LANSING — A state law signed earlier this year will now allow parents, schools and licensed child care facilities to have easier access to the state’s child abuse and neglect registry.
Governor Whitmer’s Office said this week that the changes brought on by Wyatt’s Law to the state’s Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect will allow parents and schools to track offenders more accurately.
The law, signed by Whitmer last May and passed by the state’s legislature in a bipartisan vote, is named after Wyatt Rewoldt.
Wyatt was abused by his father’s girlfriend, who had a previous history of child abuse. Since 2014, Wyatt’s mother, Erica Hammel, worked to get the law passed so that parents could be made aware of past abuse by their children’s caregivers. The law provides greater access to the Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect, maintained by the MDHHS (Michigan Department of Health and Human Services) Children’s Services Agency.
Because of the law, authorized organizations, such as schools and child care centers that seek employees or volunteers who work with children, will be able to get confirmation that a prospective employee or volunteer is on the registry if that person gives permission for the clearance. Prior to the changes made by Wyatt’s Law, the MDHHS could only notify a requester if the person was not on the registry and could not confirm that someone was on it.
A parent or person responsible for a child who has reason to believe that another caregiver may place the child at risk can seek confirmation as to whether that person is on the registry. The request must be made to the appropriate local Friend of the Court office if the person has an active case.
If the requester does not have a Friend of the Court case, details will be available soon on the Central Registry page on the MDHHS website about how to make a request. The new law allows for someone to confirm registry placement for the child’s parent, caregiver or other person responsible.
The state says the Central Registry for Child Abuse and Neglect will ensure the system is frequently updated to include those who meet the criteria for inclusion on the list, such as people with confirmed histories of serious abuse and neglect, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation and/or methamphetamine production. Additionally, the system would ensure changes to the registry to keep it current with the new, stronger guidelines.
“MDHHS will continue to work tirelessly to protect the safety and well-being of Michigan children,” said Elizabeth Hertel, director of the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. “Parents should not have to worry that their children are in danger when they are with another caregiver.”