Do children need to be protected from Child Protective Services?
It is a legitimate question after you look at the findings of a report just released by the Office of the Auditor General.
It shows opportunity after opportunity for children to fall through the cracks and be put in danger.
“It is almost like a complete overhaul is needed of DHHS,” said attorney Cliff Woodards after reading the audit’s findings.
Woodards has worked as a defense attorney in cases involving CPS. Although he has seen issues in court, he says the scope of the problems as described in this audit are shocking. He worries children are at risk.
For example, the audit found most of the time when children are placed with another relative after being removed from their home CPS did not do proper background checks.
“We want to make sure they go to a safe environment when they are taken out of a home in danger,” said Woodards.
Other problems include not referring investigations to prosecutors and failing to interview child victims in a timely manner about what allegedly happened.
“They need to make sure the children are interviewed. If those children are not talked to in an appropriate time frame, for attorneys like me, defense attorneys, that is a dream for us. We can make sure those cases are dismissed,” said Woodards.
7 Action News reached out to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. It says it doesn’t agree with the entire report - but is doing what it can to serve children better- saying quote:
MDHHS takes the findings of this audit very seriously. While the department does not agree with all findings, MDHHS agrees that Children’s Protective Services can and must improve. The department shares the concern that the Office of Auditor General has for protecting Michigan children from abuse and neglect. This is a top priority.
The department has learned from this audit, has already taken actions to make improvements for the good of children and families, and will continue to make improvements. The corrective actions that we already have implemented and will continue to implement are indicative of MDHHS taking the findings very seriously and understanding the need to make improvements.