'Oakley Carlson Act' filed in the Washington Legislature

Proposed legislation inspired by missing six-year-old Oakley Carlson has been filed in the 68th legislative session.

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

Oakley Carlson has been missing for more than a year after she was returned to her biological parents Andrew Carlson and Jordan Bowers. Detectives say Oakley has not been seen since Feb. 2021.

Both Carlson and Bowers have not been charged with Oakley's disappearance, but they have been under scrutiny for refusing to work with investigators in finding her.

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"We're not giving up on little Oakley, and we're not giving up on reforms," said Rep. Walsh.

The Oakley Carlson Act outlines a number of changes intended to protect children who have been removed from a parent based on abuse, neglect or abandonment. Walsh believes this proposed bill has a good chance of passing.

"[The Oakley Carlson Act] will not only prevent this kind of thing from happening again, but if this kind of thing does happen again, it'll put us in better a position to find the missing child," said Walsh.

Jamie Jo Hiles, Oakley's former foster mother, says she feels some relief seeing some of the proposed changes.

"The random drug testing, and not just following up that it wouldn't just be the six months—which has been the protocol—but five years," said Hiles.

Hiles says she remembers the frustrations of alerting the Department of Children, Youth and Families (DCYF) to issues with Oakley's biological mother.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE: Inslee called for review of DCYF's handling of Oakley Carlson's case; no wrongdoing found

"I'm not saying people can't change; I wish it could be a long process of reunification, because it takes a lot longer than six months for anybody to change their behaviors," said Hiles.

FOX 13 News reached out to DCYF about this proposed legislation, but they sent us this statement:

"Child welfare records held by the Department of Children, Youth, and Families are confidential under state law, RCW 13.50.100, so we will not be available for an interview."

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The Oakley Carlson Act is in its beginning stages and Rep. Walsh says he expect it to go through a committee hearing in the next few weeks.

In the meantime, Jamie Jo Hiles says a peaceful gathering is happening this Sunday.