Public outrage at the circumstances surrounding 5-year-old Oakville girl Oakley Carlson’s disappearance has sparked a petition to the state Legislature urging lawmakers to require more safety supports for foster children placed back into their biological homes.
Investigators have been searching for Oakley since Dec. 6, when the principal of Oakville Elementary School requested a welfare check for the girl and detectives discovered she was missing.
Investigators now believe Oakley was last seen alive on Feb. 10, 2021. The girls parents are considered persons of interest in the case and are being held in the Grays Harbor County Jail on separate charges for allegedly not providing needed medication for their 6-year-old daughter.
Shortly after the Grays Harbor County Sheriff’s Office started asking the public for information that could aid the investigation, Oakley's former foster parents reported that the state Department of Children and Families (DCYF) ignored their concerns about Oakley’s wellbeing and placed her back with her biological parents in 2019.
Her former foster parents, along with many members of the public following the case and commenting on social media, have said DCYF and Child Protective Services (CPS) hold blame for failing to keep Oakley safe.
“Oakley's safety net failed her and it didn't have too and should never have!” reads the Change.org petition, started by a group called Friends and Family of Oakley.
The petitioners claim CPS and DCYF should not have been the only parties accountable for maintaining contact with Oakley and ensuring her safety.
“Like a five-point safety harness of a car seat, there should be a law requiring a five-point safety network for every foster child placed back into the home. This ensures, if one point of safety fails, the child is still held safely by the others still intact,” reads the petition.
Those other points of contact could be medical professionals, school district contacts, community liaisons or designated family or community members, the petition states.
“There are ought to be people who care enough about children, they would serve in the expanded yet essential role of being a part of a child's intentional safety support system.”
The petition for “Oakley’s Law” had over 4,500 signatures as of Tuesday afternoon.
It can be read and signed at www.change.org/p/don-t-let-another-child-fall-through-the-system-s-brokenness?redirect=false.
Investigators are still actively searching for Oakley.
Search and rescue groups, search dogs, cadaver dogs and drones equipped with thermal imagers helped investigators search the Carlson family’s Oakville home and surrounding property, but the search was completed Dec. 11 and searchers were unable to locate Oakley. Investigators are asking to speak with anyone who has seen Oakley since January 2021, as well as anyone who has had direct contact with her parents Jordan Bowers and Andrew Carlson for the same time period.
The girl’s parents claim to have last seen her at the end of November.
Both Bowers and Carlson have been in custody at the Grays Harbor County Jail since Dec. 6.
They are currently being held in lieu of $150,000 bail each on charges of second-degree abandonment of a dependent person for allegedly neglecting to give their 6-year-old daughter doctor-prescribed medication for 15 months. Both are scheduled for preliminary appearance hearings in Grays Harbor County District Court on Dec. 30.
Anyone with information on Oakley’s disappearance is encouraged to call the Grays Harbor Sheriff’s Office’s dispatch non-emergency number at 360-533-8765 or to contact Detective Sgt. Paul Logan at 360-964-1729 firstname.lastname@example.org.