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New Legislation Addresses Communication Between Child Protective Services and the Friend of the Court

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by Rebecca Shiemke, MPLP Family Law Attorney

Senate Bill 1418 amends sections of the child protection law and was signed by the Governor on October 8, 2008 with an immediate effective date.  The bill amends MCL 722.623, which sets out a laundry list of professions that are required to report to the Department of Human Services (DHS) office of Child Protective Services if the individual has reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect.  The bill adds “a person employed in a professional capacity in any office of the friend of the court” to the list of mandatory reporters.  

In addition, the bill amends MCL 722.628 by adding new sections 18-21 addressing communication between DHS and Friend of the Court offices.  First, DHS must determine whether there is an open friend of the court case regarding a child who is the subject of a CPS investigation for abuse or neglect, if the investigation results in one of the following dispositions:

  • A finding that preponderance of the evidence indicates there has been abuse and neglect;
  • Emergency removal of the child before the investigation is complete;
  • The court takes jurisdiction over the child who remains at home;
  • 1 or more of the children are removed and 1 or more remains in the home;
  • Any other circumstances related to child safety.

Second, if DHS determines that there is an open friend of the court case and the provisions above apply, it must notify the local friend of the court office that there is an investigation regarding a child of the case.  DHS must also notify the friend of the court whenever there is a change in the child’s placement.

Third, CPS may report to the friend of the court whenever a parent makes unfounded abuse or neglect reports more than three times in a year or on five cumulative reports over several years.  This is not a mandatory provision.

Finally, where DHS determines there is an open friend of the court case DHS must provide noncustodial parents of a child who is suspected of being abused or neglected with a form developed by DHS that has information about how to change a custody or parenting time order.

For a text of the bill, go to: