Shabro bill requires DSHS to review children's deaths

A bill requiring the Department of Social and Health Services to review all deaths of children in the care of child welfare services was unanimously passed by the Senate the evening of March 2. House Bill 2984, prime sponsored by Rep. Jan Shabro, R- Lake Tapps, is now headed to Gov. Gary Locke's desk for his consideration.

"I'm thrilled we were able to get this important legislation through the process," Shabro said. "I was absolutely stunned to find the law didn't already require DSHS to review all child fatality cases."

Shabro's bill would require 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 would also be required in cases where a child had received services from child welfare services within one year prior to the death. DSHS would be required to publish the report and make it public upon request.

Shabro said 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.

"This legislation is especially important in view of the federal government's recent report which determined that DSHS didn't measure up to federal standards in many areas," Shabro said. "DSHS was inconsistent in the quality of safety assessments of children who are maintained in their own homes, their safety plans were not monitored on an ongoing basis, and two cases were closed without a comprehensive safety assessment even being completed. That's just unacceptable."

The governor has five working days to consider the bill.

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