Lowry, legislators announce symposium on Child Protective Services

OLYMPIA - Gov. Mike Lowry and leaders of the Washington Legislature today announced they will hold a two-day symposium to discuss possible changes to the state's Child Protective Services (CPS) system on June 10-11 at the Tacoma Sheraton Hotel.

Lowry, Senate Majority Leader Sid Snyder and House Speaker Clyde Ballard will co-sponsor the event, titled "New Directions in Child Protective Services." The program will feature nationally recognized speakers on child protection issues and workshops dealing with children in state care. Among the 150 invited participants are legislators, health care experts, child advocates, CPS social workers and CPS-involved parents, and representatives of business, labor and the media.

"This will be an educational experience for everyone involved," said Lowry. "Because we've been engaged in a sensitive debate over Washington's child protection system, we have failed to see that CPS is under attack in many states. Our hope at this symposium is to put our state's system in a national context and work through open discussions to improve the protection of children in Washington."

CPS is a division of the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS) which receives and investigates allegations of child abuse and neglect. If CPS finds that the allegations are substantiated, the division may offer family services, such as parenting classes, counseling or substance abuse treatment, or CPS may seek a court order to move the child into a safer environment.

Following the two-day event, areas of consensus and disagreement among symposium participants will be identified and used to develop specific recommendations for the 1997 Legislature.

"This will be a forum to gather information on how child protective services have been reformed around the country and how those changes might apply to our own state," said Rep. Suzette Cooke, R-Kent. "There is so much to gain by tackling these issues head on rather than backing into a wrong solution."

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For more information, contact the Governor's Communications Office at 360-753-6790.