Child Abuse Registry: New Michigan Law Expands Access
According to the Federal Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act (CAPTA), as amended by the CAPTA Reauthorization Act of 2010, child abuse and neglect describe any form of maltreatment resulting in violence or the threat of violence against a child by an adult.
Child abuse includes physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, commercial exploitation, and negligence. Acts constituting child abuse include assault, excessive discipline, failure to provide adequate shelter, verbal threats, name-calling, and repeatedly humiliating the child.
The Child Welfare Information Gateway describes a child as someone who is below the age of 18. The abusers may be the parents or caregivers of a child. They may also be adults who are not directly responsible for the child’s welfare, but have interactions with them, like teachers (i.e. teacher sexual misconduct), religious leaders, and sports coaches.
According to the World Health Organization, about 300 million children below the age of five suffer physical or psychological abuse. Its consequences are long-lasting, far-reaching, and sometimes life-threatening. For example, the United States recorded the death of 1,750 children from abuse and neglect in 2020.
Therefore, many legal systems impose strict penalties on people convicted of child abuse and neglect. These penalties include a hefty fine, incarceration, probation, limited parental rights, and the imposition of a restraining order on the abusive adult.
Child Abuse Registry
The Child Abuse Registry is a central registry containing details of people who have been convicted of child abuse or are reasonably suspected of involvement in child abuse cases. Every state has developed a system for maintaining records relating to investigations and reports of child abuse and neglect reports. Many of them have a statewide central registry, a database of investigation records on cases of child abuse and neglect.
The Purpose of Central Registries
Maintaining records of child abuse and neglect reports in a central registry help child protective services identify and protect neglected and abused children. The reports from central registries are used to aid child protection agencies in investigating, handling, and preventing child abuse cases.
These central registry records are also used to screen people that are to be entrusted with childcare. Every state requires checking the central registry or department records for people who want to be adoptive or foster parents or child care providers. Thus, central registries are helpful to agencies like the Children’s Bureau and other child protection agencies.
Maintenance and Content of Central Registries
In many states, these central registries are maintained by the state social services departments. However, in some states, like West Virginia and California, the state police maintain the central registry.
The content of central registries and department records varies between states. Standard information, like the name and address of the child, the name of the child’s parent or ward, the nature of the harm suffered by the child, and the name of the abuser, are often included. While some states maintain only substantiated records of child abuse and neglect, others maintain only investigated records.
Access to Central Registries
Generally, access to central registries and department records varies from state to state. However, the information gathered from founded or substantiated reports is typically provided to employers in the education, healthcare, and child care sectors.
Michigan Central Registry
The Department of Health and Human Services maintains a statewide child abuse and neglect central registry in Michigan. This electronic registry is used to keep a systematic record of all the reports filed with the department. The department is responsible for maintaining all the reports containing accurate or relevant evidence of child abuse and neglect.
Any report subject to a field investigation must be entered into the Child Protective Service Information (CPSI) system. The department is to maintain such a record until the child it involves is 18 years of age or after ten years, depending on which instance is later. For central registry cases, their reports must be maintained until the department obtains substantial evidence of the death of the perpetrator of the child abuse or neglect.
Child abuse is considered a severe offense in Michigan. A new Michigan law has expanded the child abuse and neglect central registry access to parents and caregivers. This expansion helps allow them to check the central registry to ensure that the people caring for their children do not have a history of sexual abuse.
While the legislation was undergoing the lawmaking process, its prior versions proposed the creation of a separate registry for abusers. However, the newly enacted law focuses on refining the central registry maintained by the Department of Health and Human Services in Michigan.
Presently, Michigan’s central registry has over 300,000 names of people investigated by child protective services. The new legislation makes this database more available and searchable to a broader audience. It ensures that the database only contains the names of people who have been proven to be involved in child abuse and neglect cases directly or indirectly.
Removing Names from Central Registries
People who have been convicted of child abuse and neglect have their names placed in the child abuse and neglect central registry. The registry also contains the names of people against whom evidence of child abuse exists and if there is a high risk of recurrence in the future.
Also, the Child Protection Law requires that some people’s names be included in the statewide central registry, regardless of risk. Once your name is contained in the central registry in Michigan, you will be notified by the Department of Health and Human Services.
There are expungement laws in Michigan to remove the names of people with criminal records from the statewide database. You can seek an amendment of your record at the central registry.
You can also apply for an expungement of your name from the child abuse and neglect central registry through a written request for an administrative hearing within 180 days of being notified of your name’s inclusion in the registry. The new Michigan law also creates an appeal process to remove a person’s name from the central registry’s database.
When Do I Need An Attorney?
If you have been accused of child abuse and neglect, you need an attorney to represent you. Child abuse penalties could harm your life for a long time, so you need to act quickly. Contact the top Michigan criminal sexual conduct attorney Nicole Blank Becker for proper representation.