BILL REQ. #:  H-3348.2 


State of Washington62nd Legislature2012 Regular Session

By Representatives Kagi, Walsh, Pedersen, Orwall, Jinkins, Dickerson, Ryu, Van De Wege, Darneille, and Roberts

Read first time 01/17/12.   Referred to Committee on Judiciary.

     AN ACT Relating to limiting government liability during preshelter care investigations of child abuse or neglect; amending RCW 26.44.010; and adding a new section to chapter 4.24 RCW.


Sec. 1   RCW 26.44.010 and 1999 c 176 s 27 are each amended to read as follows:
     The Washington state legislature finds and declares: The bond between a child and his or her parent, custodian, or guardian is of paramount importance, and any intervention into the life of a child is also an intervention into the life of the parent, custodian, or guardian; however, instances of nonaccidental injury, neglect, death, sexual abuse and cruelty to children by their parents, custodians or guardians have occurred, and in the instance where a child is deprived of his or her right to conditions of minimal nurture, health, and safety, the state is justified in emergency intervention based upon verified information; and therefore the Washington state legislature hereby provides for the reporting of such cases to the appropriate public authorities. It is the intent of the legislature that, as a result of such reports, protective services shall be made available in an effort to prevent further abuses, and to safeguard the general welfare of such children((: PROVIDED, That such)). When the child's interests of basic nurture, physical and mental health, and safety conflict with the parents' interests, the interests of the child should prevail. When determining whether a parent and child should be separated during or immediately following an investigation of alleged child abuse or neglect, the safety of the child shall be the department's paramount concern. Reports of child abuse and neglect shall be maintained and disseminated with strictest regard for the privacy of the subjects of such reports and so as to safeguard against arbitrary, malicious or erroneous information or actions((: PROVIDED FURTHER, That)). This chapter shall not be construed to authorize interference with child-raising practices, including reasonable parental discipline, which are not proved to be injurious to the child's health, welfare and safety.

NEW SECTION.  Sec. 2   A new section is added to chapter 4.24 RCW to read as follows:
     (1) Governmental entities, and their officers, agents, employees, and volunteers, are not liable in tort for acts or omissions in emergent placement investigations of child abuse or neglect under chapter 26.44 RCW unless the investigation was done with gross negligence of whether there was reason to believe the child was in danger of abuse or neglect. Emergent investigations are those conducted pursuant to RCW 26.44.056.
     (2) The department and its employees shall comply with the orders of the court, including shelter care and other dependency orders, and are not liable for acts performed to comply with such court orders. In providing reports and recommendations to the court, caseworkers are entitled to the same witness immunity as would be provided to any other witness.

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