Our Teams

State Leadership Team

Kim Batsche-McKenzie: Project Director

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Kim Batsche-McKenzie is the Director of Program and Grant Development and Quality Monitoring in the Bureau of Children’s Coordinated Health Policy and Supports at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Kim oversees early childhood mental health services including Infant Mental Health and Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health Consultation (program development and funding). Kim serves as the Michigan Early Childhood Courts Project Director and sits on the Leadership Team. Kim is also a member of the Think Babies Steering Committee and advocate, within my administration, for equitable access to services for all children and families.

Michele Hall: Statewide Coordinator

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Michele Hall has an extensive background and experience in the field of early childhood courts and infant mental health. As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, she serves as the Statewide Coordinator for the Infant Toddler Court Project grant. Her previous role involves working with families on the Wayne County Baby Court docket as an Infant Mental Health Clinician and supervisor. She has also played a pivotal role as the Community Coordinator in the development of Baby Court in Pinal County, AZ.

Michele has oversight of the Infant Toddler Court Program grant and works within the State Leadership Team, as well as with Wayne County Baby Court teams. One of Michele's responsibilities is to build community connections for counties that show interest in Michigan Early Childhood Courts. This involves facilitating meetings and trainings aimed at educating and engaging various stakeholders involved in the early childhood court system. She also sits on the Leadership Team and plays a role in decision-making and strategic planning for the program.

Michele Hall's work focuses on promoting the well-being of infants, toddlers, and their families within the context of the court system. Her expertise and involvement in multiple facets of early childhood courts highlight her dedication to supporting early childhood development and the importance of mental health in the early years.

Dr. Ann Stacks: Project Evaluator Co-Lead, Wayne State University

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Dr. Stacks is the Director of the Infant Mental Health Training Program at Wayne State University. Dr. Stacks has served as the Wayne County Baby Court University Partner since 2009 where she conducted process and outcomes evaluations, written grant applications, published findings, and developed/conducted trainings for the Baby Court team and additional trainings for the court and child welfare staff on the developmental needs of infants and toddlers. Dr. Stacks’ program of research focuses on environmental risk and protective factors that shape infant mental health and the impact of interventions on caregiving sensitivity and reflective functioning. Dr. Stacks will co-lead the Michigan Early Childhood Courts evaluation, sit on the State Leadership Team, convene the evaluation work groups and work with HRSA and the NRC. Dr. Stacks serves on several advisory boards, including Kids Count, Michigan CFSR Improvement Plan Taskforce, and Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems.

Dr. Bryan Victor: Project Evaluator Co-Lead, Wayne State University

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Dr. Victor is a social work researcher specializing in child maltreatment response and prevention strategies. With expertise in advanced quantitative analysis, data science methods, and administrative data research, including probabilistic records matching, Dr. Victor is at the forefront of research in this field. Dr. Victor’s knowledge extends to violence prevention, records linkage, and statistical analysis, making him a valuable asset in evaluating and improving child welfare services.

Dr. Victor has extensive experience leading both process and outcome evaluations related to child welfare services. His dedication to assessing the effectiveness of interventions and programs contributes to evidence-based practices in the field. As part of his role, Dr. Victor will co-lead the evaluation of the Michigan Early Childhood Courts and holds a position on the ECC Leadership Team. His contributions will help shape the future of early childhood courts and enhance the well-being of children and families.

Patricia Neitman: Bureau Director, MDHHS

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Patricia is the Bureau Director for the Bureau of Children’s Coordinated Health, Policy, and Supports at MDHHS. In this role, Patricia provides administrative leadership, oversight, and strategic direction for BCCHPS, including oversight of the Office of the Advocate for Children, Youth, and Families; the Program, Grant, and Quality Monitoring Division; and the Access Standards, Service Array and Policy Division. This involves coordination with community partners and leadership from other administrations within MDHHS to further develop the coordinated array of services and supports available to children, youth and families, and ensure that BCCHPS is a centralized resource for child-serving systems and initiatives throughout our state. This work is an important part of MDHHS’ overall priorities to ensure people have access to health care where and when they need it, and to keep kids safe by impacting placement stabilization, wellness, services, workforce development and supports, and prevention interventions.

Patricia has a bachelor’s degree in psychology and English from Wayne State University and a master’s degree in clinical behavioral psychology from Eastern Michigan University. During her tenure with MDHHS, she has served as a Child Welfare Licensing consultant, program manager and, later, as a director of the Division of Child Welfare Licensing. In addition, she gained experience as a program manager in Adoption and Guardianship Assistance Office before joining the Office of the Advocate for Children, Youth, and Families as division director. Patricia has also served as an adjunct instructor at Oakland Community College, teaching psychology courses to undergraduate students.

Ali Cosgrove: State Assistant Administrator, MDHHS

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Ali currently serves as the State Assistant Administrator for the Bureau of Children’s Coordinated Health Policy and Supports at the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services. Ali began her career in state service in 2009, starting with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) as a foster care caseworker in Ingham County and moving on to serve as an analyst for the Office of Family Advocate, and for Michigan’s Title IV-E waiver demonstration project, Protect MiFamily. Ali also served as the Executive Assistant to the Deputy Director and as the Bureau Coordinator for Out of Home Services, both within the department’s Children’s Services Administration. Ali has led several initiatives related to workforce development and has special interest in the areas of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) and trauma. She has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Grand Valley State University and a master’s degree in Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education from Michigan State University (Go Green!).

Demetrius Starling: Senior Deputy Director, CSA

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Demetrius Starling is the senior deputy director for Michigan Department of Health and Human Services' (MDHHS) Children’s Services Administration (CSA), where he oversees the state’s child welfare system, including Children’s Protective Services (CPS), the foster care system, adoption services, family preservation services, and juvenile justice programs.

Starling has worked in the child welfare field for more than 20 years, beginning with his career as a CPS specialist at Wayne County MDHHS. He has since served in numerous managerial positions at MDHHS, including the director for Sanilac and St. Clair counties’ MDHHS.

Prior to his appointment as CSA executive director in May 2021, Starling served as CSA’s in-home services bureau director overseeing prevention, preservation, and protection programs. During his time at CSA, he has been an integral part of formulating diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, human trafficking initiatives, and served on various continuous quality improvement teams.

Starling earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Ferris State University.

Casey Anbender: Child Welfare Manager, SCAO

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Casey Anbender is the Child Welfare Manager of the Child Welfare & Juvenile Justice Services Division at the Michigan Supreme Court, State Court Administrative Office (SCAO). Casey has been with SCAO since 2010, where she has focused on providing assistance to juvenile courts and child welfare stakeholders on strategies to improve child protective proceedings and family outcomes. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree and attained her Juris Doctor, with special concentration in Family Law & ADR, from Michigan State University College of Law. Casey resides in Ann Arbor, MI where she enjoys practicing yoga and spending time with her husband, Andrew, and two children, Cecilia and Giorgio.

Dr. Debra Pinals: Medical Director for Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs, MDHHS

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Debra A. Pinals, M.D., serves as Senior Medical and Forensic Advisor and Editor-in-Chief for the National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors (NASMHPD), and as the Medical Director of Behavioral Health and Forensic Programs for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services and is the Director of the Program in Psychiatry, Law, & Ethics and Adjunct Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Medical School and Clinical Adjunct Professor at the University of Michigan Law School. She has worked in outpatient, inpatient settings, forensic and correctional facilities, emergency rooms and court clinics, has received public service awards and has been an expert witness in many cases. She is Board Certified in Psychiatry, Forensic Psychiatry, and Addiction Medicine. During her career she has been a clinical policy advisor related to the opioid crisis and has consulted on complex systems cases for people with mental illness, substance use disorder, and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who are receiving treatment or support in various places- such as in community, court, carceral, forensic and state hospital settings.

Dr. Pinals was appointed as the Assistant Commissioner of Forensic Services from 2008 to 2016, overseeing work for persons with serious mental illness at the intersection of police, courts and correctional services, and also was appointed Interim State Medical Director from 2012-2013 for the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health. She teaches and publishes extensively and has led and consulted on numerous federal grants including those related to opioids, co-occurring disorders, juvenile justice, and behavioral health and justice partnerships. Recently she has been a lead subject matter expert on issues pertaining to competence to stand trial for the SAMHSA GAINS Center. She conducts work as an expert witness and subject matter expert across the country. She is a past President of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law, past Chair of the American Psychiatric Association’s Council on Psychiatry and the Law and Council on Advocacy and Government Relations, as well as past Chair of the Forensic Division and current Chair of the Medical Directors Division for NASMHPD. In her work with NASMHPD she has co-authored key policy papers including “Beyond Beds: The Vital Role of a Full Continuum of Psychiatric Care” and “Crisis Services, Meeting Needs, Saving Lives.”


Michigan Court Improvement Program

State Court Administrative Office

Wayne County Court Team

Kathleen Walton Allen: Wayne County Baby Court Referee

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Kathleen Walton Allen, J.D. is a Referee in the Michigan 3rd Judicial Circuit, Court, Juvenile Division. She has been licensed as a Michigan attorney for 38 years and a Juvenile Division Referee for 24 years. Referee Allen is the Wayne County Baby Court jurist. She serves on numerous committees including State Court Administrative Offices Neglect Court Rules, and Court Forms Committee, and the Court Improvement Taskforce, which is charged with improving case practice in child protective proceedings, providing training, and addressing barriers to safety, permanency, and well-being. She is also a member of the Child Welfare Quality Service Review team.

Christie Spudowski: Community Coordinator

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Christie Spudowski is the Wayne County Community Coordinator. Christie holds her LLMSW and is a clinical social worker. Christie started working with infants and young children in early childhood education settings before working with families in the child welfare system. Christie spent seven years working in and supervising family preservation programs aimed at preventing CPS removals. Christie then shifted to Infant Mental Health private practice before accepting her role as the Wayne County Baby Court Community Coordinator. Christie is passionate about working systemically to protect and support early relationships between babies and their caregivers.

For more information about the Michigan Early Childhood Courts, please contact us.