Legislator says more examination is needed for kids, families
State Rep. Jamie Thompson recently joined fellow legislators for a meeting with victims and families of loved ones have suffered in the care of the state’s Hawthorn Center, as well as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Child Protective Services (CPS).
The Protect MI Kids event in Rochester Hills allowed impacted individuals to have a platform to share their stories and concerns as state lawmakers pursue solutions to protect minors in the care of the state.
“I came to the Legislature to stand up for our families and make sure kids throughout our state are safe,” said Thompson, of Brownstown, who serves on the House Families, Children and Seniors Committee. “It angered me to listen to accounts from people who have been failed or had had loved ones who were failed. It is the state’s charge to make sure these young people are cared for. There must be accountability for what has unfolded and we must develop better practices to give people faith that these systems can be trusted.”
At least 17 young patients have escaped supervision at the Hawthorn Center in Northville Township – the only state-run psychiatric hospital for minors – showcasing a troubling security pattern. Parents discussed issues that arose involving how restraints are used on children, and a difficult option some were presented with involving temporarily or permanently signing away parental rights upon admittance to the state residential facility for treatment.
The facility is set to be demolished and rebuilt on the existing site with construction beginning this fall. State officials have plans to temporarily house patients at Reuther Hospital, where adults are currently being treated, which could lead to additional welfare concerns.
Thompson has signed onto a letter to the state’s Auditor General requesting a performance review of the center to further examine patient care and opinions of staff about patient treatment, the effectiveness of patient treatment complaints, clinical decisions and more.
In addition to issues at Hawthorn, an in-depth report from the Detroit News last month also illustrated issues with Michigan CPS – leading to calls for investigations from legislative Republicans.
“We must prioritize what clearly is an ongoing issue instead of pretending that there isn’t one,” Thompson said. “An important piece of that is giving people who have been wronged a voice – and change comes from being heard. The safety and well-being of our children is paramount – and these are children in the state’s care.”
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