The Operation Excellence Team named by Gov. Rick Snyder to address numerous shortcomings cited in a recent state audit last week announced actions it has taken to improve Child Protective Services (CPS) in Michigan.
Added resources and enhanced tools will enable CPS staff to improve investigations of suspected child abuse and neglect. Snyder formed the team in September to support the staff at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Children’s Services Agency. Its mission was to determine the best way to address shortcomings and needed improvements.
“Michigan must improve its Children’s Protective Services investigations to better protect children and assure accurate and supportable conclusions,” Snyder said. “Improving investigation protocols, realigning supervisory duties, and providing much-needed technology improvements will help CPS become more efficient and effective when carrying out the serious work they do protecting Michigan’s children.”
Working with DHHS supervisors and field staff, the Operations Excellence Team spearheaded several improvements, including:
- Creating a supervisory Control Protocol Portal that will increase a supervisor’s ability to verify completion of investigation requirements.
- Enhancing the statewide system for CPS workers to better document steps completed in an investigation and to more easily search the system for information about individuals who are being investigated for possible child abuse or neglect;
- Creating a Compliance Review Team focused on reviewing cases and providing feedback to supervisors to improve documentation and how cases are handled;
- Creating a Peer Review Team to provide independent oversight and identify areas of strength statewide in how CPS investigations are handled.
- Creating a team of staff to provide ongoing supervisory skill development workshops to their peers, which will focus on improving local office culture and enhancing supervisors’ ability to deliver effective supervision and leadership.
- Advancing a spending request that would increase the number of CPS workers and supervisors to address workload demands cited in the audit.
“By working together, we also began to recognize the increased time supervisors must devote to effective and timely verification of compliance with investigation requirements,” said Operational Excellence Team leader Orlene Hawks. “As a result, the department is working to relieve supervisors of other responsibilities that may take them away from their core duties.”
In addition, a new CPS mobile application – Mobile Investigator – was rolled out today in five counties: Clare, Clinton, Eaton, Isabella and Livingston. The goal is for statewide implementation by February.
Mobile Investigator will give Michigan’s nearly 1,500 CPS investigators the ability to remotely enter contact information for people interviewed during investigations, as well as scan and upload documents. One app feature improves safety and security for CPS employees, by letting them check in when they reach a location during an investigation.
“Our staff are committed to helping children and families and work hard every day on behalf of the people of Michigan,” said Dr. Herman McCall, executive director of MDHHS’s Children’s Services agency. “Audit findings reflect systemic issues that we are correcting and are not a reflection on our dedicated staff. This new app gives them another tool that will help them do their jobs better.”
The Michigan Department of Technology, Management and Budget with Deloitte Consulting assisted in developing the app, which ensures security and confidentiality for sensitive CPS information.