In a guest opinion on Jan. 4, Jennifer Strus, assistant secretary, Children’s Administration, Washington Department of Social and Health Services, wrote that a new program will protect children from child abuse and neglect.
At the same time, DSHS has refused to join a lawsuit in the state Supreme Court to support the immunity available to those who in good faith report child abuse. In the case, a “mandatory reporter,” a Spokane psychiatrist, reported in good faith what was believed to be child abuse to Child Protective Service, a division of DSHS, so there could be an investigation by experts as provided by law. Instead, in a lawsuit a judge refused to honor the immunity and the jury found against the psychiatrist.
The law clearly gives immunity to mandatory reporters, because the state wants reports to be made, even though eventually it may be determined abuse did not occur. The importance is that the reports be made so an investigation can occur. If the case is not heard by the Supreme Court, I believe that fewer reports will be made and kids will suffer.
Too bad the state has chosen not to back up its words with actions.