The state unfairly placed several parents on a list of alleged child abusers that negatively affected those people’s abilities ability to get jobs and other benefits, according to a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court’s Western District of Michigan. [MLive.com]
The suit alleges that some people were wrongly placed on the Michigan Central Registry of Child Abuse following child-protective services investigations, even when the ensuing investigation didn’t find evidence of abuse.
“The listing procedure is subjective, one-sided and automated,” attorney Elizabeth Warner wrote in the lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court.
“At the end of a CPS (child-protective services) investigation, the investigator becomes the judge and pronounces the accused to be guilty and unsafe to be around children (called a ‘substantiation’). The CPS worker then clicks a computer key to put an individual on the Central Registry – for life – with no neutral prior hearing to determine if the investigator’s accusation is true.”
In four cases documented by MLive, the people were put on the list without their knowledge. In one case, a woman was put on the list when her son alleged his father beat him and bit his lip to create an injury. The son later admitted lying about the incident. In another, a woman was put on the list when she returned an adopted daughter to the state so she could receive mental health treatment they couldn’t afford to give the child.
The problem, according to the lawsuit, is that the state shares the identity of those on the list with prospective employers during background checks. In each of the four cases MLive documented, were denied work or parental rights because of automatic placement on the list.
Expunction from the list is a long and arduous process, Warner told MLive.