BREAKING NEWS FDA grants emergency use authorization for Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine Full Story
STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

Report: Oregon foster care system needs 'extensive work'

The report itself is a follow-up to a 2018 state audit that found systemic issues in the way the DHS manages the approximately 7,500 foster children in its care.

Posted: Jun 5, 2019 11:58 AM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon's troubled foster care system still needs to undergo "extensive work" if it wants to adequately address child safety issues, according to a new report released Wednesday from the secretary of state's Office.

But a lack of funding could stand in the way of any major progress, and the report notes the state's Department of Human Services will need an expensive overall requiring hundreds of new staff members plus years of dedicated investments from legislators and community members.

"There is nothing more important than the wellbeing of children," Secretary of State Bev Clarno said in a statement. "DHS is moving in the right direction, but there is still work that needs to be done to ensure proper staffing, suitable foster homes and residential facilities, and a better overall culture."

The report itself is a follow-up to a 2018 state audit that found systemic issues in the way the DHS manages the approximately 7,500 foster children in its care. Child welfare workers, overburdened with high caseloads, had little to no time to meet in person with the children in their care. Out of a lack of quality foster care homes, the department has been forced to keep children in hotels, refurbished juvenile jails or in out-of-state, for-profit facilities where child welfare advocates say kids were neglected and left vulnerable to further abuses.

The agency has weathered years criticism and has recently been slapped with a federal lawsuit alleging that DHS has failed to shield children from abuse.

The secretary of state's office notes that DHS has taken some positive steps, working to improve workplace culture and expand training opportunities for caseworkers. But the report notes that problems still remain.

Progress going forward could be more difficult, as the office cautions that "uncertain funding for improvements could undermine those efforts."


CLICK HERE for our story on a recent executive order issued by Gov. Brown aimed at dealing with the child welfare crisis.


The report stresses that reducing caseworker turnover and workload is likely the "most important" step in addressing the flaws within the foster care system, but it's also the most expensive.

The Secretary of State's office estimates that the department would need an additional 570 caseworkers and 800 support workers to meet its staffing needs, far more than even DHS' original estimates. That, the office admits, would require "extensive funding."

It's a tough ask, especially as legislative budget leaders are looking to make 5% cuts across nearly all state agencies.

Gov. Kate Brown recommended spending $762 million on foster care in her proposed budget late last year, which is $56 million more than what the agency needs to maintain existing services. But her budget, which prioritizes recruiting foster parents and expanding placements for high-needs youth, notably doesn't include the agency's requests for an additional $77 million to expand staffing levels.

Legislators are finalizing agency budgets and must decide how to allocate the historic amount of revenue flowing into the state before the end of June. But despite the unexpected increase in cash flow, budget leaders have cautioned prudence and previously suggested investing the money into the state's rainy-day fund.

Brown wants to use $50 million of the surplus revenue to pay for additional caseworkers among other improvements, saying it's the first step to "lower caseloads, and improve staff culture and child safety."

"To move forward and make meaningful change, the agency needs more resources and expertise," she said in a statement. "I have deployed an oversight board and crisis management team, but the Legislature needs to do their part and provide the funding needed for the state to better serve children."

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 155315

Reported Deaths: 2208
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah31853528
Washington21170212
Marion18416285
Clackamas13357175
Lane10224126
Jackson8377112
Umatilla765182
Deschutes594659
Yamhill377364
Linn358656
Malheur335058
Polk305342
Klamath278955
Douglas246354
Josephine233750
Benton233516
Jefferson195528
Coos148219
Union128419
Columbia126121
Wasco122126
Lincoln113120
Hood River106829
Morrow104714
Clatsop7756
Crook77518
Baker6567
Curry4266
Tillamook4142
Lake3756
Harney2736
Grant2221
Wallowa1424
Gilliam531
Sherman530
Wheeler221
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3563578

Reported Deaths: 51953
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles119089421328
Riverside2894503767
San Bernardino2862912816
Orange2610223904
San Diego2596413271
Santa Clara1104221777
Kern102627826
Fresno952021443
Sacramento931801472
Alameda804961241
Ventura77534844
San Joaquin665691101
Contra Costa62164674
Stanislaus56024946
Tulare47784758
Monterey42138328
San Mateo38922515
San Francisco34213410
Santa Barbara31763409
Solano30024164
Merced28915397
Sonoma28063298
Imperial26888591
Kings21951218
Placer19763232
San Luis Obispo19612227
Madera15436209
Santa Cruz14588183
Marin13136197
Yolo12816185
Shasta10972174
Butte10941160
El Dorado9095100
Napa901469
Sutter884597
San Benito575959
Yuba573336
Lassen560119
Tehama508152
Nevada395274
Tuolumne394659
Mendocino379643
Amador345741
Humboldt318033
Lake315341
Glenn222023
Colusa212813
Calaveras190547
Siskiyou174014
Inyo128737
Mono12114
Del Norte9875
Plumas6536
Modoc4524
Mariposa3957
Trinity3675
Sierra990
Alpine810
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 56° Lo: 26°
Feels Like: 56°
Brookings
Clear
51° wxIcon
Hi: 61° Lo: 30°
Feels Like: 51°
Medford
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 14°
Feels Like: 56°
Medford
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 59° Lo: 28°
Feels Like: 56°
Klamath Falls
Clear
43° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 19°
Feels Like: 39°
Very mild start to March
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events