Sen. Pam Roach is holding a press conference on Department of Social and Health Services in the wake of the Josh Powell case. You can watch on the web at tvw.org.
“Our family has had to deal with an overwhelming amount of tragedy in this past two years,” said Chuck Cox, grandfather of the Powell boys, who were killed earlier this month by their father, Josh Powell. Cox said he thinks DSHS is comprised of “good people” but he thinks there are much-needed improvements to the system.
He said his son-in-law’s concerns were always given priority throughout DSHS involvement. He said DSHS aims to reunify children with their biological parents, which seemed “ridiculous” in the case of his grandsons. “We have to do something,” he said, “We are convinced that the flaws in DSHS can be fixed and we’re convinced that the Legislature and the good people — the law abiding citizens — can change these things.”
He said his biggest complaint with the system is the idea that children should always be reunified with their parents.
Sen. Pam Roach said she’s met a lot of people who have been treated unfairly by DSHS. One woman that Roach introduced to the crowd said her son was removed from her home due to false allegations three years ago. She said the allegations were determined to be unfounded, but it hasn’t made a difference. “I’ve not had any visitation for three years.”
Roach outlined bills she wants to get through the Legislature, including one to require that social workers be certified, licensed and bonded similar to police officers.
Cox said another issue was Powell’s lying in court. He said “every allegation” that he could come up with was given credence and DSHS then looked into it. One reporter asked what the state could have done to make sure this didn’t happen. He said one bill proposed by Roach would prevent visitation with parents accused of murder.
Judy Cox said people across the world have reached out in the wake of her grandsons’ deaths. She said the morning of the visit the boys didn’t want to go. She said she considered calling in and saying the boys were sick. “I had a very strong feeling that something bad was going to happen that day … but I had to follow the law, because that’s the right thing to do,” she said, fighting tears.
Roach said looking ahead, the state will have a new governor and hopefully either candidate — Rob McKenna or Jay Inslee — could look at the issue with fresh eyes and come to the conclusion that “any one of these things could have helped,” she said, referring to her list of proposed bills.