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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

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Cases: 206851

Reported Deaths: 2756
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah40371614
Washington26781248
Marion23425323
Clackamas18932235
Lane13908164
Jackson11535146
Deschutes1001882
Umatilla859387
Linn561181
Yamhill478279
Klamath477678
Polk399356
Douglas388483
Malheur361463
Josephine360672
Benton326522
Jefferson237039
Coos216637
Columbia192129
Union149924
Wasco144430
Lincoln143021
Crook129223
Hood River121633
Morrow115416
Clatsop10589
Baker101115
Curry71011
Tillamook6604
Grant5507
Lake4678
Harney4339
Wallowa1945
Gilliam801
Sherman671
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

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Reported Deaths: 63356
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Riverside3016684627
San Bernardino2992894845
San Diego2818103771
Orange2730575113
Santa Clara1201632188
Kern1107991404
Sacramento1078211736
Fresno1029471724
Alameda896591277
Ventura816611031
San Joaquin747271440
Contra Costa70730813
Stanislaus634971070
Tulare49776849
Monterey43836432
San Mateo42681581
San Francisco37269556
Santa Barbara34613455
Solano33762266
Merced32313478
Sonoma30884317
Imperial28855741
Placer23589299
Kings23195247
San Luis Obispo21421261
Madera16638245
Santa Cruz16246208
Marin14206230
Yolo14160212
Butte12668194
Shasta12630233
El Dorado10396116
Napa1002680
Sutter9663113
Yuba648951
San Benito610963
Lassen578424
Tehama573463
Nevada491975
Humboldt449948
Mendocino434050
Tuolumne421271
Amador374047
Lake356345
Glenn243427
Siskiyou239637
Colusa228418
Calaveras220756
Del Norte14588
Inyo143438
Mono12954
Plumas7366
Modoc5585
Mariposa4657
Trinity4225
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