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Checks and balances database in Michigan child welfare

Michigan has introduced a series of House Bills to address the lack of accountability and transparency in child welfare.

House Bill 5702; (Revise child death reports and procedures )
Introduced by Rep. Jennifer Haase (D) on December 16, 2009, to authorize the establishment of a legislative child fatality investigator appointed by the legislative council, who would identify specific causes and systemic problems that contribute to the mortality of children in foster care.

House Bill 5703 (Revise child death reports and procedures )
Introduced by Rep. Dian Slavens (D) on December 16, 2009, to require the state to establish a central database with statistical information on the number of children who died while in foster care, while under court jurisdiction for child abuse or neglect, or after having involvement with child protective service. See Senate Bill 258.

House Bill 5704 (Revise child death reports and procedures )
Introduced by Rep. Mary Valentine (D) on December 16, 2009, to revise procedures for releasing an annual report on child fatalities that a state multiagency, multidisciplinary advisory on child fatalities is supposed to prepare. The bill would also revise the membership of a state child fatalities advisory committee.

House Bill 5705 (Revise child death reports and procedures )
Introduced by Rep. Dan Scripps (D) on December 16, 2009, to require the Department of Human Services to give access to all information it has pertaining to a child who dies after becoming a ward of the state to a probate court that has jurisdiction over the child.

Once these databases are implemented, further oversight objectives may be initiated.  Some of the identified objectives will be to:

(1)Reduce fraud, waste and abuse in billing;
(2)Ameliorate unnecessary removals;
(3)Increase quality of care;
(4)Improve quality of services;
(5)Establish best practices;
(6)Create recipient rights for consumers (i.e. parents, grandparents, extended family members, children, other people of affinity, consanguinity);
(7)Empower the Attorney General to prosecute and recover Medicaid Fraud;
(8)Empower the Department of Human Services and Department of Community Health to institute contractual debarment, fines, license revocation, sanctions;
(9)Prevent racketeering;
(10)Reduce the State percentage of Medicaid to 30%;
(11)Dismantles the Michigan Children's Institute as decisions are computerized.

First, Section 7(b) must be revised to strike "may" and replace with SHALL. A basic review of county activities, particularly Wayne County, will demonstrate the lack of federal compliance, OMB Circular. So, if a county is not mandated to establish and maintain a database of child fatalities, then how is the state to meet the objectives of a statistical database as the data are and will be skewed, and even suspect.
Next,Section 5 must include (g) ONE COMMUNITY REPRESENTATIVE. The operations of the state's child welfare system are shielded behind the iron curtain of secrecy. There needs to be established in this advisory committee a system of checks and balances to steer policy; otherwise, the status quo will continue to admiral failed policies.
Finally, add Section 10 (G). The number and type of child abuse or neglect complaints against A CHILD PLACING AGENCY OR RESIDENTIAL INSTITUTION before the child's death and, if there was more than
1 child abuse or neglect complaint in the 2 years preceding the
child's death, the child protective services described in section 8d given to each investigated complaint.
Currently, there is very little opportunity to report child abuse and neglect within the confines of the foster care system. The Office of Children's Ombudsman "may entertain" which complaints will investigated and most of the investigative reports are limited to selective issues of investigation due to a lack of office resources or a failure of a party to comply with the investigation. The Bureau of Children and Adult Licensing have no enforcement authority and this is why: A licensed entity my operate under 2nd and 3rd provisional licensing without any recourse. Conversely, if an organization voluntarily stops its operations, it may reorganize under a different name, continuing it same aberrant operations, which include abuse and neglect.

Lastly, Counties Community Mental Health may be the only opportunity for children under the auspices of the state to self-report complaints of abuse and neglect. Unfortunately, these reports are either kept internally and never reported to the state, or, the reports are filed for refuse recycling.

These legislative initiatives are to bring the state in line with the Hague Intercountry Adoptions Treaty, the same that was done with licensing standards of social workers, but this is a window of opportunity, opened to include an integral part of transparency and accountability, and that is create a universal complaint registry for child welfare to include, not just child fatalities in foster care, but abuse and neglect in foster care, as well as fraud, waste and abuse.

For more background information on these bills...here.

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