The Bay County Probate Judge presides as the Family Court - Juvenile Division judge for these matters. The Family Court - Juvenile Division only becomes involved following an investigation and subsequent conclusion of abuse or neglect and removal of the child by CPS.
To report abuse and neglect contact the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS).
MDHHS Phone Number: 855-444-3911
Children's Protective Services (CPS), a subsidiary of MDHHS, is responsible for investigating allegations of child abuse and neglect. The Michigan Child Protection Law provides the framework for what CPS must do.
Child Abuse: Child abuse is defined as harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare that occurs through non-accidental physical or mental injury, sexual abuse, sexual exploitation, or maltreatment, by a parent, a legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare or by a teacher, a teacher's aide, or a member of the clergy.
Child Neglect: Child neglect is defined as harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare by a parent, legal guardian, or any other person responsible for the child's health or welfare that occurs through either of the following:
Negligent treatment, including the failure to provide adequate food, clothing, shelter, or medical care.
Placing a child at an unreasonable risk to the child's health or welfare by failure of the parent, legal guardian, or other person responsible for the child's health or welfare to intervene to eliminate that risk when that person is able to do so and has, or should have, knowledge of the risk.
Mandated Reporters: Mandated Reporters are those persons who are required to report cases of suspected child abuse to the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS). These are people who have regular contact with the child through work or a regularly scheduled activity, or are otherwise directly responsible for the child. For more information on Mandated Reporters in Michigan, visit the MDHHS Mandated Reporters website.
Types of Cases Heard by the Family Court - Juvenile Division
Intervention by the juvenile court occurs within three different types of circumstances:
Dependent children are those who have been abused, neglected or abandoned. The juvenile court must decide who will be responsible for the care of these children.
Juvenile delinquents are persons under 18 years of age who have committed an illegal act which, if committed by an adult, would be considered a criminal offense, such as a felony or misdemeanor. See “Juvenile Division” for more information.
Status offenders are minors who have committed offenses which are only illegal due to their age and would not be considered illegal if committed by adults. Examples include truancy, running away from home, and so on. See “Juvenile Division” for more information.
The Family Court Juvenile Division gets involved in the lives of children when:
There are concerns that a parent is not able to keep his or her child safe from abuse or neglect, in which the court will start a juvenile dependency case.
Minors are accused of breaking the law. Click “Juvenile Division” to find out more about juvenile delinquency cases.
The “Juvenile Division” page contains information on dependency cases that may be useful for grandparents, parents, children, or other relatives.
Important: Juvenile dependency cases are very serious. They can change the life of you and your child. Talk to a lawyer for more help understanding your rights and the court process.
Guide for Parents
For Parents whose child was removed from the home because of abuse or neglect; or a father of the child, a non-biological parent, a partner of the child’s biological parent, or a person who otherwise has or believes they should have parental rights for the child, keep in mind that juvenile dependency cases are very serious. Talk to a lawyer for more help understanding your rights and the courts. You may qualify for a court appointed attorney.
For more information, read the Child Protection Handbook. This guide explains the dependency court process in Michigan. Also see the Child Protection Pamphlet for Parents of Children in the Child Protection System.
Guide for Children
If you have been removed from your home or if you are still living at home but there is a social worker involved in your life, you probably have a case that involves the family court. The following information is for kids to learn about what it means to have a case in family court.
What does juvenile "dependency" mean?
When children come to court because a parent has hurt them or not taken care of them, this is a juvenile dependency case. Until a child grows up, they are dependent on adults and need their protection. If your parents can't or won’t take care of you properly, the court may step in and you may become “dependent” on the court for safeguarding. When this happens, you may have to live with relatives or another family for a while.
Who is who in a juvenile dependency case?
Having a juvenile dependency case means that different people will be checking on how you are doing. During your dependency case you will meet your lawyer and your social worker. You might also meet the judge, if you decide to go to court. The judge might give permission for you to meet with a Court Appointed Special Advocate.
So, who are all these people and what do they have to do with you?
Your lawyer: This person is your advocate – they will speak and fight for you in court. Your conversations with your lawyer are confidential. That means that your lawyer cannot tell anyone else what you have told them unless you say it is okay. In Michigan, your lawyer must tell the judge what is in your best interests and they must tell the judge what you want. Sometimes those can be two different things. Talk to your lawyer if you have questions about why they think a certain outcome is in your best interests and you don’t agree.
The social worker: They are responsible for helping foster youth in every way. Social workers find the foster home, make sure you have everything you need, and that you are happy. They also have to visit you every month to make sure everything is going well.
The Judge: They try to make sure all your needs are being met. They are also the person who makes the big decisions in your case, like whether or not you will go home and what your visitation with your parents will be like. The judge makes these decisions based on what is in your best interests.
CASA: Court appointed special advocates (CASA) are people who volunteer to work with kids who have dependency cases. CASAs are supposed to look out for your best interests and give the court their opinion on how things are going for you.
You have rights!
It may not feel like it sometimes, but you have certain rights in a dependency case. You have the right to:
Have a support person present when a social worker interviews you at school.
Go to court; If you are 10 years old or older, the social worker or your lawyer must tell you the court date and ask if you want to attend.
Be involved in coming up with your case plan; If you are 12 years old or older and placed in a foster home, group home, or with relatives, you have the right to go over your case plan, sign it, and have a copy of it. You also have the right to be told about any changes that are going to be made to your case plan.
Stay at your school; If you have been removed from your parents you have the right to stay at your school
Visit with your siblings; If you have been removed from your parents you have the right to ask the judge to allow you to visit with your siblings.
Click here to see a full list of foster kids’ rights.
Guide for Caregivers
If a child you are related to or for whom you provide care gets involved in a dependency case, you may have rights. Generally, grandparents, extended family members, and close family friends have one very important right – they get preference when the social worker decides where the child should live, as long as they are willing to care for the child and the social worker and the court finds they are an appropriate placement.
Relatives may also have the right to get official notice of some court hearings from the court and social worker. If you are a close relative or friend of the family, however, you are likely to find out about the dependency case before the social worker has a chance to contact you.
Important: When you hear that your relative is involved in a dependency case, you should contact the social services department in your county right away. Click to contact your county’s social services department.