Lawmaker says tougher child protection laws in Washington could help save kids like Ariel Garcia in the future

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A lawmaker says the death of 4-year-old Everett boy Ariel Garcia might have been prevented were it not for a change in legislation that makes it easier for parents with drug abuse issues to keep custody of a child.

Representative Travis Couture, District 35, says that legislation that was introduced this session would have put measures in place to better protect kids, but much of it did not pass. On March 28, the search for Ariel Garcia ended in tragedy. His mother is now behind bars, accused of stabbing him around 16 times. Detectives say his grandmother had been trying to get custody of the 4-year-old, telling court officials in an audio recording that her daughter had been using drugs and alcohol.

Couture proposed a rebuttable presumption bill last session, that would have classified hard drug abuse as imminent harm while allowing parents to respond in court. "What we would have been able to do is more easily remove kids from those dangerous situations," he said. Instead, he said lawmakers passed a "watered-down" bill and only addressed fentanyl. "What that bill did is only for fentanyl and nothing else, no other drugs," he said.


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