Truth Be Told

Costs of Western State Hospital reform continue to climb

Summary: KCPQ aired a story May 22 about the costs related to improvements at Western State Hospital (WSH) as part of a Systems Improvement Agreement with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

In the story, reporter Jonathan Humbert claims that two sources independently said, “… a lot of salaries are going to middle management although signing bonuses are dangling for nurses and psychiatry staff recruitment.”

 

Truth Be Told:

From March, 2016 to March, 2017, DSHS hired 362 new team members at WSH. Of the 362 hires, more than 87 percent have been general service positions, while fewer than 13 percent are in Washington Management Service or what is commonly referred to as middle management.

Additionally, an increase of over 80 nurses has been a major factor in the overhauling of the hospital and improving patient care. The addition of 78 institution counselors at the facility means that for the first time in many years, active treatment targets for every ward have been met. This means engaging patients for better treatment outcomes and a higher rate of successful returns home to their community.

Increased custodial staff to work at the hospital 24/7 has improved the environment of care, and maintenance staff has been able to make thousands of improvements to the buildings of the hospital and the surrounding grounds.

As mentioned in the story, WSH continues struggling to hire psychiatrists but this is not a Western State Hospital issue – this is a nationwide problem because there is a shortage of psychiatrists in the United States coupled with an increase of patients who are in need of psychiatric services. 

Original story: http://q13fox.com/2017/05/22/costs-of-western-state-hospital-reform-continue-to-climb/

Reporter: Jonathan Humbert, KCPQ – Q13 Fox News


Allegations of staff misconduct at Western State Hospital

November 4, 2016

Summary: In an attempt to get a news story out before all the facts are gathered, news media on Nov. 2 issued a story about Western State Hospital that was taken out of context and made inaccurate assumptions about allegations of patient abuse.

Stories by the Associated Press and KOMO TV took the hospital to task for not properly notifying law enforcement when an allegation of patient abuse was reported.

Truth Be Told: In reality immediate action was taken to protect WSH patients. Western State Hospital followed hospital protocols and laws related to law enforcement notification regarding an alleged incident involving a staff member and patient at the hospital.

On Oct. 3 an allegation was made to WSH that an employee had photographs of a hospital patient. The allegation was made by the employee’s fiancée, who claimed she had the staff member’s phone with the photographs. She was unable to provide copies of the photographs or to let hospital staff view the photos. That same day, though there was not yet evidence to substantiate the allegation, WSH immediately reassigned the staff member to a position with no patient involvement. He resigned from the hospital later that day.

WSH sought to gather more information to determine whether there was any merit to the allegation, including conducting an interview with the alleged involved patient who denied any such incident with staff. WSH made multiple attempts, but was not able to obtain the phone or copies of the photos.

The issue of the photo allegation was discussed at two weekly meetings (Oct. 11 and 18) between the hospital and Lakewood Police Department (LPD). During both of those meetings LPD, per official protocol, advised that there was insufficient evidence for law enforcement to investigate at that time.

The hospital has an agreement with LPD that WSH will review incidents to establish the merit of allegations before referring to LPD for criminal investigation. In this instance, there was no tangible evidence to present to LPD, such as the photographs or interviewee information, to back up the allegation that a crime had been committed.

According to state law, “When any practitioner, social worker, psychologist, pharmacist, employee of a state hospital, or employee of the department has reasonable cause to believe that a state hospital patient has suffered abuse or neglect, the person shall report such incident, or cause a report to be made, to either a law enforcement agency or to the department as provided in RCW 70.124.040.” The department complied with these requirements.

Lakewood PD did accept the case on Oct. 24, and will conduct a thorough investigation.

WSH and LPD work closely to ensure proper notification on legitimate allegations. Law enforcement notification was done timely and appropriately based on the allegations and the lack of evidence.

Original Stories: Psychiatric hospital investigated over photos of patientWestern State Hospital delayed alerting police to alleged staff misconduct

Reporters: Martha Bellisle, Jon Humbert


Newly placed sex offender faced eviction threat

October 31, 2016

Summary: KXLY aired a story about recently released sex offender David McCuistion, who was placed on Less Restrictive Alternative (LRA) in Spokane in early October.

LRA is an alternative to detention at the Special Commitment Center (SCC) on McNeil Island. Offenders are closely monitored by the Department of Corrections and required to abide by the conditions set forth by the judge who placed them in the Less Restrictive Alternative. Violations result in their return to the SCC.

Earlier in October, the landlord at McCuistion’s apartment threatened to evict him, but later rescinded the eviction notice. The story states, “Despite this fact, the Department of Social and Health Services, which oversees the SCC, did not know about the eviction notice. In fact, we uncovered a lack of paperwork on many facets of the sexually violent predator program, including the fact that the state does not maintain a list of released offenders and does not track to which county they’ve been released.”

Truth Be Told: DSHS was aware of the eviction notice and that it had been rescinded and relayed that information to the reporter.

DSHS does track when offenders are released and where they are released to. That information is compiled in ‘Resident Rosters.’ The agency is in the process of redacting confidential information from those rosters as part of fulfilling a records request from KXLY.

Original story: Newly placed sex offender faced eviction threat

Reporter: Melissa Luck, KXLY


Policy changes coming after wheelchair-bound man nearly drowns

October 4, 2016

Summary: KOMO news aired a story about a DSHS client who nearly drowned during an outing for residents of Rainier School in Buckley, WA, to nearby Alder Lake.

Truth Be Told:

KOMO news aired on Monday, Oct. 3 about a former resident of Rainier School who nearly drowned in August. Although the story is accurate that there was an incident where a client fell into the water and had to be pulled to safety during a fishing trip to Alder Lake, several inaccuracies within the story need to be addressed.

Residents who receive services in the state’s four RHCs often go on planned community outings and have activities scheduled during the week as part of their active treatment plans. Ensuring that residents are able to interact within the communities where they live is important in empowering them to live the lives they want to live.

At the beginning of the story, anchor Eric Johnson says the story contains, “never-reported details.” In fact, DSHS, in an effort to be transparent, issued a press release regarding the incident and the Immediate Jeopardy (IJ) that was issued to Rainier School’s PAT E as a result. PAT E is a section of the facility that serves approximately 110 of the roughly 370 clients who reside at Rainier School. An IJ meant that Rainier School had to issue a Plan of Correction, which had to be accepted so the facility didn’t lose a portion of its federal funding. Had it not been abated, the IJ would have meant a loss of around $12 million a year in federal funding, not the $33 million noted in the story.

The story mentions that the client cannot speak for himself so his parents are telling the story of what happened that day for him. The guardians were not there so they are only able to depict what happened that day based on reports they were given by staff and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office.

In the story, the KOMO reporter references this client as having the “mind of a toddler.” This isn’t people-first language and is offensive to many in the ID/DD community.

The story talks about how the client was under water between “three and six minutes” and that staff “eventually” jumped in to save them. We are unaware of where six minutes was ever mentioned. The client, based on all reports, was under water between one and three minutes and staff immediately dived in to rescue him.

The story mentioned that the client was coughing up blood. According to page five of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office incident report, it was one of the Rainier School staff members coughing up blood after the rescue – not the client.

The KOMO story said, "As DSHS sees it, there is nothing wrong with a disabled person sitting on a dock while locked inside a wheelchair." In fact, Assistant Secretary of the Developmental Disabilities Administration, Evelyn Perez (whose title was misidentified in the story as manager), mentioned several new protocols/requirements for outings near water such  as railings on docks. Ms. Perez told the reporter that a client in a wheelchair would wear a life preserver and would not be strapped into their chair. She also mentioned that the staffing would be assessed according to the needs of the individual on these outings. She never stated that requiring life jackets for clients was the only change to protocols regarding outings near water. If that were the only plan of correction, the Immediate Jeopardy would never have been lifted by the federal government.

The story states that Rainier School is located in Lacey. It is, in fact, located in Buckley. KOMO has since fixed the written version of this story online but the video version is incorrect.

At the end of the story, KOMO states that a judge ruled that this client “never return to Rainier School.” As explained in emails to this reporter prior to the story airing, DDA services are voluntary. Individuals and/or their guardians have say over where they live. The agency would never mandate a client had to live at any of the state’s four Residential Habilitation Centers (RHCs).

In the end, we are so thankful that between our staff and the bystander who helped, this young man was able to be pulled to safety that day. We took action immediately and made changes to protocols because protecting our residents is a role we take very seriously.

Original Story: Policy changes coming after wheelchair-bound man nearly drowns

Publisher: KOMO News

Reporter: Jon Humbert


Misinterpretation of data in Associated Press story regarding contempt of court fines issued in federal court

July 21, 2016

Summary: The Associated Press story posted July 20, and running subsequently in media outlets includes an incorrect interpretation of data supplied to the court by the state Department of Social and Health Services.  The AP story states:

“But the state’s own report filed with the court on July 15 reveals that hundreds of mentally ill people are still waiting for competency services.”

“Pechman’s contempt order required the state to provide weekly tallies of the wait times at both hospitals so the fines could be calculated.”

“Thomas Kinlen, the director of the Office of Forensic Mental Health Services, filed a breakdown of cases. It showed that 219 mentally ill people were waiting for competency services as of July 14. Eleven were at Eastern and 208 at Western, his report said.”

Truth Be Told:

  • The 219 number does not represent individual people waiting for services, but represents the total number of individual daily fines that occurred during July 8 through 14.

  • The federal court order required DSHS to demonstrate all calculations done in order to determine the daily and total fines, so the same people appear in the data count over and over again on each individual day. For example, on July 14, there were 27 people waiting for competency services and the daily fine was $23,000. Of those 27 people, 26 were the same people who were waiting on July 13 and appear in the calculation for a fine of $22,500 that day.

  • Instead of 219 people waiting for services on July 14, there were 27 who met the court’s requirement for fines, but the number of daily fines accumulated for the week of July 8 through 14 totaled 219.

Original Story: Washington in trouble again for mental-health services; judge issues fine

Publisher: Associated Press

Reporter: Martha Bellisle


Dozens escaped from mental hospital since 2013

May 3, 2016

Summary: Associated Press erroneously reported number of escapes from Western State Hospital.

Truth Be Told: If you are following the media you may be confused on how two different stories on the same subject can be so vastly different from one another. On April 22, 2016, the Tacoma News Tribune ran the story, “Regular, but fewer, walkaways at Western State,” on how walkaways by patients at Western State Hospital are a normal occurrence, but they are fewer than in 2014. Former TNT reporter, Jordan Schrader, explained in the story that allowing patients to gradually integrate back into the community was an important part of treatment.  Schrader spoke to neighbors of the hospital and learned that they aren't "too worried," about patients of the hospital.  The Lakewood Police Department explained why they don't publicize every walkaway because as chief John Unfred said, "If we yell every time somebody walks away, when we yell when a dangerous person escapes, nobody's going to pay attention."

A much different version of this topic appeared in the May 3, 2016 AP story, “Dozens escaped from mental hospital since 2013,” by Martha Bellisle. The "exclusive" story by Bellisle talked about 185 instances in which patients have escaped or walked away in just over three years. The story claims that from the start of 2013 to late April this year, there were 71 "AWOL" patients, 43 escapes, 70 missing persons and one unauthorized leave. DSHS considers patients who have some sort of privileges either within the grounds or off grounds, who leave without permission or who don't arrive back at the hospital when they are required to as being "UL" or on unauthorized leave. Patients who are not given privileges who leave the hospital are considered "escapes." This is what occurred April 6 when two patients on a locked ward, left the hospital campus through a window in their room. These patients had no off-grounds or grounds privileges,  and that is why media was alerted that they were gone. According to Assistant Chief John Unfred from Lakewood PD, he spoke with Bellisle and explained to her that there should only be two classifications for patients from Western State Hospital. These classifications would be either "escape" or "unauthorized leave," however, sometimes, based on how information is entered or given, there have been other terms associated with unauthorized leave such as missing person, AWOL.  Patients who are on unauthorized leave have also been mistakenly referred to as escapes.  This is something that Lakewood PD is working on. Assistant Chief Unfred told Bellisle that a vast number of what was in the public disclosure request were indeed walkaways and that escapes are rare. Although Bellisle was given this explanation, she chose to still misrepresent the numbers in her story.  The story also seemed to portray a frustration from Lakewood PD towards Western State Hospital.

Today, Lakewood Police Chief Mike Zaro issued this statement saying, “We understand the State is dealing with many complex issues at WSH. We are encouraged by their refocusing of efforts towards measures that will improve safety for both the patients and the community. We look forward to the opportunity to be a resource for the state in these efforts and are confident improvements can be made that will meet the interests of all those affected by WSH.”

We appreciate the partnership with the Lakewood Police Department. They, like DSHS, want to make sure that the recovery needs of patients are met while still keeping everyone, including patients and staff at Western State Hospital, safe.

Original Story: Dozens escaped from mental hospital since 2013

Publisher: Associated Press

Reporter: Martha Bellisle


Judge orders state to fix mental health facility

April 11, 2016

Summary: Associated Press erroneously reported that a federal judge ordered DSHS to stop sending mentally ill defendants to a treatment facility in Yakima.

Truth Be Told: On April 11, 2016, the Associated Press incorrectly reported in the lead paragraph of the story that a U.S. District Court judge prohibited the Department of Social and Health Services from sending mentally ill defendants to the Yakima Residential Treatment Facility to restore their competency to stand trial. Further, an attorney with Disability Rights Washington is quoted as saying, “They [DSHS] are shut down until the risks are addressed.” This is not accurate.

In fact, U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman did not enjoin operation of the facility; rather, she said she would issue a “modified restraining order.” The judge stopped admissions to second-floor rooms until the stairwell is made safe. Additionally, the seclusion and restraint room cannot be used until the door grate is made safe. Meanwhile, patients continue to reside in and be sent for treatment on the facility’s other floor. Update 3 p.m. 4/11/16: The AP story was updated to reflect the corrections noted above.

Original Story: Judge orders state to fix mental health facility

Publisher: Associated Press

Reporter: Martha Bellisle


Western State Hospital given more time for reforms

March 29, 2016

Summary: KOMO reported that the Centers for Medicaid Services extended Western State Hospital's deadline to repair problems that have put the facility at risk of losing federal funding.

Truth Be Told: On Tuesday, March 29, KOMO TV reported about an extension given to Western State Hospital for the facility to repair problems that have put the hospital at risk for losing federal funding. Within the story, KOMO also reported on five cases of swine flu at Western State Hospital. The report included a confusing statement: " ... staff sources say infection control concerns may have played a role in safety for the staff and patients in the affected ward."

For the sake of accuracy, DSHS stands behind the excellent work by staff in infection control practices that contained the spread of the flu to four patients and one staff all within one ward of the 800-bed hospital. 

The state's epidemiologist Dr. Scott Lindquist said, "What Western State Hospital did, from a public health aspect, is great work. They notified local public health, treated the sick and did what they could to stop further illness from occurring. The whole state of Washington is experiencing clusters of influenza in different types of facilities, so the fact that only five people have gotten the flu in this facility speaks to the good work they've done."

Original Story:

Western State Hospital given more time for reforms

Publisher: KOMO News

Reporter: Jon Humbert


Lawyers: Yakima jail unsafe for mental patients

March 18th, 2016

Summary: KOMO reported on a temporary restraining order request filed on Thursday asking DSHS to stop using a Yakima jail facility for evaluations for behavioral health clients.

Truth Be Told:

A March 18th KOMO TV news report inaccurately confused competency evaluations with competency restoration services in its story about plaintiffs in the Trueblood lawsuit petitioning the court for a temporary restraining order against DSHS sending criminal defendants determined to be mentally ill to the Yakima Competency Restoration Center. The focus of the center is to provide restoration services to defendants who have already been determined  incompetent to stand trial and participate in their own defense.

“DSHS has worked closely with Comprehensive Mental Health, a respected, local provider of behavioral health services, to build a high quality, therapeutic competency restoration treatment program in Yakima.   This program moves defendants out of jails and into appropriate treatment as required in the Trueblood court order,” said Carla Reyes, assistant secretary, DSHS Behavioral Health Administration.   

Original Stories:

Lawyers: Yakima jail unsafe for mental patients

Publisher: KOMO News

Reporter: Jon Humbert


Insiders Speak about Toxic Environment at Western State Hospital

February 23, 2016

Summary: This story highlighted emails among Western State Hospital staff discussing retaliation and corrective actions.

Truth Be Told:

Unfortunately, only sections of the email thread were used in the story.

A few staff members appear to want the hospital to fail at its attempt to put together a successful corrective action plan that addresses concerns found in recent surveys conducted by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

We thought it important to share this so that the proper context could be provided regarding this dialogue.

See entire email thread.

Original Story:

Insiders Speak about Toxic Environment at Western State Hospital

Publisher: KOMO TV 

Reporter: Jon Humbert


Mother of Western State patient: 'I want to see my son, I want to know he's healthy

December 29, 2015

Summary: KOMO TV aired a story about a patient at Western State Hospital, who was arrested for assault while on release for a medical appointment. 

Truth Be Told:

In the on-line version of the story, the patient’s Mother asked, "What's happening? What happened to my son? Why isn't he here? How come nobody called me?" Additionally, photos used in the on-line version appear to show a teen boy. Western and Eastern state psychiatric hospitals serve only adult clients.

DSHS shared the following information with KOMO before the story ran:

“These are adult patients who, unless they need a guardian to help make decisions for them, have the right to refuse the sharing of information about their status even with family members.  

“At WSH, there are phones for patient access on all treatment units, and patients can send and receive mail.  WSH also allows families to visit their loved ones, and many patients to go on authorized leaves with families.  These services are individualized for each patient, and may be impacted by important factors such as the patient’s current health, legal, or safety status.

“For patients who indicate they would like designated family members to be more involved with their treatment, these family members often participate in treatment conferences with their loved ones and the staff providing direct care.  They also are intimately involved in discharge planning.

“If a patient has a guardian, that person would be contacted regarding the transfer of the patient or a significant change in clinical status, by the patient’s social worker.

“Similarly, if a patient has signed a release of information for next of kin and wants to share information with that person about transfers or significant changes in clinical status, the social worker would contact this individual.  However, many patients choose not to allow the hospital to have contact with family and do not sign such a release.

“Family members can contact social workers to relay information and ask to be included in treatment services for their loved ones. However, it remains the discretion of the patients as to what information can be shared with family members.”

In the story, the reporter mentions that even, “basic information about what happens inside Western is tough to come by.” This is true. We cannot and will not break client confidentiality or federal privacy laws regarding patients at our facilities. 

Original Story:

Mother of Western State patient: 'I want to see my son, I want to know he's healthy

Publisher: KOMO TV 

Reporter: Jon Humbert


Washington state’s center for sexual predators under fire

November 4, 2015

Summary: The reporter took a tour of the Special Commitment Center on McNeil Island, and chronicled the challenges faced by the SCC when it comes to treating sexually violent predators with severe mental disabilities.

Truth Be Told:

The article states that, “Residents pace behind locked doors and glass walls, speak to staff through intercoms and get meals in their rooms.” In reality, residents have liberal access to the unit’s common area, have face-to-face interaction with staff members on and off the unit and are permitted to eat in the facility dining room, if they choose. Many prefer to eat in the common area of their unit, not their rooms, and it is voluntary.

The piece also contends, “As punishment for infractions, some residents are locked in their rooms for weeks or months.” Residents may be restricted to their rooms (not locked in their rooms) for personal safety or the safety of other residents. At other times, residents may be restricted for a very limited period as one possible intervention for de-escalating the resident’s at risk behavior. Room restriction is rarely used and, over the course of the last eleven months, the Intensive Management Unit has been used less than 20 hours, total, for 30 residents. The article cites very dated information.

Original Stories:

Washington state’s center for sexual predators under fire

Publisher: Associated Press 

Reporter: Martha Bellisle


Patient attacked at Washington hospital as US funds at risk

October 15, 2015

Summary: Stories regarding an assault October 12 involving two patients at the Department of Social and Health Services’ Western State Hospital incorrectly reported the assault involved “a deadly weapon.”  

Truth Be Told:

No deadly weapon was used in the assault. The stories were based on an on-line crime map on the Lakewood Police Department’s web site, rather than on information directly from law enforcement.  

A reporter for KOMO TV made no attempt to confirm the deadly weapon reference with DSHS before running the story, but after DSHS contacted KOMO, a later version of the story included a comment from DSHS correctly noting that no weapon was used.

The Associated Press repeated the deadly weapon allegation in its story on the assault, but removed that reference from its story once DSHS and the Lakewood Police Department pointed out the error.

Original Stories:

Another attack at Western State during fed investigation

Publisher: KOMO News

Reporter: John Humbert

Patient attacked as Western State Hospital faces possible funding cuts

Publisher: Associated Press 

Reporter: Martha Bellisle


Developmentally Disabled Teen Accused in Violent Attack

July 10, 2015

Summary: A report on an incident at the Department of Social and Health Services’ Rainier School stated: “School administrators denied our request for an interview.”

Truth Be Told:

DSHS declined to do the interview based on state and federal confidentiality laws, which was explained to the reporter. Here is the full text of the statement sent to the reporter. The news report did not use the last sentence of the statement.

“Law enforcement is investigating this incident. Information also was reported to the Department of Social and Health Services Residential Care Services, which is responsible for the certification and oversight of intermediate care facilities such as Rainier. RCS will investigate as well.

 State and federal confidentiality laws prohibit us from releasing resident information.”

Original Story

Publisher: KOMO News

Reporter: Kara Kostanich


Audit criticizes DSHS software that 'ages out' fraud tips

June 29, 2015

Summary: A reporter highlighted in his story a Washington State Auditor’s Office performance audit on the Department of Social and Health Services Office of Fraud and Accountability (OFA).  The story states the audit “criticizes DSHS software that 'ages out' or deletes fraud tips” from DSHS caseworkers after 90 days and notes that OFA has made improvements, “but there’s still room for a lot more improvement.”

Truth Be Told:

Tips are not deleted after 90 days. The verbatim language in the audit report is: “… OFA’s Fraud Case Management System … automatically closes early detection referrals after 90 days and sends them back to caseworkers if they have not been assigned to an investigator.”

Caseworkers then may submit another referral if they believe the issue leading to the referral continues. Tips do not “disappear.”

It is important to note that, in fact, the audit does not fault the computer software referenced and makes no recommendations regarding changes to the software. It does make a recommendation that DSHS hire more investigators to help eliminate backlogs and to perform investigations before the 90 days to prevent re-referral.

The story also restated a previous, erroneous claim that DSHS “purged nearly 5,000 tips of possible fraud,” implying they were never reviewed. As the audit report states, these referrals were not purged or deleted, but sent back to caseworkers, primarily because they were old, for a review and resubmittal if the issue in question still existed.  If the case was referred to OFA, it was given a score indicating a high potential for fraud.

Regarding improvements, the audit recognizes three specific areas in which OFA has made significant improvements.

SAO Recognition 1: The backlog of early detection referrals has diminished, due in part to a systematic “aging-out” process for older referrals.

SAO Recognition 2: OFA has made improvements since 2012 to ensure the highest-priority cases are investigated.

SAO Recognition 3: The early detection prioritization tool appropriately scores referrals based on risk.

Here is a link to the full audit report, which includes the verbatim recognitions, recommendations and responses.

Original Story 

Publisher: KING 5 News

Reporter: Chris Ingalls


Audit Shows EBT Benefits Not Going to Deceased

January 28, 2015

Summary:  Investigative reporter last May used preliminary internal State Auditor’s Office (SAO) working papers to conclude that the Department of Social and Health Services was issuing nearly $500,000 in Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) benefits to as many as 1,700 recipients after they died.

Truth Be Told:

  • The final Auditor’s report issued in November found no incidents in which household members used Social Security numbers of deceased people to fraudulently obtain benefits.
  • The SAO noted U.S. Department of Agriculture’s praise of Washington’s EBT card monitoring system as “exemplary.”

Publisher: KING 5 News

Reporter: Chris Ingalls


CPS Sets Record Straight on 20/20 Story About Marijuana Use in Private Homes

January 17th, 2015

Summary:  A segment that recently appeared on the ABC program 20/20, “Washington Parents Using Marijuana Accused of Child Abuse,” did not report information on the Department of Social and Health Services’ Children’s Administration position on the use of marijuana in private homes.

Truth Be Told:

This is the statement we sent to 20/20 regarding this issue. Unfortunately, the program chose not to use it.

“The safety and well-being of children is the paramount focus of the Department of Social and Health Services Children’s Administration.  When the initiative passed that legalized marijuana in Washington State, we determined that we would not enact Child Protective Services policies specific to the substance, just as we do not have policies specific to alcohol use. When we receive allegations of child neglect or abuse involving any substance, we look at the use in the home along with all other factors that might affect the safety of the child. We make determinations on any actions we might take related to the family and the child based on all of those factors.”

20/20 also incorrectly inferred that Child Protective Services “took” the child from the family. Any decision on the placement of children outside the home is made by a court.

Original Article: Washington Parents Using Marijuana Accused of Child Abuse

Publisher: ABC News, 20/20

Reporter: Tom Berman, Harry Phillips and Alexa Valiente


Children Are Not Removed From Their Home Due To Breastfeeding Or Home Birth

December 15th, 2014

Summary:  Some news reports have stated, or implied, that Child Protective Services removed children from their parents due to breastfeeding and home birth.

Truth Be Told:

  • Courts, not CPS, make a decision on whether children will be removed from their homes.
  • Neither breastfeeding nor home birth is a factor that would cause children to be taken from a home. Their removal from the home was based on factors unrelated to a home birth or breastfeeding.

Original Article: Judge Returns Kids to Bellingham Parents

Publisher: KING 5 News

Reporter: Alison Morrow