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Governor Brown issues executive order to deal with mounting foster care crisis

Recent damning reports on conditions for children within the care of Oregon's Department of Human Services have prompted public outcry for reform.

Posted: Apr 18, 2019 12:08 PM
Updated: Apr 18, 2019 1:37 PM

SALEM, Ore. — Responding to mounting pressure aimed at Oregon's child welfare system, Governor Kate Brown issued an executive order on Thursday in an attempt to create greater oversight on conditions within the state's Department of Human Services (DHS).

“Oregon’s child welfare system is overburdened to the point where I have serious concerns about the state’s ability to sufficiently serve our most vulnerable children,” said Governor Brown. “While DHS is working on long-term solutions to right-size the foster care system, there needs to be immediate action to protect children in care today. That’s why today I am establishing a Child Welfare Oversight Board and bringing in additional resources and expertise.”

Brown and DHS officials currently face a class action lawsuit leveled by child welfare advocacy groups, alleging that the state has failed to shield children from abuse and kept them in substandard housing conditions.

Thursday's executive order establishes a Child Welfare Oversight Board to advise the Governor on what measures to take in order to address the state's "child welfare crisis." Brown has asked that the Board examine DHS practices on out-of-state foster child placements, improving capacity within the system for adequate types of foster care, and addressing issues with transparency, communications, hiring and human resources.


CLICK HERE for a recent report from OPB outlining claims that a 9-year-old girl in foster care had been sent out of state in the care of a third-party contractor, abandoned, and "drugged."


The Governor said that she has also directed DHS and its Child Welfare Program to "suspend or amend any agency policies or rules that make it difficult to address challenges in the child welfare system," including "policies or rules related to hiring or contracting."

“Oregon’s challenges in foster care have been long-standing, and our children and families deserve better,” said Governor Brown. “We need to mobilize quickly if we want to improve the lives of those in Oregon’s foster care system. I also want to be clear that the child welfare system belongs to all of us as Oregonians, not just DHS or state government. Part of the reform in child welfare is engaging communities in being part of the solution."

In a statement commenting on Brown's executive order, DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht pointed out that the state's Child Welfare program has been "extremely strained" for decades.

"During the past two years, there have been multiple internal and independent assessments and audits of the agency and its Child Welfare program that all point to the same list of solutions," Pakseresht said. "We have a clear picture of what must be done, we have defined the strategies to correct the problems, we have been building the foundation for the corrective work and we are making progress."

Creating a "robust child well-being system" would take time, he added, voicing his support for Governor Brown's executive order.

"Keeping Oregon’s foster children safe and helping our families heal and thrive takes all of us working together," Pakseresht said. "We look forward to working productively and cooperatively with the Governor’s designees."

Brown and other officials have indicated efforts are underway to bring back foster children being held out of state at third-party facilities, state Sen. Sara Gelser saying that her office had already helped to return a 9-year-old girl highlighted in a damning OPB report from last week.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 132412

Reported Deaths: 1799
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28237458
Washington18512171
Marion16085238
Clackamas11577138
Lane8219108
Jackson686284
Umatilla670968
Deschutes490736
Yamhill316245
Malheur312452
Linn310246
Klamath242238
Polk241340
Josephine170633
Jefferson168725
Benton168414
Douglas166643
Union110416
Wasco106323
Columbia103318
Lincoln98517
Hood River94821
Coos93315
Morrow92710
Clatsop6695
Crook60410
Baker5665
Tillamook3622
Curry3185
Lake2295
Grant2131
Harney1734
Wallowa963
Gilliam481
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 2955323

Reported Deaths: 33342
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles100392313741
San Bernardino2482851560
Riverside2352352517
San Diego2098972065
Orange2093652320
Santa Clara914661060
Kern83547558
Sacramento802791080
Fresno79950932
Alameda65679757
Ventura59061412
San Joaquin56484748
Contra Costa50627430
Stanislaus41925739
Tulare40176501
Monterey34959249
San Mateo31291294
San Francisco28574254
Imperial24944463
Solano24654105
Santa Barbara23538228
Merced23492296
Sonoma23204234
Kings18661110
Placer16761173
San Luis Obispo15129128
Madera12883130
Santa Cruz11776113
Marin11345153
Yolo10240131
Shasta9594117
Butte9233121
El Dorado751544
Sutter748477
Napa723139
Lassen509413
San Benito485043
Yuba481827
Tehama397142
Tuolumne330438
Nevada309973
Mendocino307631
Amador295329
Lake243428
Humboldt226324
Glenn182419
Colusa16919
Calaveras153823
Siskiyou140813
Mono10834
Inyo92429
Del Norte8472
Plumas5735
Modoc3783
Mariposa3434
Trinity3024
Alpine730
Sierra700
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