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Washington Lawmakers Look To Keep Families Together As Part Of Foster Care Reform


By Allegra Abramo |

Poverty, disability, homelessness wouldn’t qualify as sole reason to take kids away

With tears in her eyes, Karen Osborne recalled the day in 2014 when police showed up to take away her 6-week-old daughter. Osborne hadn’t been accused of abuse nor neglect. Instead, social workers were concerned about Osborne’s “mental capacity.” They had already removed seven of Osborne’s previous children and made plans to remove her new baby before she was even born.

Social workers and a doctor who examined the baby didn’t find any evidence that the child was maltreated, according to case notes obtained by Disability Rights Washington. Rather than actual observations of Osborne’s parenting skills, state officials deemed her unfit to parent based on IQ tests. They moved to terminate her parental rights 18 months after removing the child, before Osborne had even completed parenting classes required by the state.

“I desperately want the laws to be changed,” Osborne said. “Instead of taking the kids away, give families the services they need. What they are doing is causing more trauma for the kids, especially.”

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