By ANDREW SELSKY Associated Press
SALEM, Ore. (AP) — The state of Oregon has brought back dozens of children with special needs from out-of-state facilities where they were sometimes subjected to deplorable conditions.
More on the recent history of Oregon's foster care crisis:
- State audit reveals Oregon welfare program and foster care mismanagement
- Advocates say Oregon foster child 'abandoned,' drugged
- Case of abandoned foster child raises lawmakers' ire
- Oregon foster care system targeted in class action lawsuit
- Governor Brown issues executive order to deal with mounting foster care crisis
- Tensions flare at strained hearing over Oregon foster care
- $24M suit: Oregon moved abuser into foster home with 2 girls
- Report: Oregon foster care system needs 'extensive work'
- State attorneys seek dismissal of Oregon foster care lawsuit
Gov. Kate Brown's Child Welfare Oversight Board said Wednesday that currently 37 children in the child welfare system are being served in an out-of-state facility, down from as many as 88.
Some of those children had been housed in Red Rock Canyon School in St. George, Utah. The school has been understaffed, leading to violence, sexual misconduct and an unsafe atmosphere, Utah's Department of Human Services said in a May notification to the school's owners. A riot occurred in the facility on April 28, during which staff made degrading comments to residents, escalating the situation.
Licensing investigators uncovered numerous other instances of mistreatment, abuse and disrespect toward residents. The facility's parent company announced on July 9 it would close.
Oregon also sent vulnerable children to the for-profit Clarinda Academy in Iowa. Iowa's Department of Human Services said some staff at Clarinda slammed children to the ground and injured them while punishing them, and kept several students for weeks at a time in a suspension room, according to a report in the Des Moines Register, citing state documents.
Oregon intends to develop additional psychiatric residential treatment services, hire caseworkers and work more closely with families, Brown's office said in a statement. The state aims to develop capacity for an additional 15 beds by the end of the year.
"In order to bring children in out-of-state facilities back to Oregon, we need to develop more capacity here to serve children with complex needs," Brown said.
In July, the Oversight Board recommended statewide recruitment of 300 child welfare workers. The Department of Human Services says it expects to have a majority of the positions filled by the end of October.
— OregonDHS CW (@OregonDHSCW) August 6, 2019
The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) has launched a webpage to "track the progress" of bringing foster kids back to Oregon, here.
Look below for the full list of recommendations offered by the Child Welfare Oversight Board.