Gov. signs the child fatality review bill
April 30, 2009 · Updated 3:34 PM
House Bill 2984, sponsored by Rep. Jan Shabro, R-Lake Tapps, was signed into law March 22 by Gov. Gary Locke.
The bill requires the Department of Social and Health Services to review all deaths of children in the care of child welfare services .
"This is very important legislation and I'm pleased we were able to get it through the process and signed into law," Shabro said. "It's still astounding to me that DSHS wasn't already required to review all child fatality cases. I'm relieved we were able quickly rectify the situation once we realized a there was a problem that needed to be addressed."
HB 2984 requires DSHS to conduct a child fatality review in every case of an unexpected death of a child in the care of child welfare services. Reviews will also be required in cases where a child had received services from child welfare services within one year prior to the death. The reports will be published and the agency is required to make it available to the public upon request.
According to Shabro a recent federal government review of DSHS found Washington inconsistent in responding to child abuse and neglect reports in both "high risk" and "low risk" cases.
"My legislation was especially timely in view of the federal government's recent report which determined that DSHS didn't measure up to federal standards in many areas," said Shabro. "We've brought more accountability to our system, which is always a good thing, but more importantly, we are creating an improved system to help save the lives of vulnerable children."