Sen. Steve O’Ban’s effort to bring about swifter intervention in cases of suspected child abuse will come before the Senate Human Services, Mental Health and Housing Committee next week.
Senate Bill 5888, known as “Aiden’s Act,” is scheduled for a public hearing at 10 a.m.Tuesday.
The bill is named 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 Child Protective Services.
“The reforms proposed in ‘Aiden’s Act’ are to ensure that a vulnerable child isn’t lost in the system,” said O’Ban, R- Pierce County. “We know that there was a serious breach of protocol and procedures by CPS that resulted in lifelong disability for a child. That is unacceptable.”
The proposed legislation strengthens state law to ensure that cases of suspected child abuse are immediately reviewed when a social worker decides not to remove a child if additional allegations of abuse are reported. In the Barnum case, Aiden had been admitted to the emergency room on several occasions with serious non-accidental injuries but social workers did not follow procedures to remove the child from the home.
“If there are repeated events that cause medical professionals to believe child abuse has occurred, our state needs to intervene to save that child’s life,” O’Ban said. “This bill provides needed accountability for vulnerable populations who rely on the state to help them. My hope is that requiring timely reporting of near-fatalities and thorough reviews of employee actions will prevent children from being forgotten by the child-protection system.”