LANSING, Mich. (CBS DETROIT) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services is one of five agencies nationwide that has been awarded a federal grant to reduce and prevent child abuse or neglect deaths and injuries.

The U.S. Department of Justice Office for Victims of Crime is providing $750,000 over 3 years and assistance from experts in addressing child maltreatment injuries and fatalities.

Through the project MDHHS will identify children who are most at risk of abuse and neglect and act to prevent deaths and injuries. MDHHS will collect and analyze data and work with community partners to develop prevention plans. Progress will be shared nationally and regionally. The project is known as Reducing Fatalities and Recurring Child Injuries and Crimes Caused by Crime Victimization.

In fiscal year 2018, more than 96,000 reports of suspected child abuse or neglect in Michigan were assigned for investigation by Children’s Protective Services. In fiscal year 2017, Children’s Protective Services received 298 complaints alleging a child may have died from abuse or neglect, with 84 of those complaints resulting in MDHHS substantiating abuse/neglect.

“Protecting the safety and well-being of children is vitally important,” said JooYeun Chang, executive director of the MDHHS Children’s Services Agency. “If we can better identify risk factors, we can step in and prevent a tragedy before it happens. Protecting children is a community responsibility and this grant will allow us to better work with our partners to keep children safe.”

Among other things, the initiative will involve:

  • Using existing data to identify the factors that place children at the greatest risk for maltreatment injury and death. Using the data and input from partners, MDHHS will create a fatality/injury risk identification tool, which will be used by Children’s Protective Services and perhaps other partners.
  • Increasing community awareness of child abuse and neglect through collaboration and education using tools such as social media.
  • Expanding the efforts of the Michigan Child Death State Advisory Team/Citizen Review Panel on Child Fatalities. Serving as a state advisory committee for the project, the panel will create a forum for sharing information and innovations related to preventing child maltreatment deaths and injuries.

MDHHS will work with the Michigan Public Health Institute (MPHI) –  a nonprofit that focused on public health issues – on the grant project. Nationally, the Alliance for Strong Families and Communities – a Washington, D.C., strategic action network that works to achieve a healthy and equitable society – will  provide technical assistance to the five agencies that received grants.

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