Oregon Legislature Moves Forward with Needed Foster Care Reforms

Following up my blog last month about the scandal and abuses at the Give Us This Day foster care center I am pleased to report that the Oregon legislature is making progress to address the important issue of injuries to children in Oregon’s foster care system.

As reported recently by The Oregonian, the Senate’s Human Services Committee has unanimously approved SB 1515 under which “Oregon’s foster care officials would have to produce public reports listing confirmed findings of abuse and neglect every three months.” The drive for this legislation was spurred by the scandal at the now-shuttered Give Us This Day facility which, the newspaper writes, is accused of misusing more than $2 million of public funds even as it “tolerated more than a decade of child abuse.”

The key thing to remember is that this scandal is not about one particular center, but, rather, about the entire way foster care is handled by the government here in Oregon and how much insight the public ought to be able to have into both the state’s actions and the providers with whom it works.

According to the paper “Oregon has nearly 8000 children in foster care on any given day, many of them already victims of abuse or facing behavioral and emotional issues before coming into state care.” The state has an especially important duty to see that the children it takes responsibility for are properly cared for. This, in turn, means that the state must closely supervise persons and facilities whom it hires to help look after these children. We, as taxpayers, have a right to know how well the state and the people it hires are carrying out these tasks.

As a Portland attorney focusing on injuries to children I am glad to see that this legislation is moving forward in Salem, as is the “outside investigation of the Department of Human Services child welfare system, ordered by Gov. Kate Brown.” The Oregonian notes that this could take up to six months, but that fact by itself is no reason for our legislators to hold off on doing what we all know to be the right thing with respect to the health and safety of children being cared for by the state. SB 1515 is now being considered by the Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which will look into its funding implications. Click here to follow the bill’s progress on the legislature’s website.

 

The Oregonian: Foster care scandal: Bill requiring public reports on abuse clears Senate panel