Sunday, April 10, 2011

How does Michigan define child abuse and neglect?

How does Michigan define child abuse and neglect?

The following definitions of child abuse and neglect are based on Michigan's Child Protection Law and are in the Child Protective Services Policy manual.

Definitions of Child Abuse and Neglect

Physical abuse

Physical abuse is a non-accidental injury to a child by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare. Physical abuse may include, but is not limited to, burning, beating, kicking, and punching. It is usually the easiest abuse to identify because of the physical evidence of bruises, burns, broken bones or other unexplained injuries. Internal injuries may not be readily apparent.

Sexual Abuse

Sexual abuse encompasses several different types of inappropriate sexual behavior:

  • Sexual contact meaning any intentional touching that can be reasonably construed as being for the purposes of sexual arousal, gratification, or any other improper purpose.
  • Sexual penetration.
  • Accosting, soliciting, or enticing a child to commit, or attempt to commit, an act of sexual contact or penetration, including prostitution.


Maltreatment is defined as the treatment of a child that involves cruelty or suffering that a reasonable person would recognize as excessive. Possible examples of maltreatment are:

  • A parent, who knowing that their child has a phobia or deep fear of closed places, utilizes locking the child in a closet as a means of punishment.
  • A parent who forces their child to eat dog food out of a dog bowl during dinner as a method of punishment and/or humiliation.
  • A parent who is found to be teaching their child how to be an accessory in their criminal activities, e.g., shop-lifting.
  • A parent who responds to their child's bed-wetting by subjecting them to public humiliation, such as hanging a sign on the child at school, which lets others know that the child has wet his or her bed.

Mental Injury

A psychological condition (diagnosed by a mental health practitioner) caused by physical or verbal acts, omissions, (including the denial of appropriate treatment), or maintaining an environment by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare which: renders the child chronically anxious, agitated, depressed, socially withdrawn, psychotic, or unreasonable fear that his or her life and/or safety or that of another family member is threatened, or chronically interferes with the child's ability to accomplish age appropriate milestones.


Child neglect encompasses several areas:

  • Neglect - harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by the person responsible for the child's health and welfare through failure to provide the child with food, clothing, or shelter necessary to sustain the life or health of the child, excluding those situations solely attributable to poverty.
  • Failure to Protect - knowingly allowing another person to mistreat or abuse the child without taking appropriate measures to stop such mistreatment or abuse and prevent it from recurring when the person is able to do so and has, or should have had, knowledge of the mistreatment.
    Improper Supervision - placing the child in or failing to remove the child from a situation that a reasonable person would realize requires judgment or actions beyond the child's level of maturity, physical condition, or mental abilities and results in bodily injury or a substantial risk of immediate harm to the child.
  • Abandonment - The person responsible for the child's health and welfare leaves a child with an agency, person, or other entity (DHS, hospital, mental health facility, etc.) unable or unwilling to assume responsibility for the child.
  • Medical Neglect - The failure to seek, obtain, or follow through with medical care for the child, with the failure resulting in or presenting substantial risk of death, disfigurement or bodily harm or with the failure resulting in an observable and material impairment to the growth, development, or functioning of the child.

In 2002, Washtenaw Circuit Court Chief Judge Archie Brown abruptly stopped the court’s practice of routinely allowing unmarried couples to marry, overruling the practice that had been established by Judges Nancy Francis and Donald Shelton. Washtenaw was the only one of 83 counties in the state to permit such adoptions, which impacted the LGBT community. Brown’s actions made the New York Times and earned him the enduring enmity of the LGBT community, who vowed to opppose him in any re-election bid. This never materialized and Brown proved that the LGBT community could be figuratively kicked in the teeth by an elected officeholder and survive.

Brown’s decision was influenced by then-Chief Justice Maura Corrigan of the Michigan Supreme Court. Brown’s actions angered Francis and Shelton and created a rift in the circuit court judiciary in an ideological sense. Brown’s actions were widely viewed as a GOP power play that beat the LGBT community on its home turf and put Brown on a fast track within the state GOP.

Second-parent adoption was started in by Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Francis in 1995.

Between The Lines: August 7, 2002

CARE cares about lgbt family rights

By Kelly Peters

ANN ARBOR - After Washtenaw County Judge Archie Brown's decision in early June to halt all second-parent adoptions, a group of parents joined together and decided to take action.

Beginning as an off-shoot of the Lesbian Mom's Network, the Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality is in the process of becoming incorporated and, according to one team member, hopefully becoming a 501 (C)(3) in the future.

"We are amazed at the overwhelming support and energy this issue has generated," said Bev Davidson, CARE team leader. "Our goal is to establish our identity and educate the community on second-parent adoption. It's about our kids."

According to Davidson, in less than two months, CARE has established contacts in Kalamazoo, Flint and Lansing. The group receives help from a professional facilitator and has also set its goals and objectives for both the long term and short term.

The goals of CARE are: to educate the public that second parent adoption is in the best interest of children, to impact the electoral process, to support legal advisors as they advocate for families involved in second parent adoption litigation, to build coalitions and CARE affiliates across Michigan and fundraise in support of these objectives.

"There has to be legislative change. We want to build coalitions across the state so we can stop negative legislation," said Davidson. "This is going to be long and very political."

Before the regular meeting, Jay Kaplan, staff attorney from the American Civil Liberties Union, sat down with the petitioners filing motions against Judge Brown for this decision to halt the process.

" I talked with the pending nine petitioners about the case reassignment Brown delegated to himself from Judge Shelton," said Kaplan. "In the reassignment, Brown is supposed to give a reason for the reassignment and he didn't and also spread the cases at random to different judges, which he also didn't do."

ACLU filed two motions: One stating Brown had no authority for reassignment and the cases should be sent back to Washtenaw County Circuit Judge Donald Shelton's court and one asking Brown to disqualify himself based on his bias of this issue.

Both motions were denied on June 24, but Brown did refer the motions to a State administrative office, which will reassign the motions to another judge for review.

The motion of disqualification will be heard by a Wayne County Circuit Court judge, said Kaplan.

He said the judge can decide immediately based on the legal brief or the case will continue onto a hearing on Aug. 8.

"The law doesn't say anywhere that an unmarried couple can't adopt, it's how it's interpreted," said Kaplan. "Other states have the same wording as Michigan's law and second-parent adoption is allowed."

At least six other states and the District of Columbia have statutes or appellate court decisions upholding a gay couple's right to second parent adoption.

"We have to educate the public on second parent adoption and I applaud and encourage your efforts," said Kaplan.

Besides updates on the legal standing of the adoption issue, many team leaders stressed the importance of volunteer work.

Sascha Matish, political team chair, made a call out for volunteers to go door-to-door to candidates' offices and educate them on the issue.

"We may be young, but we're a force to be reckon with," said Matish at the meeting.

Nancy Costello, media and community team leader, laid out the five-step plan of action in bringing this issue out into the open.

The five ways are: Through the media, train people in public speaking and lobbying state legislatures to travel around the state, build CARE affiliates around the state, form allies and build a "rapid response team" to react to negative legislation, and, cited as a long term goal, through monetary endorsements or letters of endorsements from candidates referring to CARE as a viable resource on this issue.

The fundraising team of Judith Bloch and Sarai: Koster-Mockeridge asked all those who attended the meeting to pick up a fundraising packet and raise $500.

Bloch said the goal is for CARE to reach $10,000 so CARE can expand and be allowed to write grants for endorsements.

Second-parent adoption was started in by Washtenaw County Circuit Court Judge Nancy Francis in 1995. Judge Donald Shelton continued the process in 2001 and 2002.

This legal process allowed a person who is already functioning as the child's parent to take on the legal responsibilities and rights of parenthood.

The process starts when a couple works through a licensed adoption agency. The parents need to pass a physical exam and friends need to write reference letters The couple then needs to fill out paperwork and have a series of interviews which culminate in a home study (a visit from a social worker who assesses the couple's parenting and the home environment). Once this process is through, the adoption agent files a court petition for the couple to adopt jointly. The parent with existing parental rights had to first terminate those rights and then continue through the process of second parent adoption.

For more information on lgbt family issues contact the following:

Coalition for Adoption Rights Equality

6750 Park Road, Ste. 102

Ann Arbor, MI 48103-9513

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

It is time to take a stand.

It is sad when one cast their vote hoping for a positive change in leadership but instead you get lost wave of hidden agendas. We all have to contribute into cutting back according Governor Snyder and his side kick, then what about the individuals who are already retired after two terms in office? What type of retirement package did they receive including health care coverage? Someone might want to look into this..

It is amazing how many agencies will lie to protect their neglect, instead of, protecting children. Odd as it may seem our new administrators are allowing the corruption within D.H.S. to continue. But some of our new administration would rather address issues about their child's coat being taken at school. How many other children are going to suffer?
What about some D.H.S. workers stealing a child's future while destroying a good parent? If the lies continue, then the corruption continues as well. Why does the new Director of D.H.S. make promises and then breaks them but says someone misunderstood her? So much experience as judge but letting other mislead her into the same old corruption as before. I stand by what I say because I have the proof. One can not silence the truth.