SEVERE WX : Air Quality Alert - Fire Weather Watch - Red Flag Warning View Alerts

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.

Cases: 214869

Reported Deaths: 2836
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah41288617
Washington27471257
Marion24180329
Clackamas19603240
Lane14464171
Jackson12195151
Deschutes1035787
Umatilla918292
Linn607281
Yamhill496981
Klamath490279
Douglas423587
Polk421556
Josephine395874
Malheur365067
Benton338722
Jefferson245642
Coos226839
Columbia204732
Union159024
Lincoln151122
Wasco149831
Crook136824
Hood River124634
Morrow120317
Clatsop111810
Baker105717
Curry75512
Tillamook7285
Grant5577
Lake4848
Harney45111
Wallowa2086
Gilliam841
Sherman772
Wheeler351
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3894556

Reported Deaths: 64228
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles127625424623
San Bernardino3040755236
Riverside3040604657
San Diego2906253793
Orange2787205141
Santa Clara1217672099
Sacramento1128961770
Kern1123181417
Fresno1036371736
Alameda939531272
Ventura829751041
San Joaquin760341446
Contra Costa74030830
Stanislaus650191085
Tulare50104854
Monterey44273524
San Mateo43880588
San Francisco38954561
Solano35193259
Santa Barbara35189465
Merced32814484
Sonoma31965328
Imperial28996745
Placer24530304
Kings23366248
San Luis Obispo21717264
Madera16885249
Santa Cruz16452207
Marin14589238
Yolo14574214
Butte12982203
Shasta12804242
El Dorado10774120
Napa1025281
Sutter9965115
Yuba681651
San Benito622963
Lassen586826
Tehama581566
Nevada518375
Humboldt489753
Mendocino457150
Tuolumne433473
Lake396364
Amador381648
Siskiyou252740
Glenn245727
Colusa233918
Calaveras227958
Del Norte15518
Inyo145338
Mono13125
Plumas7626
Modoc5737
Mariposa4857
Trinity4486
Sierra1240
Alpine890
Unassigned440
Medford
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 100° Lo: 57°
Feels Like: 80°
Brookings
Clear
64° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 58°
Feels Like: 64°
Crater Lake
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 83° Lo: 54°
Feels Like: 80°
Grants Pass
Clear
81° wxIcon
Hi: 98° Lo: 59°
Feels Like: 80°
Klamath Falls
Partly Cloudy
79° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 60°
Feels Like: 78°
Hot and smoky weekend
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events