Proposed ‘Oakley Carlson Act’ aims to improve safety of kids removed from parents’ care

Jan 20, 2023, 5:49 AM | Updated: 6:43 am

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(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

A 6-year-old girl who has been missing for more than a year has inspired a bill that’s been filed in the current legislative session.

House Bill 1397, also known as the Oakley Carlson Act, was written by 19th District Rep. Jim Walsh.

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Walsh’s bill relates to the safety of children who have been removed from a parent based on abuse, neglect, or abandonment.

Investigators say Oakley Carlson was last seen in Oakville on Feb. 10, 2021. She had previously been in foster care and disappeared after she was returned to her biological parents in 2019.

Oakley’s parents, Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers, claim the last time they saw Oakley was Nov. 21, 2021.

Carlson and Bowers were convicted of child endangerment involving another one of their children and have faced other criminal charges. Most recently, Bowers was arrested on identity theft charges immediately after she was released from the Washington Corrections Center for Women on Sunday.

“The fact that this vibrant little girl vanished after being removed from loving foster parents and returned to troubled birth parents raises serious questions about the effectiveness of our state’s child welfare policies and bureaucracies,” Walsh wrote in the bill.

If passed, the act would improve the operation and oversight of Washington’s child welfare system, setting “clear and specific standards for returning young children to birth parents who have lost custody of those children will help reduce the risk of harm befalling those children.”

No charges have been filed regarding Oakley’s disappearance because neither she nor any remains have been found.

The nationwide search for Oakley continues.

Anyone with information about Oakley or her whereabouts is asked to call the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office at 1-360-533-8765 or the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children at 1-800-THE-LOST (843-5678). Those who want to speak to a detective directly may call Detective Sgt. Paul Logan at 1-360-964-1729.

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Proposed ‘Oakley Carlson Act’ aims to improve safety of kids removed from parents’ care