Monthly Archives: February 2020

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    Cleveland: Bill to prohibit ‘panic defense’ overdue, honors Nikki

Cleveland: Bill to prohibit ‘panic defense’ overdue, honors Nikki

February 26th, 2020|

Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) released this statement today following Senate passage of House Bill 1687, a measure that prohibits defendants from using a victim’s gender identity or sexual orientation to justify violent assaults—a justification sometimes known as the “panic defense.” Because the bill had earlier passed the House, it can now be signed into law by the governor.

“This bill came to the Senate floor today in large part because of the violent and abominable killing of Nikki Kuhnhausen, a young transgender woman from Vancouver, last year. But the tremendous need for the legislation predates Nikki’s tragic death.

“By all accounts, Nikki would be alive today if not for a homophobia-based assault on her life. And, I suspect, so would others who have been similarly victimized.

“Also, by all accounts, Nikki was an uncommonly caring, compassionate and giving young woman. Any loss of life is horrific. But Nikki’s considerable record of befriending others makes her death even more senseless and unfathomable.

“I cannot imagine the grief felt by her family and friends and loved ones. I can only imagine that it must be all-consuming — and know that it falls to us to do whatever we can to prevent such unspeakable atrocities from reoccurring.

“The terrible truth is that vicious assaults have been perpetrated against transgender people, as well as others in the LGBTQ community, for far too long. This bill is a start. It is long overdue, and we must still do more.

“But today, let’s start here. And let’s continue along this path until people like Nikki have the protections they deserve — and the ability to enjoy the same safety and ability to live out their lives as anyone else.”

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For interviews:         Sen. Annette Cleveland, 360-786-7696
For information:       Rick Manugian, Senate Democratic Communications, 360-786-7569

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    Senate passes Cleveland bill to boost safety for in-home caregivers

Senate passes Cleveland bill to boost safety for in-home caregivers

February 17th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would direct state agencies to work with in-home care providers to develop protocols to protect long-term caregivers from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

“Sadly, it took the tragic shootings of a caregiver and a patient and a resident last year to bring attention to this need, but the truth is that caregivers have been facing harassment and discrimination in private home settings for some time,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “These caregivers work in isolated settings, are often women and people of color, and may feel afraid to report abusive behavior for fear of retaliation.”

Senate Bill 6205, sponsored by Cleveland, would:

  • direct the state Department of Social and Health Services to convene a stakeholder work group to recommend best practices for training employers, workers, and service recipients to keep home care settings free from discrimination and abusive conduct;
  • establish boundaries that define abusive conduct, discriminatory harassment, inappropriate sexual behavior, physical sexual aggression, sexual contact, sexual harassment, workplace physical and verbal aggression, and workplace violence;
  • authorize the Department of Labor & Industries to enforce requirements governing worker training, recordkeeping and retaliation; and
  • provide culturally competent peer-to-peer training for caregivers.

“Because they work in homes, caregivers have no coworkers to turn to for advice and have limited options in how to go about reporting inappropriate behavior by a client,” said Cleveland, who chairs the Senate Health & Long Term Care Committee. “This is a critical first step to establish clearer boundaries so that caregivers can better know what to expect, how to deescalate a situation, how and when to report a situation, and what to do if a situation becomes unsafe.”

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 37-11, SB 6205 now goes to the House of Representatives.

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    Senate passes Cleveland bill to improve reporting of child abuse

Senate passes Cleveland bill to improve reporting of child abuse

February 14th, 2020|

Legislation passed today by the Senate would provide a web-based system to improve the reporting of, and response to, cases of child abuse and neglect.

“This will correct a breakdown in our system for reporting child abuse,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “While the state has a system in place to make sure these incidents are reported, backed-up phone lines during peak hours have made it difficult for those entrusted to file the reports to get through.”

Senate Bill 6556, sponsored by Cleveland, would direct the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to develop a web-based reporting portal accessible to those mandated to report child abuse and neglect. The portal must provide a call-back mechanism so callers placed on hold can leave a phone number for DCYF to call back and complete the report. The portal is modeled on a system used successfully by Adult Protective Services that handles 30 percent of all referrals.

As caseloads have increased, DCYF received 125,975 requests for intervention in 2019, leading to longer wait times and more abandoned calls, particularly during peak hours. A review of abandoned calls in May 2019 showed that 26 percent of callers hung up, but DCYF was unable to determine whether callers called back later or never called back.

“As this End Harm Line is a critical means of providing early intervention and support for our children and families, it is imperative that we streamline the process to ensure that we can get help to them more quickly,” Cleveland said.

Having passed the Senate by a vote of 46-0, SB 6556 now goes to the House of Representatives.

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    Cleveland bill would create web-based option for child-abuse reports

Cleveland bill would create web-based option for child-abuse reports

February 4th, 2020|

The state would provide a web-based system to improve the reporting of, and response to, cases of child abuse and neglect, under legislation passed today by the Senate Human Services, Reentry & Rehabilitation Committee.

“With the state’s current limited resources, callers have been left on hold for up to an hour at a time, with alarming frequency,” Sen. Annette Cleveland (D-Vancouver) said. “We have no way of knowing if callers have given up entirely and if child abuse or neglect is being under-reported as a result. Neither of those conditions is acceptable under any circumstances.”

Senate Bill 6556, sponsored by Cleveland, would direct the state Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to develop a web-based reporting portal accessible to those mandated to report child abuse and neglect. The portal must provide a call-back mechanism so callers placed on hold can leave a phone number for DCYF to call back and complete the report.

“Too often, we give our agencies responsibilities that are impossible to meet with limited resources. This bill is aimed at providing direction and support to DCYF in order to address this critical need as a top priority,” Cleveland said. “It’s modeled after an existing system used by Adult Protective Services that handles 30 percent of all referrals and has gotten high marks from staff.”

DCYF received 125,975 requests for intervention in 2019 as caseloads have increased, leading to longer wait times and more abandoned calls, particularly during peak hours. A review of abandoned calls in May 2019 showed that 26 percent of callers hung up, but DCYF was unable to determine whether callers called back later or never called back.