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For years, WA State required all health agencies, including birth hospitals, to report to DOH all babies who were exposed to drug or alcohol use, as the DOH called it, substance-exposed infants. Now that rule has gone away.

WA State Department of Children, Youth and Families adopts new procedures

The Department of Children, Youth, and Families (DCYF) now has issued new guidelines for dealing with babies and infants who are strongly believed, or known to have been exposed to drugs or alcohol.

 The DOH and DCYF are adopting what's called wrap-around care, entitled, "Eat, Sleep, Console."   According to the new guidelines:

"If there are no safety concerns, state policy now allows substance-exposed infants to receive voluntary wrap-around services without being reported to Child Protective Services. All hospitals should update policies to align with state policy and train staff no later than Jan. 1, 2025, to comply with federal requirements."

The DCYF went on to say if there are safety or health concerns, or clear signs of issues related to substance exposure, reporting is still required.

DOH and DCYF say new research shows this revised set of procedures is reportedly more effective in dealing with infants who have been exposed to substances but do not openly display issues.

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Critics of the new procedures say even if no health issues are visible, it is still important to report the exposure in case future issues or concerns develop.


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