Sen. Steve O’Ban’s effort to bring about swifter intervention in cases of suspected child abuse are one step closer to becoming law. Senate Bill 5888, known as “Aiden’s Act” was unanimously approved by the House of Representatives Wednesday. 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 events that led up to Aiden’s case were a result of a serious breach of protocol and procedures by CPS that resulted in lifelong disability for a child. That is unacceptable. 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.”
The measure 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 with serious non-accidental injuries but social workers did not follow procedures to remove the child from the home.
“This bill provides needed accountability when cases of child abuses fall through the cracks,” said O’Ban. “Requiring timely reporting of near-fatalities and thorough reviews of employee actions will prevent children from being forgotten by the child-protection system. 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.”
The bill will now move to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.