State Child Protection Workers Faulted for Conduct in Holland Case

By: Lori Dougovito Email
By: Lori Dougovito Email

State child protection workers in Jackson and Ingham counties failed to follow laws and rules in the case of 7-year-old Ricky Holland, who was killed by his adoptive mother, the Office of Children's Ombudsman said in a report released Friday.
Ombudsman Verlie Ruffin said workers didn't respond to a complaint of child abuse against Ricky within 24 hours and didn't take action to protect and ensure the safety of Ricky's siblings after Ricky went missing in July 2005.
"The children were extremely vulnerable," the report said.
The report also said there needs to be better communication among the Department of Human Services and people who file complaints of suspected abuse. A school nurse has testified she reported bruises on Ricky to Child Protective Services, which she says sent her a letter saying the complaint didn't warrant an investigation.
Parts of the 43-page report are redacted to protect confidentiality and privacy.
DHS Director Marianne Udow scheduled a 1 p.m. news conference to announce the results of the department's internal probe of the Ricky Holland case.
Ricky's father, Tim Holland, led police to his body in January. He pleaded guilty to second-degree murder and testified against his wife, who was found guilty of first-degree felony murder in the boy's death.
The Hollands became Ricky's foster parents in 2000 and adopted him in 2003, the year after the parental rights of his biological parents were terminated because of neglect. The Williamston couple also adopted Ricky's three younger siblings and also had a biological child.
The report found problems with the way workers handled the foster care, adoption and child protection cases involving Ricky.
For instance, it faulted an adoption worker for not assessing the Hollands' ability to meet the needs of their existing children when they adopted another sibling. It also said Jackson County officials shouldn't have filed a petition to finalize another sibling's adoption after Ricky had gone missing.
Tim Holland testified that his wife abused the boy for years, restraining him with ropes in the basement. He said the boy was listless and unable to walk in the last week of his life after Lisa Holland hit him in the head with a hammer -- not eating, drinking, walking or talking and smelling like urine.
Watch News Ten at 5 and 6 tonight for the latest on this story.


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