Lawmaker Proposes Stronger Child Protection Laws in Washington to Prevent Tragedies Like Ariel Garcia’s

Lawmaker Proposes Stronger Child Protection Laws in Washington to Prevent Tragedies Like Ariel Garcia's

Olympia, Washington – Lawyers say that the death of 4-year-old Ariel Garcia in Everett might have been avoided if laws hadn’t been changed to make it easier for parents who abuse drugs to keep control of their kids.

Representative Travis Couture (R) from District 35 says that a lot of the legislation that was presented this session did not pass. He says that it would have put in place measures to better protect kids.

On March 28, there was a terrible end to the search for Ariel Garcia. His mother is now in jail because she is thought to have stabbed him 16 times. Detectives say that the boy’s grandma tried to get custody of him by telling the court on tape that her daughter had been abusing drugs and alcohol.

Rep. Travis Couture, a Republican, thinks that Ariel might have been helped by rules that protect children better.

Couture, a representative from the 35th District, said, “We don’t want cases like this one with little Ariel, where he was killed and dumped like trash on the side of I-5, like his life didn’t matter.”

Couture thinks the issue began in 2021, when House Bill 1227, the Keeping Families Together Act, was passed. This law made it harder for DCYF to take kids from homes where parents are hooked to drugs. The goal was to stop racial discrimination and keep families together. The law now says that caseworkers can only help if the child is in immediate danger of being hurt physically.

Couture put forward a rebuttable presumption bill last session. This bill would have considered hard drug abuse to be an immediate threat of harm and given parents a chance to react in court.

“What we would have been able to do is more easily remove kids from those dangerous situations,” he added.

He said that lawmakers passed a “watered-down” plan that only dealt with fentanyl instead.

“What that bill did is only for fentanyl and nothing else, no other drugs,” he stated.

The Port Townsend man Jordan Sorensen admitted in January that he hid his baby’s body in the bushes. Couture says that his bill might have also led to an intervention in that case.

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