STREAMING NOW: Watch Now

State attorneys seek dismissal of Oregon foster care lawsuit

State attorneys are seeking to dismiss a sweeping federal lawsuit targeting Oregon's troubled foster care system.

Posted: Jul 26, 2019 12:17 PM
Updated: Jul 26, 2019 2:17 PM

By SARAH ZIMMERMAN Associated Press

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — State attorneys representing Oregon Gov. Kate Brown and the Department of Human Services filed a motion to dismiss a federal lawsuit targeting Oregon's troubled foster care system, arguing in part that the state is already taking significant action to address child welfare.

The motion, filed Thursday, responds to a lawsuit filed in April arguing that the state violated foster children's federal and constitutional rights by not providing them proper care. The suit said DHS failed to protect the 7,500 foster children in its custody from harm and cited numerous examples, including a case involving a nine-year-old girl who was sent to an out-of-state facility where she was drugged and physically restrained by staff.

In its motion to dismiss, the state argues the federal court system cannot compel changes to Oregon's foster care system and that improving child welfare is "a task that must be left to Oregon's juvenile courts and state government." Brown and other top leaders at DHS have also released comprehensive plans to address challenges identified in the lawsuit making litigation unnecessary, attorneys argued.

Brown signed an executive order in April convening a Child Welfare Oversight Board to introduce and implement changes to the foster care system regarding out-of-state placements, a shortage of foster homes within Oregon, and complaints from child welfare workers that they are overworked and understaffed. DHS announced this week that it is prepared to hire over 300 additional child welfare workers, a move driven by the governor's executive order.

But the national advocacy group A Better Childhood, which filed the original lawsuit, said it's too early to tell if state's course of action can adequately address the scope of the problem.

"You can't dismiss a lawsuit just because the state promises to be better," said Marcia Lowry, executive director of the New-York based nonprofit. "The state has good intentions, but for ten years they've been making recommendations on how to fix the problem without any real results."

A Better Childhood, which has filed similar lawsuits in other states, has two weeks to respond to the state's motion to dismiss. A judge would decide whether or not to move forward with the case.

Jake Sunderland, a spokesperson for DHS, said the department "cannot comment on this litigation at this time."

Federal judges have issued mixed rulings on suits targeting state foster care systems. A Florida court dismissed a similar case in 2003, while a Texas appeals court this month upheld a court ruling compelling the state to make significant changes to its child welfare system.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 20635

Reported Deaths: 348
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Multnomah476293
Washington299124
Marion283769
Umatilla222127
Clackamas150039
Malheur75513
Deschutes5829
Lane5653
Jackson4472
Yamhill42913
Lincoln4129
Union3942
Morrow3493
Jefferson3464
Polk30812
Linn27110
Klamath2012
Hood River1810
Wasco1813
Benton1646
Douglas1481
Josephine1132
Columbia910
Coos900
Clatsop840
Crook431
Baker380
Tillamook340
Lake320
Wallowa191
Sherman150
Curry140
Harney100
Gilliam40
Grant40
Unassigned00
Wheeler00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 546814

Reported Deaths: 10133
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Los Angeles2042584919
Riverside40452799
Orange38754704
San Bernardino34939497
San Diego31127583
Kern22009160
Fresno16625157
Alameda12884206
San Joaquin12119192
Santa Clara11336196
Sacramento10544155
Tulare10475196
Imperial9601240
Stanislaus9408151
Contra Costa8760136
Ventura803582
San Francisco732664
Santa Barbara665268
San Mateo5978120
Marin525778
Monterey515635
Merced485562
Kings445356
Solano395939
Sonoma335844
Madera226736
Placer209920
San Luis Obispo204716
Yolo166042
Santa Cruz12294
Butte10608
Napa104610
Sutter8936
El Dorado7161
San Benito6994
Lassen6380
Yuba5724
Shasta4119
Mendocino36310
Colusa3624
Glenn3603
Nevada3211
Humboldt2804
Tehama2711
Lake2202
Amador1620
Mono1531
Tuolumne1472
Calaveras1361
Del Norte960
Siskiyou920
Inyo863
Mariposa602
Plumas340
Trinity50
Modoc40
Sierra30
Alpine20
Unassigned00
Medford
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 90° Lo: 56°
Feels Like: 75°
Brookings
Clear
63° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 63°
Crater Lake
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 86° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 70°
Grants Pass
Clear
75° wxIcon
Hi: 88° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 75°
Klamath Falls
Clear
70° wxIcon
Hi: 87° Lo: 49°
Feels Like: 70°
Temperatures heating up
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events