Holland Case Has Impact Beyond Courtroom

By: Tony Tagliavia
By: Tony Tagliavia

It's a case whose impact has spread well beyond the courtroom.

"Believe me, there will be an investigation of what happened. If there needs to be corrections, those will be made," Gov. Jennifer Granholm told reporters February 16.

Those "corrections" would be made at the Department of Human Services. Court documents and testimony in the Ricky Holland murder case claim the department saw multiple reports of abuse by Ricky's parents before he died.

The DHS investigation into the case cannot be discussed while elements of the Holland case are pending.

But since the February announcement, the governor and the legislature have given the department additional caseworkers to combat staff shortages.

DHS director Marianne Udow discussed the ramifications of the Holland trial in a phone interview Thursday.

"This case affirms the course that we are taking," Udow said. "(We are) increasing the current background checks on foster parents and caregivers," she said. Other pending changes include more information sharing to prevent losing track of children who move from county to county, more training and more community involvement.

Udow says the changes have been underway for three years.

The Michigan Office of Children's Ombudsman has conducted its own investigation into the Holland case, although, like DHS, the office can't speak about the investigation while the case is ongoing.

Even the state legislature has weighed in, with its House Special Committee on Child Protection calling for the Children's Ombudsman office to be shifted from the executive branch to legislative control.

That's a move the governor has opposed.

More changes and more information could come once all the components of the Holland trial are complete.

Until then, Udow says her agency is hoping for justice in the case.

"We, with everyone else, are waiting to see what the jury does."


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