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Put kids in seats with harness systems

I have two foster children who are ages 3 and 4 weighing less than 40 pounds and of average height. I am using a forward-facing car seat with the five-point harness system for both of them.

When their birth parent comes to pick them up for a visit, he puts them in forward-facing booster seats with a lap belt only. I believe that because his car is older, it doesn't have the shoulder harnesses.

Even still, shouldn't the children be in forward-facing car seats with the harness system? Thank you for clarifying this for me.

— Sharon B.

The children should be in forward-facing seats with their own harness systems. The parent should NOT be placing the children in forward-facing booster seats using a lap belt only. Booster seats that are used for positioning only, by putting the booster in the seat, the child in the booster, and then the vehicle's lap and shoulder harness over everything must have the use of a lap and shoulder system.

If all the birth parent's car has are lap belts only, then he should use booster seats with the internal harnesses that can be secured to the car using the lap belt only system.

The other alternative is to seat belt the children in the vehicle's lap and shoulder system without the car seats, because that's a better alternative than using the booster improperly with only a lap belt. But even doing that, he's going to run afoul of the law regarding booster seat use and properly secured children.

There is a way to properly secure both these children (like you're doing it) so he shouldn't have wiggle room to argue, other than to say he can't afford it. However, new seats would be easily affordable compared to each $97 seat-belt citation for not having the children properly secured.

Dace Cochran, a patrol sergeant with the Jackson County Sheriff's Department, writes a weekly Q&A column on police issues for the Mail Tribune. Have a question for him? Write to Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501, or e-mail cochradc@jacksoncounty.org.