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Audit of Child Protective Services finds pattern of failure to meet requirements

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An audit of the state's Child Protective Services released Thursday found a pattern of failures to follow state requirements.

The audit reviewed CPS investigations between May 2014 and July 2016.

The report noted CPS investigators failed to complete criminal history background checks in more than 50% of the cases, and that at least 257 confirmed perpetrators of child abuse or neglect were not added to a mandatory statewide registry.

Michigan Department of Health and Human Services spokesman Bob Wheaton said it’s hard to know how so many failures occurred.

“It is complicated, difficult work and certainly there is always room for improvements in administration and training, and a whole variety of aspects of the operations of the children's protective services systems,” he said.

Wheaton said it’s impossible to definitively say if children were put in danger by actions taken - or not taken - by CPS.

“Some of the findings have to do with documentation, so obviously if it’s a situation where the actions are taken that need to be taken and it’s just not documented that would not be something that would very likely affect the safety of a child,” he said.

Wheaton said the department has already made improvements since the audit, particularly in response times for launching investigations into allegations of child abuse or neglect.

The audit found that the department was an average of six days late in conducting face-to-face meetings with alleged child abuse victims in 11% of cases.

Michele Corey is with Michigan’s Children, a child advocacy group. She said the report highlights the work the state needs to do to better support families and children who come into contact with the child welfare system.

“We really just need to look to our leaders to do better prioritization for this population and I think this audit just seconds that,” she said.

Corey said she was glad to see a serious look at how children are being served by the system. And, she said, it’s clear the state under-invests in that system.

You can find the full audit here.

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