Children's Rights

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Michigan’s Department of Human Services has introduced a more streamlined process for reporting child and elder abuse in the state.

It’s one of a series of child welfare improvements the state agreed to make when it settled a lawsuit with New York-based Children’s Rights group in 2008.

The agreement required DHS to create a statewide, 24-hour hotline that anyone in Michigan can call to report possible child or elder abuse.

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A new report says about 70% of  children in Michigan who are eligible for child support do receive the payments. An Auditor General’s report on Michigan’s child support system says about $3 billion in child support payments were collected over the last two years.    

Marilyn Stephen is the director of Child Support with the Department of Human Services. She says the number of eligible kids who receive child support payments could always be better. 

“I don’t know that I’d categorize it as either good or bad. It’s great that there are 70% of children who are receiving the support that they are entitled to, but that means that there’s 30% that we spend probably 90 percent of our time looking for and trying to identify income and assets.”

Stephen  doubts the state will never be able to make every parent pay child support.

 “I would submit that we’ll probably never be at zero, because there will probably always be individuals who lack the education and the job history and frankly the employment to pay their child support. So that’s a persistent problem, and not just in Michigan, but across the nation, and really across the world.”

Stephen says the state’s child support program is a great return on investment for taxpayers, with more than $6 in child support collected for every dollar spent.

A court appointed monitor watching over Michigan’s child protective
services warns that system is “substantially non-compliant” with a court agreement. 
The state agreed to make measurable improvements to its child welfare system when it settled a lawsuit with New York-based Children’s Rights group in 2008.
But two years later, a monitor says the state Department of Human Services has shown a “frustrating lack of progress” in implementing reforms.
Sarah Bartosz, a senior attorney for Children’s Rights, says the state is about a year behind where it should be.