New Legislation Proposed to Strengthen Review of Washington Daycare Deaths

Written by: Ken Selander Category: Children's Injuries, Wrongful Death

Child fatalities continue to occur in Washington daycare centers and homes.  When these unthinkable tragedies occur, a close review of the deaths is often absent. State Representative Ruth Kagi recently sponsored legislation mandating review by the Department of Early Learning for every child fatality occurring in Washington’s licensed child care centers or homes.  The legislation was triggered following the death of Eve Uphold, a five month old infant.  Eve died at the same daycare facility where another child fatality occurred in 2001.    

The purpose of the legislation “shall be the development of recommendations to the department and legislation regarding changes in licensing requirements, practice, or policy to prevent fatalities and strengthen safety and health protection for children.”  The recommendations are to be generated by a child fatality review committee comprised of “individuals with appropriate expertise” who possess “knowledge of early learning licensing requirements and program standards.”  Individuals with previous involvement in the case being reviewed are prohibited from serving on the fatality review team. 

The proposed legislation is not limited to child fatalities, but also to a “near child fatality”.  In those cases, the Department of Early Learning “shall consult with the office of the family and children’s ombuds to determine if a review should be conducted.” 

Representative Kagi asserts that fatality reviews in Washington’s foster care system shaped policy changes that strengthened protection of Washington children.  She hopes that the fatality reviews will result in the same protection for children in daycare.  As of last week, the legislation has been passed to the House Rules Committee for a second reading.