Social workers should have consulted police in Washington arson case-report
(Reuters) - Social workers should have consulted with law enforcement before allowing a Washington state man who ultimately killed himself and his two sons by arson to have supervised visits with the boys, a state committee said in a report released on Thursday.
The Child Fatality Review by a Washington state Department of Social and Health Services panel also found that social workers might have done more to explore a history of domestic violence in the family of Josh Powell, whose wife was missing at the time.
Powell, who had recently lost custody of his two sons, 7- year-old Charles and 5-year-old Braden in a custody battle with his missing wife's parents, locked a social worker out of his rental home near Graham, Washington, during a supervised visit in February shortly before a fiery blast ripped through the house.
The committee report said overall work by various professionals involved in the case was "consistent with and sometimes exceeded" accepted standards for child welfare.
"The conduct and interaction of professionals involved in this case demonstrated the highest concern for the children's health, safety and welfare," committee members said.
But the report also found that the December 2009 disappearance of Susan Powell was sufficient to prompt social workers to seek more information about the existence of domestic violence in the family and potential threats to the children.
Powell was considered a person of interest in his wife's disappearance.
"The committee found that, although not required, Children's Administration did not consult with law enforcement officials on the decision to move supervised visits to Mr. Powell's home," the committee said.
Later in the report, it recommended that "in dependency proceedings when there is an active criminal investigation Children's Administration should make concerted efforts to include and consult with the assigned detective prior to making changes in parent/child contact."
(Reporting by Dan Whitcomb; Editing by Peter Cooney)
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