Sen. Steve O’Ban’s effort to bring about swifter intervention in cases of suspected child abuse was approved Thursday by the Senate. Senate Bill 5888, known as “Aiden’s Act,” is named for Aiden Barnum, a Port Orchard child who was severely abused, twice, during infancy and is now permanently disabled, due to mishandling of his case by Child Protective Services.
“The tragic case that inspired this law is something that should never be repeated,” said O’Ban, R- Pierce County. “The system failed and this reform will reduce the likelihood that another child will be harmed like Aiden.”
The bill ensures 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 was admitted to the emergency room and nearly a dozen medical personnel concluded he had been physically abused. But because a non-treating doctor reviewed the file and believed he may not have been abused, Aiden was returned. Four weeks later his biological father severely beat him and Aiden was permanently disabled.
“I am working to ensure that our state does its job protecting the most vulnerable in our communities,” O’Ban said.