OLYMPIA—Earlier this evening, the House of Representatives unanimously passed House Bill 1194, aimed at strengthening parent-child visitation during child welfare proceedings.
“This bill is about ensuring that bonding takes place between children and their parents during visitations, so really, it is about reuniting families,” said Representative Lillian Ortiz-Self, D-Mukilteo, who prime-sponsored the legislation.
HB 1194 will ensure that families are provided with the visitation and contact necessary to build their relationship and lessens the effects of parent-child separation. By requiring the first visit to occur within 72 hours of the child’s removal from the home, this bill will improve parent-child bonding.
Child safety continues to be the highest priority and supervision levels will be determined carefully, but we know the best predictor of a successful reunification is for parents to be able to visit with their child as soon as possible. It is critical to ensure that visits actually happen, and happen in the most appropriate setting.
“When children are taken from their home and days or weeks go by without seeing their parents, they often worry that they’ve been abandoned, which is traumatic and can result in trusting issues as they get older. This bill can help prevent this unnecessary stress on kids who are already struggling trying to figure out what’s going to happen to them,” Ortiz-Self added.
HB 1194 now goes to the Senate for further consideration.