Washington State’s Drug-Baby Policy Draws Criticism

(TargetDailyNews.com) – Critics believe that a new policy in Washington State no longer requiring hospitals to report mothers whose babies are born addicted to drugs to Child Protective Services will put newborns in danger, Fox News reported.

In June, Washington State’s Department of Health announced the new policy, which it said will keep children safe while avoiding unnecessarily breaking up families. Washington hospitals have until January 1st, 2025, to comply with the new policy.

Previously, hospitals were required to report any newborn exposed to drugs and alcohol during pregnancy to Child Protective Services. With the new policy, a family that does not pose an “imminent risk of serious harm” to the infant will receive what the Department of Health describes as “voluntary wrap-around services” instead of being reported.

According to Barbara Drennen, the founder of the Pediatric Interim Care Center near Seattle, babies born to drug addicts typically have between two to five different drugs in their system at birth.

The Pediatric Interim Care Center, which was established in 1990, has provided safe haven and withdrawal care to over 3,000 infants sent by the state’s Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF).

Drennen told Fox News that she is concerned that the state’s new policy will endanger newborns by putting them in “a very dangerous position.” She explained that it isn’t always the case that the drug-addicted mother will get clean and be able to take care of the child.

However, DCYF early learning program manager Alissa Copeland told Fox that the new policy does not change the “types of circumstances” in which drug-addicted infants are reported. She said the “biggest change” is that families who don’t necessarily meet the threshold for “imminent risk of serious harm” will now receive a “voluntary community pathway” that was previously unavailable to them.

According to the Department of Health, the policy change is designed to encourage mothers to pursue services to get clean without the fear of Child Protective Services getting involved.

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