Proposed Kelsey's Law clears state House committee

Tuesday, February 21st 2006, 12:45 pm
By: News On 6

OKLAHOAM CITY (AP) -- A bill to help state child welfare workers and make judges more accountable moved a step closer to passage Tuesday.

The state House Health and Human Services Committee approved "Kelsey's Law" and sent the bill to the full House for a vote.

The bill is named for 2-year-old Kelsey Smith-Briggs who died last October of blunt force trauma to the stomach even though she was being monitored by welfare workers. Her stepfather, Michael Porter, is charged with first-degree murder in her death.

She died about four months after a judge returned her to her mother and stepfather despite allegations of abuse.

The bill calls for reducing caseloads of child welfare workers and requires judges to explain in public their reasons for child placement rulings. It also allows the Department of Human Services to ask for new hearings on child placement decisions, allows the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation to look into child abuse allegations, and would give parents more information about DHS decisions and records.