Child Protection for Native Americans. Cronkright Law.

Child Protection for Native Americans

March 29, 2018

Michigan’s Child Protection Law Amended for Native Americans

Did you know that the United States Constitution recognizes Indian Nations as sovereign governments?  Currently, the United States has 532 recognized Indian Nations. Of the 33 states where Indian Nations are found, Michigan has 12 of them.

Native Americans have fought for their rights for hundreds of years. Michigan Indian Nations recently won an important battle. The state legislature amended the Michigan Child Protection Law to allow Native American tribes access to certain Child Protective Services records related to a child within their tribe.

Better Access to Child Protection Records

Previously, the Child Protection law only allowed certain persons and entities access to reports, documents, or photographs filed with the Department of Health and Human Services. However, now a tribal representative, agency, or organization may get these records as well.

The amendment achieves important policy objectives. It helps protect children and streamline access to these sensitive records; reducing exposure to unnecessary third parties.  Also, according to Aaron Payment, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians Tribal Chairperson, it brings Michigan’s Child Protection Law into agreement with the Michigan Indian Family Preservation Act and the 1978 Indian Child Welfare act.

Michigan Tribes showed a unified front in calling for the bill. State Senator Judy Emmons sponsored it, and Governor Rick Snyder signed it into law on March 6th. A similar bill 4 years ago went nowhere but this one succeeded. This new law, Public Act 56 of 2018, will take effect around June 4, 2018.

At Cronkright Law, we support any and all efforts to offer real protection to Michigan children.  This law is a step in the right direction.  Thank you Senator Emmons, Michigan Native American leaders, and Governor Snyder for all of your hard work.