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Still unanswered questions about state of Michigan's involvement in life and death of Ricky Holland

Ricky Holland's parents--Tim and Lisa--are getting settled in their prison cells after being convicted of his brutal death.  The seven-year-old from Williamston, Michigan died a death that's usually reserved for victims of a genocide.

Now life moves on for the citizens of mid-Michigan who have been closely watching this case as it moved from being the case of a missing child to that of a brutal and horrendous murder.

But important questions still linger about the state of Michigan's child protection apparatus and how well it's working to protect kids who are at-risk for abuse and neglect.

Our state has an elaborate set of laws to investigate and protect kids in these situations and there are sanctions for child protection workers who don't do their jobs.  We also have the Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman to insure that the state is doing its job.

But during the preliminary examination and trial for the Hollands, there were only hints about the state's involvement or lack of it in the life of Ricky.  The media coverage suggested that state foster care workers may have neglected visits to Ricky and his family over an extended period of time.

But, there has been nothing else.

  • Does the public have a right to know whether its at-risk kids are being protected from dangerous parents and care-providers?
  • Is it fair to ask whether the state is doing its job to protect these kids?
  • How effective is the Michigan children's ombudsman in showing the weak spots in the state's safety net?
  • What role should the Michigan Legislature play in providing oversight of the Department of Human Service's child protection workers?

These are uncomfortable questions, both for those asking them and those answering.  But, they should be put out there, right?

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