Submitted by Washington House Democrats.
Pierce County has long been the home to many facilities treating individuals with behavioral health conditions, including those accused or even convicted of crimes. Reps. Christine Kilduff, D-University Place, and Mari Leavitt, D-University Place, have identified key areas to address community concerns that ensure proper operating conditions for facilities, treatment options for residents, and review of how community-based facilities are sited.
To address those areas, Reps. Kilduff and Leavitt introduced four new bills to improve safety in communities like Lakewood, where citizens are concerned about public safety and the impact on local neighborhoods.
“Community partners, from neighborhoods and city councils to police departments and medical providers, need tools to keep the public safe and provide treatment. When there are inadequate resources for communities, the system breaks down and puts patients, providers, and the public at risk. This is a necessary step to strengthen safety as well as the behavioral health system,” said Kilduff.
HB 1825 focuses on public safety, ensuring children, seniors, and neighbors are protected from sexually violent predators (SVP) and that proper notification of changes to an SVP status are required under the law.
HB 1826 brings community partners into the discharge process by getting them more complete information. By keeping community members informed and accepting input, there can be more intentional and thoughtful decision-making.
HB 1827 emphasizes neighbors and the public in local communities by helping adult family homes make sound decisions to ensure safety of residents is not compromised by a prospective resident with a criminal past.
HB 1828 is about the future, asking for input from community partners as Western State Hospital changes and how behavioral health operates in local communities. The complex process of how behavioral health care is delivered to patients must be strategic and comprehensive. This work group asks directly for community participation to address their concerns.
“The safety of children and seniors along with the concerns of communities are paramount,” said Leavitt. “These bills acknowledge that the state must consider the long-term ramifications coming from changes at Western State Hospital and facilities that treat behavioral health issues. All of us are affected so everyone must be part of this planning process. I look forward to continuing this conversation with our community members and health care providers.”