‘Aiden’s Act’ now law

O’Ban says reform will better protect children when abuse is suspected

Sen. Steve O’Ban’s effort to bring about swifter government intervention in cases of suspected child abuse culminated Monday with the signing of “Aiden’s Act.”

O’Ban, chair of the Senate human-services committee, named the law created by Senate Bill 5888 for Aiden Barnum, a Port Orchard child who was severely abused during infancy and is now permanently disabled, due to mishandling of his case by the state’s Child Protective Services agency. It’s aimed at ensuring cases of suspected child abuse are immediately reviewed when a social worker decides not to remove a child from the home, even though additional allegations of abuse are reported.

“Our state has seen too many incidences of vulnerable people, whom the state should have protected, fall through the cracks,” said O’Ban, R-Pierce County. “Aiden’s Act is about creating better accountability to prevent the kind of avoidable tragedy that Aiden suffered. I believe that this reform will mean better outcomes when suspected cases of child abuse are reported and the state can more quickly intervene when necessary.”

In the Barnum case, Aiden had been admitted to the emergency room with serious non-accidental injuries but social workers did not follow procedures to remove the child from the home. “Aiden’s Act” creates clear requirements for case workers to report and oversight by supervisors to review cases of suspected child abuse when the child is not removed.

“Timing is critical in these situations. Having a system of accountability that is efficient and thorough can make a difference in child abuse case,” O’Ban said. “I’m thankful that the Barnum family has been so willing to share their story and help us make the child-protection system work better for all children in our state.”