Child Protective Services

Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo CPS Attorneys

Child abuse has long been a crime investigated by the police, and those responsible have been prosecuted in criminal court. However, a separate investigation designed to ensure the safety of children with those who care for them may also occur. Since 1975, Child Protective Services (CPS) is the program within the Department of Human Services (DHS) responsible for investigating such allegations. The Michigan Child Protection Law (MCL 722.621-638) provides a framework for what CPS must do. It defines child abuse and neglect as follows:

Child Abuse and Child Neglect Defense

Child abuse means harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare that occurs through non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation or maltreatment by a parent, a legal guardian or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare, or by a teacher, a teacher's aide or a member of the clergy. [MCL 722.622(f)]

Child neglect means harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by a parent, legal guardian or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare that occurs through either of the following:

  • Negligent treatment, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter or medical care.
  • Placing a child at an unreasonable risk to the child's health or welfare by failure of the parent, legal guardian or other person responsible for the child's health or welfare to intervene to eliminate that risk when that person is able to do so and has, or should have, knowledge of the risk. [MCL 722.622(j)]

Upon conclusion, all CPS investigations are assigned one of five dispositional categories:

  • Cat. 5 — No evidence found.
  • Cat. 4 — Some evidence, but less than a preponderance.
  • Cat. 3 — A preponderance of evidence supports that abuse or neglect has occurred, but a structured decision-making tool indicates a low or moderate risk of future harm to the child.
  • Cat. 2 — A preponderance of evidence supports that abuse or neglect has occurred, but a structured decision-making tool indicates a high or intensive harm to the child. The department shall open a protective services case and provide the services necessary.
  • Cat. 1 — A preponderance of evidence supports that abuse or neglect has occurred and the circumstances are such that a court petition must be filed with the Family Court to ensure safety of the children involved.

In both Category 1 and 2 cases, the names of the persons that CPS has determined to be perpetrators of child abuse or neglect are listed on the Michigan Child Abuse and Neglect Central Registry and, depending on the nature of the allegations, remain on the list for either 10 years or until DHS receives "reliable information that the perpetrator of the abuse or neglect is dead". This is required by the child protection law and no hearing is required for this to be done, although DHS must give notice to those being listed as perpetrators on the Central Registry.

Note: Individuals may be listed on the Central Registry, regardless of whether any criminal prosecution occurs or whether or not a child protective proceeding under the Juvenile Code is initiated by DHS in family court.

In child protective proceedings initiated in family court, DHS may seek to have the caretakers ordered to comply with services designed to address the concerns listed on the petition. Alternatively, DHS may seek to have the children removed and placed with relatives or in foster care. Depending on the circumstances, DHS may also request the termination of parental rights.

Many professions, including teachers, other care providers, and prospective adoptive and foster parents, now require that individuals show proof that he or she is not listed on the Central Registry. Individuals who request to have their name be removed from the Central Registry have the right to a hearing under the Administrative Procedures Act, if that request is denied. However, despite what the notices seem to say, you can request that your name be removed from the Central Registry at any time!

Please note that, due to a recent change in the law, individuals only have 6 months to request a hearing as to whether their name should remain on the Central Registry. Following that, a hearing may still be granted during an additional 60 day grace period, for good cause shown. Don't let the time run out! Consult an attorney now about whether you may be able to have your name expunged from the Central Registry.

Contact a Michigan Lawyer for Help With CPS Procedures

Whether you are currently involved with Child Protective Services or were listed on the Central Registry years ago, Willis Law may be able to assist you. Contact us by phone toll free at (888) 461-7744 or by email.

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