Special Efforts Being Made in Michigan to Eliminate Child Abuse and Neglect Fatalities

Birth Match is a statewide system that requires CPS investigations to be assigned any time a new child is born to a parent who has lost past parental rights. Birth Match is developed by sharing information from state birthing hospitals to MDHHS. That information is “cross-matched” daily, and when a match is identified, a complaint is assigned. In the past three years, the Department has provided Safety by Design trainings to provide frontline staff with guidance for how to better assess child safety and how to develop effective safety plans with families.  [Recommendation 7.2g]

In 2016, MDHHS released a comprehensive infant mortality reduction plan for 2016-2019. One plan goal is to increase the number of infants who are born healthy and continue to thrive by supporting safe and supportive family and community environments and providing access to services that ensure optimal health and well-being. This includes identifying child abuse and neglect risk and referring families to services. Additional goals include reducing sleep-related infant deaths and disparities and expanding access to home visiting programs for high-need populations.   [Recommendation 7.1]

In 2016, Michigan enacted SB 503 to require active efforts to provide remedial services and programs to prevent the breakup of American Indian families and to reunify American Indian children with their families. Active efforts include and extend beyond “reasonable efforts” required by title IV-E. This includes a requirement to provide culturally appropriate services, defined as “services that enhance an Indian child’s and family’s relationship to, identification, and connection with the Indian child’s tribe. Culturally appropriate services should provide the opportunity to practice the teachings, beliefs, customs, and ceremonies of the Indian child’s tribe so those may be incorporated into the Indian child’s daily life, as well as services that address the issues that have brought the Indian child and family to the attention of the department that are consistent with the tribe’s beliefs about child rearing, child development, and family wellness. If the American Indian child’s tribe establishes a different definition of culturally appropriate services, the court shall follow the tribe’s definition.” [Recommendation 7.3b]

When researchers determined that racism had been institutionalized in the child welfare system, the Michigan Race Equity Coalition was established with state and local leadership teams. The coalition disseminated a report and provided cultural competence training for child welfare workers and law enforcement personnel.  [Recommendations 4.2, 4.2f]

In May 2017, Sen. Rick Jones introduced Senate Bill 397 which would define a “Plan of Safe Care” as a plan developed by MDHHS, a medical professional, or another provider that addresses the health and safety needs of a newborn infant affected by substance abuse. The plan would also address the substance use disorder treatment needs of the mother and the service needs of other caregivers or family members. At the same time, Sen. Margaret O'Brien introduced Senate Bill 398 which would require that a newborn infant identified as being affected by substance use disorder, withdrawal symptoms or fetal alcohol disorder will have a Plan of Safe Care developed for them.  The bills have been referred to the Senate Families, Seniors, and Human Services Committee for consideration.  [Recommendations 5.3, 7.2f, 2.1e]

Local effort in Macomb County: The County's 2017 budget proposes starting a Nurse-Family Partnership program to provide home visiting services to help first-time mothers have healthy pregnancies and provide care for their babies. [Recommendation 7.1]