Nov 6-20: News Articles Legislative Updates and Appellate Court Cases Relating to Child Abuse & Neglect


US: Mandated Reporting of Child Maltreatment: Developments

Fall 2012, APSAC Alert: Our own Frank E. Vandervort discusses the history of mandated reporting statutes and considers the variation in state reporting laws. Several changes have been enacted or proposed prompted mainly by the Penn State scandal and the author considers the value of these changes. Recent changes to the reporting laws will no doubt fuel the long-standing debate about the efficacy of such statutes, whether they are efficient uses of resources, and whether they invite unnecessary intrusion into the private realm of family life. APSAC Alert Fall_2012.pdf; APSAC_Alert_Fall_2012_Spanish.pdf

For example, see:

D.C.: Bill That Expands Child Sex Abuse Reporting Requirements Advances

Nov 15, Washington Post: Nearly all adults in the District would be held liable if they fail to report suspected child sex abuse under a bill tentatively approved Thursday by the D.C. Council. But the proposal is prompting some unease about government overreach that would set the stage for a surge in thinly vetted complaints, which could lead to false accusations. “I think we definitely want to achieve more reporting, but there is definitely some concerns around how [authorities] will handle the level of reports that they will get and potentially false allegations,” said council member Kenyan M. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), a former Prince George’s County assistant state’s attorney. “And does having lots of false allegations have the effect of making it more challenging to prove some of these cases?” Link to Article

CA: I-Team Investigates International Adoption Facilitator

Nov 20, KGO-TV: Families across the country have trusted a Santa Clara County man to help adopt Ukrainian children. But there are concerns that aren’t getting full story when it comes to the kids’ mental health. The family profiled in this story thought they were adopting healthy children from the Ukraine, a boy and a girl. They found out later the kids actually came from a mental institution and have serious problems. How could the adoption facilitator not have known? Link to Article

CO: Seeking Solutions to Improve Colorado’s Child Welfare System

Failed To Death – An Eight-Part Denver Post Investigative Series

Nov 20, Denver Post: About This Series:

Day 1: More than 40 percent of children who died of abuse and neglect in the last six years in Colorado were known to child protection workers.

Day 2: Caseworkers are the backbone of the system but often fail to follow state policies.

Day 3: Some children never get a chance for help because their cases were “screened out.”

Day 4: Too often child welfare workers and law enforcement fail to work together.

Day 5: Funding inequities have plagued Colorado s child welfare system.

Day 6: People who kill children serve much less prison time than those who kill adults.

Day 7: Abused children often suffer from a long-term psychological impact.

Day 8: There are answers to the problems that face Colorado s child welfare system but they require political will and often money. Link to Summary of Articles

PA: Health IT Startup Building System to Improve Access to Foster Children Health Records

Nov 19, MedCity News: One of the complexities of the foster child system is that children tend to move around. A lot. That can make it tricky to ensure their medical records are kept up to date and that foster parents have access to this information, along with the children themselves when they leave the system. A health IT startup is developing a variation of its cloud-based patient record system to make it easier to do both things. Link to Article

MI: Michigan Foster Care Kids May Qualify for Extended Benefits And a Better Chance at Success

Nov 19, Josie Brown had no place to call home after leaving the state’s foster care system at age 18. Brown found out about a new program allowing young adults who have aged out of foster care to continue receiving certain types of support until they turn 21 years old. “It has helped me grow, it has helped me realize I’m not alone,” Brown said of the Young Adult Voluntary Foster Care program — signed into law by Gov. Rick Snyder one year ago this week. “I feel like this program is going to help me become something that I never thought I would be able to, and be stronger.” The program formally launched in April. The Department of Human Services says 269 young adults are enrolled in the program, but there could be many more who are eligible. State officials are using the one-year anniversary of the law to raise awareness among potential participants – most of whom lose contact with the state as soon as they “age out” of traditional foster care at age 18. Link to Article

US/MI: National Safe Place Gets $10.5M Federal Grant for Training, Assistance

Nov 18, Courier The Louisville-based National Safe Place has received a $10.5 million grant over five years from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to provide training and technical assistance to more than 400 runaway and homeless youth agencies across the country. National Safe Place was competitively selected by the Family and Youth Services Bureau to receive $2.1 million a year and will coordinate the efforts of the Runaway and Homeless Youth Training and Technical Assistance Center for the next five years. Link to Article

Safe Places in Michigan

Child and Family Serv. Of SW Michigan
2450 M-139
Benton Harbor, MI 49023
Coordinator: Tanisha Craig
Click here to list all Safe Places for this agency >

Matrix Human Services-Off the Streets
680 Virginia Park
Detroit, MI 48202
Coordinator: Taneisha King
Click here to list all Safe Places for this agency >

Advocacy Group Urges Feds to Block DCFS Program Cuts

Aim is to stop reductions to intact family service program

Nov15, Chicago Tribune: An advocacy group filed a federal complaint Thursday against the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services to halt cuts to an intervention program that links struggling parents to support services. Lawyers for the Family Defense Center argue that the changes will lead to more children being removed from their homes in violation of a federal law that requires DCFS to exhaust all “reasonable efforts” to keep families together. No more info in Article

“Crossover Youth”: The Intersection of Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice

Nov 15, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange: The long-term consequences for crossover youth are significant with many suffering higher incidence of drug use and exacerbated mental illness. Crossover youth have a higher recidivism rate than non-crossover youth, and more than 30 percent have new maltreatment referrals following their arrest. These young people may not only commit offenses as adults, but may well perpetuate the cycle of maltreatment as parents.

What can be done? Fortunately, juvenile justice professionals are increasingly recognizing the unique situation of crossover youth and are developing system tools sensitive to the specifics of their problem. Law enforcement officials, judges, and child welfare practitioners are beginning to collaborate on how to best meet the needs of this unique population early enough to offset the substantial human and fiscal cost. In addition, reform-minded foundations and non-profits have initiated pilot technical assistance programs across the country, in the hopes of creating replicable best practices. The recent OJDDP webinar featured speakers advocating for multi-disciplinary teams to bridge the system-wide gap, an approach shared by others. For example, the Center for Juvenile Justice Reform, at Georgetown University, developed The Crossover Youth Practice Model, which is currently used at 11 jurisdictions across the country. A central feature of the model is to encourage multi-agency collaboration across the child welfare and juvenile justice systems. Such coordinated case management and supervision fosters family engagement and youth permanency. This directly addresses the instability that leads many young people from the child welfare system to the juvenile justice system. In California, the Sierra Health Foundation, through their Positive Youth Justice Initiative, has also taken a lead in fostering county-level innovation to address this issue. Link to Article

US/OR/CA: Behind The Story: An Information Gap in Child Abuse Cases

Nov 15, Investigate Reporters & Editors: There were signs of problems before 15-year-old Jeanette Maples died of starvation and abuse in Oregon in December 2009. There had been substantiated reports of abuse in California. When Oregon protective services workers tried to get that information, it was denied. Congress had mandated that states share information with one another in 2006, passing a law requiring the establishment of a national database of proven child abuse cases. But there was no deadline for the project or plan for its implementation. Link to Article

MI: Mother of Battered 3-Year-Old Boy also Charged with Child Abuse

Nov15, FLINT, MI – Prosecutors have charged the mother of a 3-year-old boy who remains hospitalized after he was allegedly beaten by her boyfriend. Wyatt’s boyfriend, Robert L. Martin III, was charged with child abuse Nov. 6 The boy has been hospitalized since Nov. 1 after his mother’s boyfriend allegedly beat him over a series of days. The boy was “covered head to toe in bruises,” court documents said on termination of his mother’s parental rights on accusations of neglect and failure to protect her child. Link to Article

MI: Self-Proclaimed ‘Pit Bull’ of Psychiatric Hospital Ordered to Stand Trial on Sexual Assault Charges

Nov 15, SAGINAW, MI — Despite reported attempts to convince psychiatrists that he is not mentally fit for trial, a Saginaw man will stand trial on charges that he sexually assaulted a 6-year-old boy. McRannolds was charged in April, but it took months for him to face preliminary hearings as personnel at the Center for Forensic Psychiatry in Ypsilanti and the Kalamazoo Psychiatric Hospital worked to ensure he was mentally fit for trial. The judge in July relied on a report from the Ypsilanti center to rule that McRannolds was not fit for trial. McRannolds then was transported to the Kalamazoo hospital. Psychiatrist Angela Jacobs filed a report stating that based on her observations and interviews of McRannolds that he was acting in an attempt to persuade personnel that he was incompetent. Jacobs wrote that she conducted a Wechsler Adult Intelligence Scales test, a “reliable measure of nonverbal, verbal, and general cognitive ability.” McRannolds, Jacobs wrote, was “putting forth very little effort during the administration of the test, and answering items in a deliberate/inaccurate manner.” “He is able to function at a much higher level than he would have others believe,” Jacobs wrote. “He is capable of higher-level functioning. He has the ability to reason and rationalize as well as manipulate. He is clearly very motivated to demonstrate that he is incompetent to stand trial, although the facts do not support it.” Link to Article

Proposed Law Would Block Sex Offenders’ Access to Kids

November 14, CBS Detroit: Should sex offenders have access to their own children? State Senator Hoon-Yung Hopgood of Taylor is pushing a bill that would block such access unless proof is offered that the child would not be at risk. The Downriver Democrat would like to see the public get involved in the push to get this new child protection law on the books. Link to Article

MI: Juveniles Serving Mandatory Life for Murder Won’t Be Freed, Michigan Appeals Court Rules

November 17, Detroit Free Press: The Michigan appeals court has ruled that a landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision that ends mandatory life-without-parole sentences for juveniles convicted of murder will not apply retroactively to teens already found guilty who have exhausted their direct appeals. The decision, released Friday by a three-judge panel, came nearly a month after it heard oral arguments on whether the U.S. Supreme Court decision should apply retroactively to Michigan prisoners. It was in response to an appeal filed on behalf of Raymond Carp, a St. Clair County man serving life in prison without parole in the murder of Maryann McNeely, 43, when he was a juvenile. Link to Article

See somewhat related story:

MI: Juvenile Lifers: Michigan Lawmakers Quietly Propose New Sentencing Hearings, Possibility of Parole

Nov 14, The U.S. Supreme Court in June ruled that sentencing minors to life in prison without the possibility of parole is an unconstitutional form of cruel and unusual punishment, prompting calls for legislative action in Michigan and other states with mandatory sentencing guidelines that apply to juvenile offenders. House Bills 6013-6019 were introduced during the opening days of the state Legislature’s lame-duck session. Michigan is home to more than 350 inmates serving mandatory life sentences without parole for serious crimes they committed as minors. Link to Article

WI: Actors Embrace Atypical Gig to Help Child Welfare Caseworkers

Nov 14, An angry “client,” 25-year-old, redheaded Wilma, storms into the room and slams the door. “Let’s get this shit out of the way,” Wilma says angrily to Gray, her “social worker,” by way of introduction. Wilma’s enraged, on the hook for behavior that could lead to the state separating her from her children. Gray smiles at her. “Do you mind if I sit here?” she asks Wilma quietly, eyeing a chair in the sparse room. “Do what you want. It’s a free country,” Wilma snaps as she plunks in a nearby chair and folds her arms across her lap. Gray, who has earned her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work, is in what amounts to an apprenticeship to be a Milwaukee child welfare caseworker. “Wilma” is a Milwaukeean with a theater background, whose real name is Jessie Moffat (’03 Anthropology). The two women represent an unusual and successful partnership in which social work educators enlist the help of local actors to boost the skill level of new child welfare caseworkers. The caseworkers are clear: They are here to learn and welcome criticism, no matter how difficult it is to hear. While medical colleges have long used actors to help students hone clinical skills, Wisconsin social work educators have only started to do the same in earnest in the past few years. Gray, recently hired by the Bureau of Milwaukee Child Welfare, is one of about 100 new child welfare caseworkers annually who receive job training from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Helen Bader School of Social Welfare. The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families requires that all new caseworkers throughout the state complete job-specific training within 18 months of being hired. The school’s Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership for Professional Development (MCWPPD) provides the training, and has worked since 2008 with In Tandem Theatre to supply actors to play the roles of traumatized adults on the brink of losing their children. Link to Article

TN: Advocates Call for Justice for Drug Dependent Babies

Nov 13, WVLT-TV: Lawmakers and medical experts agree drug dependent babies have become an epidemic. But in Tennessee, the law doesn’t classify the condition as child abuse or neglect. Advocates say it should. Link to Article

US: Congress: Save Adoption Tax Credit

Nov 13, Washington Times: Congress will take up the issue of taxes at the end of this year. If the adoption tax credit is not among the list of credits to be extended, it will no longer be a help to the majority of families who adopt. If the credit is extended, but is not made refundable, this will leave out a large percentage of families who adopt from foster care. Link to Article

MI: 8-Year-Old Boy Testifies His Mother Hit His Infant Brother with a Bat; Boy’s Statements, However, Are Inconsistent

Nov 13, JACKSON, MI – Amber Murphy struck her 9-month-old son with a bat, Murphy’s 8-year-old son said Tuesday. “My mom hit him like crap,” the boy testified. The child, however, went on to say he did not see his mother hitting his baby brother, Seth Murphy, shortly before the infant’s August 2009 death. His father, who was not there when Seth was hurt, told him this is what occurred, he said in a soft voice barely audible to people sitting in courtroom pews. He was testifying before Jackson County District Judge Daniel Goostrey for a preliminary examination. Goostrey listened to his and others’ statements and found there was probable cause to believe Murphy committed open murder. He sent her case to Circuit Court. The 8-year-old’s testimony was confusing and inconsistent. Portions of it were untrue. Link to Article

MS: Analysis: Legislators Aim to Prevent Child Abuse

Nov 12, JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — “Erin’s Law” is described as a tool to keep sexual predators away from children. Four states — Maine, Indiana, Illinois and Missouri — have enacted it and a dozen more may consider it in 2013. The law would require schools to create lessons to help children understand and talk about sexual abuse. Supporters say teachers and administrators may be best positioned to identify children who are abused at home.

Miles says he and Collins support a program that educates children “to know when they are being messed with and that they can go to an authority figure and not be scared to report it.” “It’s also a deterrent to sexual predators who will now know that they will be reported to authorities,” Miles said. Link to Article Comment by C. Enright: Not sure why a statute is required. We had a disclosure by a child recently in Muskegon County by an alleged victim when a lesson on abuse was presented to grade school students.

MI: ‘Bad Parent List’ a Rights Violation? People Stay on Abuse/Neglect Registry for Life

Nov 12, WOOD TV: A little-known list can cause big problems for parents across Michigan. If you land on it, it could cost you your job, your reputation and your ability to parent your kids. It’s called the Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry, and the State of Michigan can put you on it for life without a judge’s ruling. Family law attorney Elizabeth Warner represents four parents in Kent, Calhoun and Jackson counties who are all part of a federal suit against the State of Michigan. Warner said the list violates constitutional rights because people are put on it without having a day in court. She calls the registry a “blacklist” of people unfairly labeled as child abusers. “It’s the most massive civil rights violation in Michigan,” Warner said. “It affects hundreds of thousands of people, and if you take that out, it affects their families for all generations because once you’re on the registry, you’re on for life.” Department of Human Services officials defend the registry as a useful tool available to businesses, schools and daycare centers to screen job applicants. “It allows us to do that background check to ensure that Michigan’s children are not put under the care and supervision of individuals who have a substantiated history of abuse and neglect,” said Steve Yager of DHS. The agency says at any time up to 300,000 people are on the registry. Unlike the Michigan Sex Offender Registry, the Central Registry is not open to the public. Critics say the Central Registry is too subjective, and that it’s easy to get on but almost impossible to get off. Yager said he doesn’t think that’s accurate. “I would refer to the investigation process,” said Yager. “It is not a process we take lightly. We take it very seriously.” DHS says in each case, its investigators base their findings on evidence and a risk assessment. Link to Article

US: Shaken-Baby Syndrome: US Resists Conviction Reform, Unlike England

Nov 8, Plain Error: Student fellows working under Prof. Alec Klein with The Medill Innocence Project at Northwestern University are assessing why the United States criminal justice system’s treatment of shaken-baby syndrome (SBS) cases has a dangerous potential of leading to wrongful convictions. This is the first of a three-part series discussing Shaken-Baby Syndrome. Link to Article

MI: Ypsilanti Resident Found Guilty of Forced Labor Charges in Human Trafficking Case

Nov 6, Ypsilanti Courier: An Ypsilanti man has been found guilty on charges of forced labor for bringing four minors to Michigan from Africa and using force to have them perform domestic labor. Evidence presented during the trial showed the defendant used force and threats of force to obtain domestic labor from the four minors between January 2006 and January 2011, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. “This conviction and the liberation of these victims occurred because of the diligence of school teachers, advocates, investigators and prosecutors.” The defendant brought the minors to the United States by giving them passports with false names and dates of births, according to the press release. He represented them as his biological children on immigration papers. Link to Article

MI: Unusual Muskegon County Child Abuse Charge Sends Alleged Alabama Molester To Jail

Nov 1, MUSKEGON, MI – Swift work by the Muskegon County Sheriff’s Office and an unusual charging decision by the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office led to the recent arrest of an Alabama man accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a girl in that state. To get six children, including the now 16-year-old alleged victim, out of Grdjan’s household and get him into jail, the Muskegon County Prosecutor’s Office charged him with two non-sexual crimes. In the words of the Muskegon County arrest warrant, the alleged second-degree child abuse was committed “by forcing the victim to continue to reside with the defendant who had sexually assaulted her repeatedly,” thereby allegedly causing her emotional harm. The delinquency count alleged child neglect, for a similar reason. Link to Article


Committee Meeting

Committee     Families, Children, and Seniors

Location          Room 327 House Office Building, Lansing, MI

Date                Tuesday, 11/27/2012

Time                10:30 AM


SB 246 Juveniles; criminal procedure; revise juvenile competency standards;.
HB 4555 Juveniles; criminal procedure; clarify juvenile competency and culpability;.
HB 5641 Children; protection; central registry records; require certain notifications to recipients regarding expungement and limit maintenance of records to 10 years.
HB 5763 Children; adoption; allow objection to placements by child placing agency based on religious or moral convictions
HB 5764 Children; adoption; allow licensure of child placing agency that objects to placements on religious or moral grounds.

Senate Bill 0694 (2011) Tie Barred to Senate Bill 1303 (2012)

Both passed by the Senate and pending before the House Judiciary Committee

Senate Bill 694 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to revise a provision granting the family court jurisdiction over a juvenile whose home or environment is an unfit place for the juvenile to live in, to do the following:

— Refer to a home or environment that “is or will be” unfit.

— Define criminality, and include violations that do not result in a conviction.

— Add abuse and substance abuse to the factors that make a home unfit.

— Require the court to consider allegations against an absent parent.

— Provide that, in a consideration of whether offenses against children rendered the home unfit, it would not matter if the child victim was related to the parent, guardian, nonparent adult, or other custodian.

Senate Bill 1303 (S-1) would amend the juvenile code to provide that the Department of Human Services would be permitted, but not required, to provide services to reunify a child with his or her parent, and the court could order the DHS to provide those services, in situations involving a parent who “is or will be imprisoned for 2 or more years”.

Senate Bill 1000 (2012) would prohibit parenting time in a country not a party to the Hague convention on the civil aspects of international child abduction. Passed by Senate and referred to House committee on the Judiciary.


ICWA: Court: Michigan Court of Appeals (Unpublished)

Case Name: In re ENM

Delta circuit terminated parental rights of parents on or about June 14, 2011. Terminated mother enrolled in the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe on August 2, 2011. The Nottawaseppi Huron Band of Potawatomi Indians motioned to intervene when a non-Indian petitioned to adopt. They claimed ICWA applies because the child is now eligible although enrollment in their tribe was closed during an audit. They claimed an Indian relative was available to adopt the child. Trial court ruled the tribe could not intervene in the termination or in the adoption. The NHBPI appealed.  COA followed the trial court’s reasoning under Nielson v Ketchum, 640 F3d 1117 (CA 10, 2011) which held a tribe cannot expand the reach of a federal statute by a tribal provision that extends automatic citizenship to the child of a non-member of the tribe. COA affirmed the trial court. Thanks to John Forczak for this summary. Full Text Opinion 


If you have items that you think would be helpful to include in this occasional post, please forward them to me at the email in my signature block.
These stories were chosen because of their perceived relevance to the child welfare community.  MiPSAC is not responsible for the views expressed in any of these articles, nor does it take a position for or against the positions expressed in the articles.  They are presented merely to provide a sampling of what the media is saying about child welfare.

Charlie Enright, JD, MSW
4907 Foster Rd.
Midland, MI  48642
(989) 600-9696
[email protected]
Michigan Professional Society on Abuse of Children, MiPSAC
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