The latest proposed state law named for a child that died tragically is “Gavin’s Law.”
The process began seven years ago when 18-month old Gavin Lukas Jordan was killed by his mother’s boyfriend at their home near Springfield. The boyfriend was angry because Gavin’s mother had aborted their child. He placed Gavin in a headlock, suffocating him. The boyfriend is in prison for life. Gavin’s mother was put on five years’ probation after admitting she knew the boy had been abused but not acting to stop it.
His grandparents had called the state’s child abuse hotline several times. State investigators found nobody at home when they visited and left their business cards asking the couple to call them, something one sponsor says is the equivalent of a sheriff leaving a note on a drug dealer’s house saying he’d be back a day later to see if there are any drugs there.
Senate sponsor Jay Wasson of Nixa says the Children’s Division has taken corrective action. But he wants those steps, and more, in the law books.
The bill waiting for the governor’s signature says hotline operators will tell callers to call 9-1-1 if they think the child is in imminent danger, caseworkers cannot leave cards behind when no one is at home when they make a house visit, and a case review must happen within three days if a child dies or is seriously hurt. He calls them “simple, commonsense things.”
Wasson got his bill through the Senate but it stalled in the House. However, the House passed a different version of a bill containing “Gavin’s Law,” sponsored by Representative Linda Black of Bonne Terre. The senate adopted that version and sent the bill to the governor.