Michigan Implements Statewide Hotline to Report Abuse and Neglect

There is a single phone number to call to report shutterstock_74670103-300x202suspected child abuse and neglect in Michigan, now that the state’s Department of Human Services (DHS) has replaced its 83 county-based call centers with a centralized hotline.

“The rollout of the centralized hotline is a major step forward in our campaign to reform Michigan’s long struggling child welfare system,” said Sara Bartosz, senior staff attorney for Children’s Rights. “DHS cannot adequately protect the children it is called upon to serve unless it first has the basic capacity to address all reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in a consistent, competent and timely way. The centralized hotline is a key part of building that capacity,” Bartosz added.

The centralized hotline provides a common point of entry for all allegations of child abuse or neglect. Specially trained hotline workers receive reports of abuse or neglect and make screening decisions to assure that children at risk of harm in their parental homes become subject to a timely child protective services investigation and, where appropriate, the recipient of DHS services and supports either in their family homes or in foster care. The far-flung, county-based reporting system made it difficult for DHS to fulfill its child protective services mandate consistently across the state.

The creation of the hotline is one of the requirements of a comprehensive modified settlement agreement to reform foster care for Michigan’s abused and neglected kids. The agreement was reached between Children’s Rights and the state, following Children’s Rights’ federal class action lawsuit alleging Michigan failed to provide kids with safe, stable foster homes and permanent families. A court-appointed monitor is overseeing Michigan’s progress in meeting the requirements of the agreement, including the hotline.

The toll free number, 1-855-444-3911, is available to the general public and mandatory reporters such as teachers, doctors and law enforcement officials. Hotline calls will be answered 24 hours a day, seven days a week by trained staff.