SEVERE WX : Air Stagnation Advisory View Alerts

Case of abandoned foster child raises lawmakers' ire

Officials are working to bring the girl home amid growing concern over the state's foster care system.

Posted: Apr 12, 2019 11:51 AM
Updated: Apr 12, 2019 1:13 PM

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers are demanding answers from the state's child welfare agency after a report that a 9-year-old girl in foster care was sent to a Montana facility for six months and injected with Benadryl to control her behavior.

A legislative hearing Thursday largely focused on the news report this week by Oregon Public Broadcasting that also revealed caseworkers didn't visit the girl for months. OPB learned of the case through the child's public defender.

Officials are now working to bring the girl back amid growing concern over the state's embattled foster care system. Eighty-five children are currently living in out-of-state facilities, a number that's more than doubled since 2017, OPB reported .

Sen. Sara Gelser, a Corvallis Democrat, said when she first received the list of the providers housing Oregon's children, she started searching the names online. Stories of licensing violations, arrests, sexual assaults and over use of restraints all started coming up.

Gelser also wondered how the state would know if there were other foster care children housed out-of-state who had similar experiences to the 9-year-old child. That case came to light because the child's family remains involved and because her public defender made personal contact with her in Montana and learned about the injections.


CLICK HERE for the full story on the 9-year-old currently held in a Montana facility.


The state is spending about $35,000 a day on the foster care kids out of the state, she said.

"Something here has gone very, very wrong," said Gelser, who chairs the Senate Committee on Human Services and convened the hearing. "We cannot ignore it and we have to keep this issue front and center until we are satisfied each of these kids are safe."

During the hearing, foster care officials announced they plan to stop sending children to facilities owned by Tennessee-based Acadia Healthcare, an organization facing several accusations of neglect and abuse, although some children still remain there.

Gretchen Hommrich, Acadia's director of investor relations, didn't immediately return a call Friday.

Fariborz Pakseresht, the head of the state Department of Human Services, said her agency had "dropped the ball" in the girl's case. "I own the mistake. We did make a mistake," she said at the hearing.

Pakseresht told lawmakers that part of the issue has been a reduced number of treatment beds available in Oregon.

Sen. Tim Knopp, a Bend Republican, asked why Child Welfare officials didn't bring that to lawmakers' attention earlier.

"I don't think there is anybody up here in this Legislature that isn't incredibly concerned this happened and we didn't know it was happening," he said.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 79293

Reported Deaths: 973
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah18432251
Washington11175104
Marion9745153
Clackamas684183
Lane458650
Umatilla450250
Jackson402838
Deschutes255815
Malheur247245
Yamhill181817
Linn164124
Polk134319
Douglas99819
Klamath9475
Jefferson87811
Benton8557
Union8158
Morrow6757
Lincoln67015
Josephine5795
Wasco55419
Columbia5444
Coos4583
Hood River4343
Clatsop3820
Baker3014
Crook2486
Curry1532
Tillamook1480
Lake1451
Grant1391
Harney1051
Wallowa723
Gilliam230
Sherman230
Wheeler60
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 1286550

Reported Deaths: 19553
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles4218817782
San Bernardino991041154
Riverside900891457
San Diego861421040
Orange816531586
Kern42937451
Sacramento39367591
Fresno39324488
Santa Clara36673495
Alameda30980522
San Joaquin26784519
Contra Costa25264261
Stanislaus22876433
Tulare21789314
Ventura21208185
Imperial16507358
Monterey16064124
San Francisco16058161
San Mateo15040170
Sonoma12795160
Merced12427185
Santa Barbara11720138
Kings1155589
Solano1111981
Marin7873129
Placer694172
Madera648290
San Luis Obispo637838
Shasta536552
Yolo506881
Santa Cruz476633
Butte424460
Sutter373319
Napa329818
El Dorado26384
Yuba231011
Lassen22203
San Benito200717
Tehama180026
Mendocino165723
Nevada145510
Tuolumne112811
Glenn99611
Humboldt9939
Lake97221
Colusa7566
Siskiyou7524
Amador74016
Mono5773
Calaveras55322
Del Norte3841
Inyo31416
Plumas2390
Trinity1700
Modoc1620
Mariposa1483
Alpine520
Sierra230
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
33° wxIcon
Hi: 55° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 33°
Brookings
Clear
42° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 41°
Feels Like: 42°
Crater Lake
Clear
24° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 23°
Feels Like: 17°
Grants Pass
Overcast
32° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 31°
Feels Like: 32°
Klamath Falls
Clear
24° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 21°
Feels Like: 17°
Patchy Friday morning fog
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events