currently 82 counties have a joint
abuse is necessary prior to notifying an unrelated child and was arrested and
investigation protocol in place. The remaining charged with CSC 2nd degree involving the
law enforcement. county is currently working to establish a minor. The father accepted a plea bargain and
• Law enforcement and CPS conducted protocol. The OCO needs to be mindful of the was convicted of the lesser crime, attempted
a joint investigation but relevant fact that there are many different agencies that CSC 4th degree. Later, during abuse/neglect
parties were not interviewed, must work together to successfully implement a proceedings, the father requested the child be
information was not shared, there was protocol. FIA is only one partner, a partner with placed with him and FIA provided services to
a lack of follow-up on statements no enforcement authority over other partners. achieve that goal. This action was permissible,
made during interviews, or evidence Successful implementation requires the active in part, because the law only precludes the
collected. participation of all members. In situations State from expending funds to reunify a child
wherein other member agencies struggle with with a person convicted of CSC against a
• CPS did not make law enforcement collaboration, FIA is committed to working child. Current FIA boilerplate language is not
referrals at all, even in situations to resolve barriers and improve collaborative sufcient because it does not encompass those
where the law clearly mandated that efforts; FIA has utilized the PAAM contract individuals who may have committed CSC
one be made.25 to work with counties to achieve compliance. against a child, yet accepted a plea bargain
• Law enforcement handled a criminal Moreover, FIA will continue to work to ensure for a lesser offense. Such individuals pose
child abuse case, but failed to that every county has a functional, effective no less of a threat to children because the
notify CPS when the perpetrator joint investigation protocol. ultimate conviction was attempted CSC, rather
was a person responsible for the than CSC.
child. Notication to CPS would PROPOSED LEGISLATIVE
ensure that the alleged perpetrator is AMENDMENTS FIA Response:
placed on the Central Registry if a
10. Recommendation: The OCO recommends Agree. FIA concurs that individuals who are
preponderance of evidence of abuse/
that the standard language in the annual FIA convicted of attempted CSC pose a similar
25 A similar recommendation was made in the OCO 1996-1997 Appropriations Act26 be amended to read: threat to children as those who have been
Annual Report. convicted of CSC, 1st through 4th degrees.
26 Section 509(1)(a) of Act 82 of 2001
Additionally, Program Ofce will review CPS
and Foster Care policy regarding use of FIA Response: are not. The vast majority of child deaths
community/other services to families to ensure Neither Agree Nor Disagree. Although FIA occur in children under the age of ve. These
policy is consistent regardless of funding strives to work cooperatively with the OCO, children are not in school and are often
source. we have the following concerns regarding very limited in their contacts with mandated
the OCO’s recommendation: The OCO would reporters. Children under the age of ve are
11. Recommendation: The OCO recommends particularly vulnerable to life threatening abuse
compare itself to a public or private child
that Section 5 of the Child Protection Law and/or neglect and FIA relies heavily on non-
protection agency and/or law enforcement
be amended to include (n) The Children’s mandated reporters to le complaints of abuse/
when in reality the OCO has no such
Ombudsman, to read: neglect on behalf of these children.
similar function. The OCO does not investigate
Sec. 5. Except for records available allegations of child abuse or neglect. Rather,
FIA is concerned about further erosion of
under section 7(2)(a), (b), and (n), the OCO investigates child protection agencies
protections offered to individuals who report
the identity of a reporting person is for failure to perform a statutorily mandated
child abuse/neglect. As such, FIA will continue
condential subject to disclosure only function or failing to follow the policy the agency
to encourage the reporting of abuse/neglect by
with the consent of that person or by develops to assist in carrying out its mandate.
the general public, in part by protecting their
judicial process. right to report with a high degree of condence
Moreover, to accord the OCO access to
Rationale: Section 7 of the CPL lists the requested information would further erode that their name will be kept condential. At a
the persons or agencies who may receive public condence in the condentiality of the minimum, FIA would suggest that the OCO’s
Children’s Protective Services case les in reporting source; this would also potentially recommended change to the Child Protection
order to carry out their duties as required increase the risk of unauthorized or inadvertent Law be amended to include the following
by law. However, under Section 5 of the disclosure of that information. As an example, language in Section 7 (2) (n): “However,
CPL, the identity of persons reporting child family members (and, therefore perpetrators) the Ombudsman may not disclose the
abuse or neglect must be kept condential, are individuals that are authorized to le identity of a reporting person for any
except for records provided to: (a) A legally a complaint with the Ombudsman. There is reason whatsoever.” FIA also suggests similar
mandated public or private child protective potential for the identity of a protective services language be included in PA 204 Section 9.
agency investigating a report of known or complaint source to be inadvertently released
suspected child abuse or neglect; and (b) to a person who is listed on the Central
A police or other law enforcement agency Registry, therefore placing the complaint source
investigating a report of known or suspected who is a family member at risk of harm
child abuse or neglect. In order to thoroughly for retaliation. Additionally, mandated reporters
investigate a child abuse/neglect complaint, the may be somewhat accustomed to receiving
Children’s Ombudsman must be provided with follow-up contacts from oversight/regulatory
complete case le documentation, including the agencies; however, non-mandated reporters
identity of the reporting person.
Progress on One of the OCO’s key statutory responsibilities
is to make recommendations to the FIA and
Over the past ve years, the OCO has made
a total of 105 recommendations for changes to

Previous Annual
the legislature for changes in State laws, State laws and agency rules and policies. Of
policies, and procedures governing Michigan’s those recommendations, 74 (70 percent) have

child welfare system. These recommendations been implemented, 16 (15 percent) have been
are issued in each OCO annual report and arise partially implemented, and 15 (14 percent) have
from complaints received and/or investigated by not been implemented.
Recommendations the OCO during the previous reporting period.

(1995-2000) Year
Progress on Annual Report Recommendations 1995 - 2000
Implemented Partially
Total Number

1995-96 52 8 1 61

1996-97 11 5 3 19

1997-98 4 0 1 5

1998-99 5 1 6 12

1999-00 2 2 4 8

Total 74 (70%) 16 (15%) 15 (14%) 105

Recommendations Partially Implemented
Policy/Practice Law Total

16 0 16

Recommendations Not Implemented
Policy/Practice Law Total

8 6 14

LEGISLATIVE RECOMMENDATIONS otherwise related to the child by blood or afnity into a home where children reside. The CPS
to the third degree,” the law would allow the “Notice of Action and Rights” due process letter
State to hold relatives, who do not reside in the sent to substantiated perpetrators placed on the
As indicated in the chart, six legislative child’s home, but who have a close, personal Central Registry should inform the perpetrator
recommendations made by the OCO have not relationship with the child, responsible under of this new policy. The OCO also recognizes
been implemented to date. In response to the the denition of “nonparent adult” if they harm a perpetrator’s right, as part of due process,
OCO, the FIA indicated agreement or partial the child. At the present time, CPS is unable to le a request for expunction. Therefore, if a
agreement with ve of the recommendations. to substantiate and list such an individual as a perpetrator has led a request for expunction
Some recommendations are presently under perpetrator on the Central Registry. according to the process outlined in the due
consideration by the legislature. The proposed process notication letter, the FIA shall not
recommendations for legislative action are 3. Provide CPS Records to Family Court: release the Central Registry information until
outlined below, and continue to be supported by The OCO recommends a statutory amendment the request for expunction process has been
the OCO: to the CPL requiring the FIA to provide completed.
information to the Family Court with jurisdiction
1. Friend of the Court Records: The over a custody/visitation or guardianship case 5. Attorney Representation at Court
OCO recommends that Friend of the Court when CPS nds a preponderance of evidence Hearings: The OCO recommends a statutory
reports shall be allowed into evidence in child that a child has been abused or neglected provision be enacted to require that at CPS
protective proceedings. and: a) the FIA is aware that the child is the and foster care hearings the FIA or its contract
subject of court ordered custody/visitation or a agency be represented by an attorney.
2. Nonparent Adult Denition: The OCO
legal guardianship; and/or b) the FIA is aware
recommends a statutory amendment to the 6. Expand Denition of “Omission”: The
that the adult perpetrator is a party to a court
denition of “nonparent adult” found in MCL OCO recommends a statutory amendment
ordered custody/visitation action or is a court
722.622(2)(n)(iii). Currently, MCL 722.622(2) to Section 136b(1)(b) of the Michigan Penal
appointed legal guardian of a child.
identies individuals who may be held Code to expand the denition of the term
responsible for abusing and/or neglecting a 4. Disclose Central Registry Information: “omission” to include identical language as
child. The “nonparent adult” category allows the The OCO recommends a statutory change found in Section 2(f)(ii) of the Child Protection
State to hold individuals who have substantial to the CPL requiring CPS to disclose Law. Specically, the OCO recommends the
and regular contact with the child, and a close certain Central Registry information to parents. following amended language:
relationship with a person responsible for the Specically, the CPL should be amended to
child’s health or welfare, but are not legally direct the FIA to release Central Registry “Omission” means a willful failure to
responsible for the child, liable for harming information to a parent or a person legally provide the food, clothing, or shelter
that child. The OCO recommends amending responsible for a child if the FIA becomes necessary for a child’s welfare or the
subsection (iii) to simply read, “Is not the child’s aware that an individual with a substantiated willful abandonment of a child, or
parent.” By striking the phrase, “or a person history of child abuse or neglect has moved placing a child at an unreasonable

risk to the child’s health or welfare by
failure of the parent, legal guardian, or
any other person responsible for the
child’s health or welfare to intervene
to eliminate that risk when that person
is able to do so and has, or should
have, knowledge of the risk.
The OCO recognizes that budgetary
considerations may prevent implementation of
some recommendations in a particular scal

Appendix A Acknowledgments
The OCO would like to thank Governor John
Engler for the opportunity to improve the
child welfare system, and the State Senators
and State Representatives of the Michigan
legislature for their continuing interest in our
The OCO also appreciates the cooperation and
efforts of FIA Director Douglas Howard, the staff
of the Ofce of the Family Advocate, and the
staff of FIA and private child-placing agencies
throughout the State. In particular, the OCO
would like to acknowledge FIA and private
agency front-line workers for their dedicated
and caring efforts on behalf of Michigan’s
While it is impossible to acknowledge everyone
who has played a signicant role in the
continuing efforts of the OCO, we are grateful
to all those individuals who have provided
us with their assistance and expert advice.
The OCO is also grateful to those individuals
who have contacted the ofce on behalf of
at-risk children. We hope that we have served
them, and the children that they brought to our
attention, well.
Finally, acknowledgment must be given to the
professional and indispensable efforts of the
staff who comprise the Ofce of the Children’s
Ombudsman for their dedication to assisting
the citizens who contact the ofce on behalf of
children in need.

Appendix B OCO Investigations by County
(October 1, 2000 to September 30, 2001)

County Investigations County Investigations County Investigations

Alcona 0 Gratiot 1 Missaukee 0
Alger 2 Hillsdale 2 Monroe 2
Allegan 4 Houghton 1 Montcalm 2
Alpena 0 Huron 0 Montmorency 1
Antrim 3 Ingham 13 Muskegon 3
Arenac 1 Ionia 2 Newaygo 2
Baraga 0 Iosco 0 Oakland 21
Barry 0 Iron 0 Oceana 1
Bay 7 Isabella 1 Ogemaw 0
Benzie 1 Jackson 4 Ontonagon 0
Berrien 0 Kalamazoo 6 Osceola 1
Branch 2 Kalkaska 1 Oscoda 0
Calhoun 5 Kent 14 Otsego 1
Cass 1 Keweenaw 0 Ottawa 1
Charlevoix 0 Lake 1 Presque Isle 0
Cheboygan 0 Lapeer 1 Roscommon 0
Chippewa 0 Leelanau 0 Saginaw 4
Clare 0 Lenawee 3 St. Clair 6
Clinton 1 Livingston 1 St. Joseph 3
Crawford 2 Luce 1 Sanilac 4
Delta 0 Mackinac 0 Schoolcraft 0
Dickinson 0 Macomb 15 Shiawassee 2
Eaton 1 Manistee 0 Tuscola 1
Emmet 0 Marquette 1 Van Buren 1
Genesee 13 Mason 0 Washtenaw 1
Gladwin 0 Mecosta 3 Wayne 47
Gogebic 0 Menominee 0 Wexford 2
27 The total number (225) is higher than the number of cases
Grand Traverse 4 Midland 1
investigated (166) because some investigations involved more Total 22527
than one county.

examine trends and patterns, and compile the
results of investigations.

This appendix describes the procedures the If a complaint falls outside the jurisdiction of
OCO has established under the mandate of PA PA 204, the Intake Investigator will refer the
204, Section 4(2)28 to receive and investigate complainant to other agencies or individuals
complaints. who may be able to assist in resolving the
problem. All complaints that fall within the
Condentiality statutory guidelines of PA 204 are brought to
The OCO’s investigative records are by law the attention of the Ombudsman and a decision
condential, and are exempt from Freedom of is made regarding what course of action will be
Information Act (FOIA) requests. taken.

Section 5 of PA 204 lists those individuals29 Complaints generally fall into three categories:
who can ofcially make complaints to the OCO. Inquiries, Referrals, and Valid Complaints.
While certain individuals are not eligible to be
ofcial complainants, the Ombudsman has the Inquiries are complaints that do not involve
discretion under Section 6 of PA 204 to open a CPS, foster care, or adoption services. These
case upon his own initiative if he believes that complaints might involve custody matters,
an investigation is warranted. child support, school problems, or juvenile
delinquency, which the OCO has no statutory
Complaints are received via telephone, mail, authority to investigate. Inquiries also include
fax, and e-mail, with the majority of complaints general requests for information about some
28 PA 204, Section 4(2):“The Ombudsman shall establish procedures
being received by telephone. All complaints are aspect of the child welfare system.
for receiving and processing complaints from complainants, directed to the Intake Investigator. Standard
conducting investigations, holding hearings, and reporting ndings
information, such as the complainant’s name, During this scal year, 134 complaints were
resulting from investigations.”
29 PA 204, Section 5, states that the following individuals may make address, telephone number, and names and classied as inquiries.
a complaint: (a) the child, if he or she is able to articulate a ages of the children involved, are entered into
complaint; (b) a biological parent of the child; (c) a foster parent Referrals are complaints that concern a child
of the child; (d) an adoptive parent or prospective adoptive parent the OCO’s automated database, along with a
involved with CPS, foster care, or adoption
of the child; (e) a legally appointed guardian of the child; (f) a summary of the complaint and the action the
guardian ad litem of the child; (g) an adult who is related to the services, but the complaint is not about the FIA
child within the fth degree by marriage, blood, or adoption; (h) a complainant is requesting from the OCO. The
or a private agency. Rather, the complaint is
Michigan legislator; and, (I) an attorney for any individual listed in condential database allows the OCO to track
sections (a) through (h). about a component of the child welfare system
the characteristics and progress of each case,
that the OCO has no jurisdiction to investigate; valid complaint is not opened for investigation, Investigations
for example, law enforcement, attorneys, or the a verbal or written decision and explanation When a complaint is accepted for investigation,
court system. is provided to the complainant along with a letter is sent informing the complainant
additional information or suggestions to assist that the case will be reviewed. Goals for
During this scal year, 98 complaints were them. In September 1999, a new category, the investigation are established by the
classied as referrals. “valid complaint-not opened,” was added to the Ombudsman and the Intake Investigator, and
Verbal or written referral information is provided automated database to enable the OCO to are entered into the OCO’s condential
to those individuals whose complaints are track these complaints. database. A request for the case le is made
classied as “inquiries” or “referrals,” to assist through the FIA’s Ofce of the Family Advocate
Pursuant to PA 204, Section 7(3),30 the
in resolving their particular problem or provide indicating the type of case (CPS, foster care, or
OCO encourages individuals to pursue existing
them the information they are seeking. adoption) and the nature of the complaint.
remedies to address their concerns before the
Valid complaints fall within the statutory OCO accepts a complaint for investigation. For Section 8 of PA 20431 authorizes the FIA
guidelines of PA 204. These complaints example, if a foster parent complains that a and/or private agency to release condential
concern the actions or inaction of the FIA and/or worker is not providing needed services to case le documentation to the Ombudsman,
a private agency as they relate to a child who a foster child, the OCO will recommend the and to assist the Ombudsman in obtaining
is involved with CPS, foster care, or adoption foster parent contact the worker’s supervisor or the necessary releases for those documents
services. Not all complaints that fall within the agency director to see if the problem can be that are specically restricted. Upon receipt of
OCO’s authority are opened for investigation. resolved by the agency. If the problem cannot the case le, the case is assigned to a lead
For example, a complaint might concern an be resolved, the OCO may open the case. investigator.
event which occurred many years prior and
Preliminary Investigations Each complaint assigned for investigation is
involvement by the OCO would not serve any
In some instances, the intake investigator subjected to a comprehensive review process.
purpose, or a complaint is in regard to an issue
may need more information about a complaint Generally, the investigation focuses on the
that has since been addressed through new
before it can be determined whether an issues identied by the complainant. However,
policy or law. In some cases, the complainant
investigation by the OCO is appropriate the investigation is not limited to those issues
may request an outcome that the OCO has no
or warranted. In such cases, the intake and if other violations of law or policy are
authority to provide, such as restoring parental
investigator may contact the agency worker or found, they will be addressed in a report
rights; or the complainant simply disagrees
supervisor, or other collateral sources to gather to the agency. Case investigations are time-
with the agency’s actions, even though the
additional information to assist in making a intensive and involve a thorough review of the
agency has complied with law and policy. If a
determination. documentation included in the case le.

30 See Appendix F, p. 42
In addition to a review of the case le,
31 See Appendix F, p. 42 investigations include interviews with agency

personnel and other interested parties, and letter from the OCO that includes the OCO’s the case have changed. In this instance, the
in some instances, court appearances, case recommendations, the agency’s response, and OCO sends a closing letter to the complainant
conferences, and consultations with outside any actions taken by the agency to correct the outlining the issue(s) involved in the case and
experts. Throughout the investigative process identied problem(s). A copy of this letter is the reason(s) for case closure.
team members consult with each other, as also sent to the FIA or private agency with the
well as the Ombudsman and the supervising identity of the complainant removed. In a few instances, case closure is requested
investigator, to discuss case progress and any by the complainant after the case is opened,
emergent issues. In some cases, the OCO may issue a letter but prior to an investigation being commenced.
to the complainant afrming the agency’s The Ombudsman may decide not to conduct
actions with regard to the complainant’s specic an investigation under these circumstances, but
concern, but issue an F&R to the agency if instead send a letter to the complainant and
At the conclusion of an investigation, the OCO
other violations are found. For example, the to the FIA and/or private agency indicating that
either afrms or disafrms the actions of the
complainant may allege that protective services the case has been closed at the complainant’s
agency in question. If the OCO concludes that
did not adequately investigate an allegation request. The Ombudsman may also choose
the FIA and/or the private agency complied
of abuse and neglect. The OCO nds that to proceed with the investigation upon the
with law and policy, a letter is sent to
the complaint was properly investigated, and Ombudsman’s own initiative.
the complainant which restates the original
the child is now in foster care. However, in
complaint, outlines the steps taken by the OCO
reviewing the case le, the OCO nds violations
to investigate the case, and afrms the actions
related to the handling of the foster care case.
of the agency. A copy of this letter, with the
In this instance, an afrmation letter is sent
identity of the complainant removed, is sent to
to the complainant with regard to the specic
the FIA and/or private agency involved in the
complaint, and an F&R regarding the violations
pertaining to foster care is issued to the agency.
If the OCO nds that the actions of FIA
and/or the private agency did not comply Case Closure
with law or policy, or were imposed without Case closure generally occurs when the closing
adequate statement of reason or were based letter is sent to the complainant either afrming
on irrelevant, immaterial, or erroneous grounds, the actions of the FIA and/or private agency,
the OCO issues a draft report of Findings or reporting the recommendations from an
and Recommendations (F&R) to the FIA and/or F&R. Occasionally, a case is closed because
private agency. Agencies are provided with 60 the complainant’s issues have been resolved,
days to review and respond to the Findings either by the actions of the FIA or private
and Recommendations detailed in the report. agency, or by another entity such as the
The complainant then receives a closing court, or because the circumstances affecting
Appendix D OCO Intake Process

Complaint is received via
phone, mail, e-mail, or fax.

Preliminary investigation Request for information,
conducted by intake investigator inquiry, or referral.

Valid complaint issue Verbal or written information
involving PS, FC, or AS. given. No further action.

Intake investigator reviews
complaint with Ombudsman.

OCO chooses not to open OCO chooses to open
for investigation. for investigation.

Verbal or written information and See flowchart for
decision given to complainant. No investigative process.
further action.

OCO Investigation Process

OCO orders case files from FIA and/or private agency
and sends complainant letter of investigation

Once file is received it is assigned to an investigator

Investigative Process
1. Review complaint issues and goal
2. Scrutinize case file documentation
3. Interview FIA/agency staff & collateral sources
4. Compare agency actions with relevant laws,
rules and policies
5. Other investigative activities

Affirm actions of agency(ies) No Finding & Recommendation (F&R) is written by
violations Violations
and draft affirmation lead investigator and sent to multidisciplinary
found found
letter to complainant and team for review and comments
agency(ies) involved

F&R is discussed with investigative team and
additional changes are made. F&R is then sent
Letter is reviewed and to Ombudsman for review and approval
approved by Ombudsman
then sent to complainant
with copy to agency(ies)
F&R is sent to agency(ies) who are requested
to respond in writing within 60 days to OCO

Case is closed to complainant*
OCO integrates FIA's action/response to F&R
into a closing letter to complainant and sends
*OCO may close a case to a complainant to FIA. Agency is given 5 days in which to make
based upon the issue presented. any additional comments to closing letter
However, the OCO may still write an
F&R on the case based upon other
issues that arose or were discovered
during the course of the investigation. Closing letter, including OCO recommendations OCO and FIA may meet at the
and FIA/agency action(s), sent to complainant request of either agency to
and a copy to agency involved discuss any unresolved issues

Case is closed to complainant

Appendix E Multi-disciplinary Team Training
October 1, 2000 – September 30, 2001
• Specialized Child Abuse Training –
Legislative, Legal and Policy Update,
Prosecuting Attorney’s Association of
Michigan, Lansing
• Governor’s Task Force on Children’s • 3rd National Roundtable on
Justice Summit, “The Effects of Implementing the Adoption & Safe
Violence on Children,” Lansing Families Act – American Humane
• FIA – 7th Annual Medical Conference Association – Baltimore, Maryland
– “Lies, Lesions and Lives Ruined: • Violence Against Women Project –
The Manifestations of Child Domestic Violence and Child Welfare
Maltreatment,” Mt. Pleasant Think Tank – Prosecuting Attorney’s
• Michigan Association of Community Association of Michigan, East Lansing
Mental Health, Annual Fall • 6th Biannual Conference on Child
Conference, Traverse City Maltreatment: Abusive Head Trauma,
• Michigan Association of Community DeVos Children’s Hospital, Grand
Mental Health Boards Annual Winter Rapids
Conference, “Partnerships and • National Association of Counsel for
Collaboration,” Lansing Children, 23rd National Children’s
• Michigan League for Human Services Law Conference, “Improving the
88th Annual Conference: “Investing Professional Response to Children in
in Michigan’s Future: Widening the the Legal System,” Washington, D.C.
Opportunities for All,” Lansing • 13th National Conference on Child
• Child Abuse and Neglect Conference Abuse and Neglect, “Faces of
– Prevention, Assessment, and Change: Embracing Diverse Cultures
Treatment – 9th Annual Michigan and Alternative Approaches,” –
Statewide Conference, Ypsilanti American Professional Society on the
Abuse of Children, Albuquerque, New
• Adoption and Safe Families Act –
Kent County Probate Court, Grand
Rapids • FIA Child Welfare Institute Training
Sessions: Mental Health, Juvenile
Sex Offenders, Adoption, CPS
Administrative Hearings Preparation,
Solution Focused Interviewing,
Children’s Protective Services,
Domestic Violence, Adoption Legal,
Foster Care, Health/Medical, CPS/FC
Legal Issues, Strengths Approach,
Substance Abuse, Youth Gangs
• New Foster Home Rules; Certication
Training – Child Foster Home
Licensing, Bureau of Regulatory
Services Training, Lansing

Appendix F PA 204 of 1994

Act No. 204
Public Acts of 1994
Approved by the Governor
June 20, 1994
Filed with the Secretary of State
June 21, 1994


Introduced by Senators Welborn, Dingell, Geake, Cisky, Dillingham, Gougeon, McManus, Wartner, Bouchard,
DeGrow, Pridnia, Honigman, Gast, Hoffman, Arthurhultz, and Hart


AN ACT to create a Children’s Ombudsman; to prescribe the powers and duties of the Children’s Ombudsman, certain
state departments and officers, and certain county and private agencies serving children; and to provide remedies from
certain administrative acts.

The People of the State of Michigan enact:

Sec. 1. This act shall be known and may be cited as “the Children’s Ombudsman act.”

Sec. 2. As used in this act:
(a) “Administrative act” includes an action, omission, decision, recommendation, practice, or other procedure of
the department of social services, an adoption attorney, or a child placing agency with respect to a particular child related
to adoption, foster care, or protective services.
(b) “Adoption attorney” means that term as defined in section 22 of the adoption code, being section 710.22 of
the Michigan Compiled Laws.
(c) “Adoption code” means chapter X of Act No. 288 of the Public Acts of 1939, being sections 710.21 to 710.70
of the Michigan Compiled Laws.
(d) “Child placing agency” means an organization licensed or approved by the department of social services under
Act No. 116 of the Public Acts of 1973, being sections 722.111 to 722.128 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, to receive
children for placement in private family homes for foster care or adoption and to provide services related to adoption.
(e) “Child” means an individual under the age of 18.
(f) “Complainant” means an individual who makes a complaint as provided in section 5.
(g) “Department” means the department of social services.
(h) “Foster parent” means an individual licensed by the department of social services under Act No. 116 of the
Public Acts of 1973 to provide foster care to children.
(i) “Official” means an official or employee of the department or a child placing agency.
(j) “Ombudsman” means the children’s Ombudsman created in section 3.

Sec. 3. (1) As a means of monitoring and ensuring compliance with relevant (d) Hold informal hearings and request that individuals appear before the
statutes, rules, and policies pertaining to children’s protective services and the placement, Ombudsman and give testimony or produce documentary or other evidence that the
supervision, and treatment of children in foster care and adoptive homes, the children’s Ombudsman considers relevant to a matter under investigation.
Ombudsman is created as an autonomous entity in the department of management and (e) Make recommendations to the Governor and the legislature concerning the
budget. The Ombudsman shall exercise its powers and duties, including the functions of need for protective services, adoption, or foster care legislation.
budgeting and procurement and other management-related functions, independently of the
director of the department of management and budget. Sec. 7. (1) Upon rendering a decision to investigate a complaint from a
(2) The Ombudsman shall be appointed by the Governor and shall serve at the complainant, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant of the decision to investigate
pleasure of the Governor. and shall notify the department, adoption attorney, or child placing agency of the intention
to investigate. If the Ombudsman declines to investigate a complaint or continue an
Sec. 4. (1) The Ombudsman shall establish procedures for budgeting, expending investigation, the Ombudsman shall notify the complainant and the department, adoption
funds, and employing personnel. Subject to annual appropriations, the Ombudsman shall attorney, or child placing agency of the decision and of the reasons for the Ombudsman’s
employ sufficient personnel to carry out the duties and powers prescribed by this act. action.
(2) The Ombudsman shall establish procedures for receiving and processing (2) If the preliminary investigation described in section 6 leads the Ombudsman
complaints from complainants, conducting investigations, holding hearings, and reporting to believe that the matter may involve misconduct by an adoption attorney, the Ombudsman
findings resulting from investigations. shall immediately refer the complaint to the attorney grievance commission of the state
bar of Michigan.
Sec. 5. All of the following individuals may make a complaint to the Ombudsman (3) The Ombudsman may advise a complainant to pursue all administrative
with respect to a particular child, alleging that an administrative act is contrary to law, remedies or channels of complaint open to the complainant before pursuing a complaint
rule, or policy, imposed without an adequate statement of reason, or based on irrelevant, with the Ombudsman. Subsequent to the administrative processing of a complaint, the
immaterial, or erroneous grounds: Ombudsman may conduct further investigations of any complaint upon the request of the
(a) The child, if he or she is able to articulate a complaint. complainant or upon the Ombudsman’s own initiative.
(b) A biological parent of the child. (4) If the Ombudsman finds in the course of an investigation that an individual’s
(c) A foster parent of the child. action is in violation of state or federal criminal law, the Ombudsman shall immediately
(d) An adoptive parent or a prospective adoptive parent of the child. report that fact to the county prosecutor or the attorney general. If the complaint is against
(e) A legally appointed guardian of the child. a child placing agency, the Ombudsman shall refer the matter to the department of social
(f) A guardian ad litem of the child. services for further action with respect to licensing.
(g) An adult who is related to the child within the fifth degree by marriage, blood, (5) The Ombudsman may file a petition on behalf of a child requesting the court
or adoption, as defined in section 22 of the adoption code, being section 710.22 of the to take jurisdiction under section 2(b) of chapter XIIA of Act No. 288 of the Public Acts of
Michigan Compiled Laws. 1939, being section 712A.2 of the Michigan Compiled Laws, or a petition for termination
(h) A Michigan Legislator. of parental rights under section 19b of chapter XIIA of Act No. 288 of the Public Acts
(i) An attorney for any individual described in subparagraphs (a) to (g). of 1939, being section 712A.19b of the Michigan Compiled Laws, if the Ombudsman is
satisfied that the complainant has contacted the department, the prosecuting attorney, the
Sec. 6. The Ombudsman may do all of the following: child’s attorney, and the child’s guardian ad litem, if any, and that none of these persons
(a) Upon its own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint from a complainant, intend to file a petition as described in this subsection.
investigate an administrative act that is alleged to be contrary to law or rule, or contrary to
policy of the department or a child placing agency, imposed without an adequate statement Sec. 8 (1) The department and a child placing agency shall do all of the following:
of reason, or based on irrelevant, immaterial, or erroneous grounds. (a) Upon the Ombudsman’s request, grant the Ombudsman or its designee access
(b) Decide, in its discretion, whether to investigate a complaint. to all relevant information, records, and documents in the possession of the department or
(c) Upon its own initiative or upon receipt of a complaint from a complainant, child placing agency that the Ombudsman considers necessary in an investigation.
conduct a preliminary investigation to determine whether an adoption attorney may have (b) Assist the Ombudsman to obtain the necessary releases of those documents
committed an administrative act that is alleged to be contrary to law, rule, or the Michigan that are specifically restricted.
rules of professional conduct adopted by the Michigan supreme court. (c) Provide the Ombudsman upon request with progress reports concerning the
administrative processing of a complaint.

(2) The department, an adoption attorney, and a child placing agency shall Sec. 12. The authority granted the Ombudsman under this act is in addition to
provide information to a biological parent, prospective adoptive parent, or foster parent the authority granted under the provisions of any other act or rule under which the remedy
regarding the provisions of this act. or right of appeal or objection is provided for a person, or any procedure provided for
the inquiry into or investigation of any matter. The authority granted the Ombudsman
Sec. 9. The Ombudsman shall treat all matters under investigation, including the does not limit or affect the remedy or right of appeal or objection and is not an exclusive
identities of recipients or individuals from whom information is acquired, as confidential, remedy or procedure.
except so far as disclosures may be necessary to enable the Ombudsman to perform the
duties of the office and to support any recommendations resulting from an investigation. Sec. 13. The Ombudsman shall maintain a registry of adoption attorneys who
A record of the office of the Ombudsman is confidential, shall be used only for purposes provide services described in the adoption code. The Ombudsman shall remove an
set forth in this act, and is not subject to court subpoena. A record of the office of the adoption attorney from the registry under any of the following circumstances:
Ombudsman is exempt from disclosure under the freedom of information act, Act No. 442 (a) The attorney requests that his or her name be removed from the registry.
of the Public Acts of 1976, being sections 15.231 to 15.246 of the Michigan Compiled (b) The attorney fails to register as provided in section 5 of the foster care and
Laws. adoption services act.
(c) The Ombudsman receives notice that the attorney’s license to practice law
Sec. 10. (1) The Ombudsman shall prepare a report of the findings of an is suspended or revoked.
investigation and make recommendations to the department or child placing agency if the
Ombudsman finds 1 or more of the following: Sec. 14. This act shall take effect January 1, 1995.
(a) A matter should be further considered by the department or child placing
agency. Sec. 15. This act shall not take effect unless all of the following bills of the 87th
(b) An administrative act should be modified or canceled. Legislature are enacted into law:
(c) Reasons should be given for an administrative act. (a) Senate Bill No. 299.
(d) Other action should be taken by the department or child placing agency. (b) Senate Bill No. 721.
(2) Before announcing a conclusion or recommendation that expressly or by (c) Senate Bill No. 722.
implication criticizes an individual, the department, or a child placing agency, the (d) Senate Bill No. 724.
Ombudsman shall consult with that individual, the department, or the child placing agency. (e) Senate Bill No. 725.
When publishing an opinion adverse to the department or child placing agency, the (f) House Bill No. 4201.
Ombudsman shall include in the publication any statement of reasonable length made to (g) House Bill No. 4428.
the Ombudsman by the department or child placing agency in defense or mitigation of (h) House Bill No. 4614.
the action. The Ombudsman may request to be notified by the department or child placing (i) House Bill No. 4638.
agency, within a specified time, of any action taken on any recommendation presented.
(3) The Ombudsman shall notify the complainant of the actions taken by the This act is ordered to take immediate effect.
Ombudsman and by the department or child placing agency.
(4) The Ombudsman shall provide the complainant with a copy of its
recommendations on a complaint.
(5) The Ombudsman shall submit to the governor, the director of the department,
and the legislature an annual report on the conduct of the Ombudsman, including any
recommendations regarding the need for legislation or for change in rules or policies.

Sec. 11. (1) An official, the department, or a child placing agency shall not
penalize any person for filing a complaint or cooperating with the Ombudsman in
investigating a complaint.
(2) An individual, the department, an adoption attorney, or a child placing
agency shall not hinder the lawful actions of the Ombudsman or employees of the

Ofce of Children’s Ombudsman

Mailing Address
P.O. Box 30026
Lansing, MI 48909

(517) 373-3077

Toll Free
(800) 642-4326

(517) 335-4471


Web site:

Michigan Relay Center (800) 649-3777