LANSING, Mich, (WLNS) – A new bill would change state law to allow sitting legislators and credentialed media to have access to case files from Children’s Protective Services.

The call for transparency comes after the death of 5-year-old Ethan Belcher in the Detroit area in January.

According to police officials, Belcher was killed after suffering physical abuse from his stepfather Shane Shelton and his mother Valeria Hamilton. Both were later arrested.

Relatives said they contacted state officials with concerns about Belcher’s safety for several years. He was found dead in his home on Jan. 22.

Republican State Senator Jim Runestad doesn’t believe the law should allow the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to restrict information on cases like Ethan Belcher’s.

He’s hoping this new bill would help to keep children safe.

“We can’t find out a single detail on the case unless it’s deemed for public use. That doesn’t lead to any consequences. CPS wants to cover its rear end.  We have to be able to get in there and look at these cases,” Runestad said.            

Bob Wheaton, Public Information Officer for the Department of Health and Human Services, said the department extends its sympathies to the Belcher family.

Wheaton said that the privacy of CPS records has been part of state law for decades and that it was made to protect children “from the additional trauma of having the intimate details of their alleged abuse and neglect made public.”

The family of Ethan Belcher believes the state failed him and his older brother. They say Belcher’s brother is in foster care and may be sent to live with relatives.