Child-welfare watchdog has limited computer access

Jan 25, 2013

LANSING, Mich. (AP) - A watchdog created by Michigan lawmakers to investigate child-welfare cases has no access to certain computers at the Department of Human Services.

An audit released Friday says the problem exists even eight years after creation of the Office of Children's Ombudsman. The ombudsman is an independent appointee with authority to investigate how the department handles child protection, foster care and juvenile justice.

The Department of Human Services says it doesn't have money to modify the computer system to give the ombudsman access. The agency is promising access in 2014.

Auditors say the ombudsman is supposed to see medical and mental health records as well as other documents. Verlie Ruffin has been ombudsman since 2006.