House approves Rep. Dave Hayes’ bill to improve reporting of child abuse and neglect

A bill that seeks to improve mandatory reporting of child abuse and neglect, including sex crimes against children, cleared the House Tuesday, 98-0.

Rep. Dave Hayes, prime-sponsor of House Bill 1931, says Washington’s mandatory reporting laws require people in certain professions to report suspected child abuse and/or neglect to the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) or law enforcement. Mandatory reporters include: practitioners, medical examiners, law enforcement officers, professional school personnel, registered or licensed nurses, social service counselors, psychologists, pharmacists, licensed or certified child care providers, DSHS employees, among others. (See the list here.)

Hayes says some individuals have not been completely aware of their responsibilities under the state’s mandated reporter laws, putting children at risk of continued abuse. His measure would require DSHS make available on its website a downloadable, printable 8.5 x 11 inches poster that clearly includes requirements for mandated reporters of child abuse and neglect.

“Over the past couple of years, I’ve been hearing from some of our detectives across the state who investigate crimes against children that some of these crimes are going unreported by mandatory reporters,” said Hayes, R-Camano Island. “This is a very simple bill that would ensure children who have suffered abuse are not victimized in the future.”

Hayes says some mandatory reporters had knowledge of child sex crimes, but were unclear whether it was their responsibility to report the incidents. The bill would require the poster to be clearly displayed in a common area of offices where mandatory reporters work.

“We believe if people subject to the reporting laws have a clearer understanding of their responsibilities, it would help reduce child abuse and neglect, and could save children’s lives,” added Hayes, assistant ranking member of the House Public Safety Committee.

The measure goes to the Senate for further consideration.


Washington State House Republican Communications