SALEM, Ore. (KOIN) — Oregon has more than 7000 children in foster care and on Tuesday some of their caseworkers went to the state Capitol to fight for more funding to solve what some people call a crisis in the foster care system.
The Oregon Department of Human Services has been on the hot seat for years, under fire for housing kids in hotel rooms and offices with DHS workers and more recently sending dozens of foster children out of state to be locked up in for-profit facilities.
Earlier in April, Gov. Kate Brown issued an executive order to establish an oversight board. She also deployed a crisis management team to implement the board’s recommendations.
At a rally at the Capitol, their message to lawmakers was to approve more money to provide adequate places for foster kids who need support services as well as for foster families and caseworkers.
Money is also needed to hire more caseworkers, who often manage 3 times the number of cases they’re supposed to. They’re frustrated they’re often blamed for the problems.
“It feels like the legislature said, ‘We tried all these things and don’t know what to do.’ Well, what about try funding us 100%. I know it sounds crazy but if there are enough of us to do the job we will do the job right,” said DHS caseworker Wendy Stott.
Earlier this month, lawyers representing Oregon foster children filed a class-action lawsuit over the treatment of foster children.against the state, claiming the children’s rights are violated by receiving inadequate or poor care. At that time, more than 80 children were housed out of state.
DHS caseworkers said some have 30 cases they’re working on, including cases with multiple siblings. That means they have dozens of children whose safety they’re responsible for.
They also met with lawmakers who are in the process of putting together the state budget for next year, hoping to get funding they need.