Sen. Jansen's legislation helping increase child permanency signed into law
Monday, July 14, 2008
LANSING - Legislation improving the child welfare system by increasing the permanency options for children removed from their homes because of abuse or neglect has been signed into law, said Sen. Mark C. Jansen, chair of the Senate Families and Human Services Committee.
“The number of cases ending with the termination of parental rights is outpacing the number of adoptions at a staggering rate,” said Jansen, R-Gaines Township. “We need to increase permanency and stability for children.”
The new laws include recommendations of a workgroup formed by Michigan Supreme Court Justice Maura Corrigan to address unintended consequences of state and federal legislation adopted in the mid-1990s. Public Acts 199 through 203 of 2008 were the culmination of a year’s worth of workgroups and input gathered from various interested parties.
Under the new acts, the court is permitted to appoint a permanent guardian for a child removed from their home due to abuse or neglect either before or after parental rights have been terminated if the court considers it to be in the child’s best interests. The guardianship is subject to a court review within a year and additional periodic reviews as the court deems necessary.
Two bills in the package provide the courts with an alternative placement option called “permanent guardianship,” which allows a family that loves the child and is able to provide a permanent, stable home to do so when adoption is not the best option.
The bipartisan reforms also provide for concurrent planning, which allows family reunification while establishing a back-up permanency plan in case the child cannot be returned home safely. Another act also requires notice be given to the court and the child’s lawyer guardian ad litem if there is a change in the child’s placement.
Finally, the new measures will allow judges to decide whether or not to suspend parental visitation when a petition to terminate parental rights is pending. The judge must consider the child’s best interests.
“I’m relieved that these vital pieces of legislation were signed into law,” Jansen said. “These laws will help provide new permanency options for children removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect.”
Print friendly version Email this page