Report: Oregon child welfare system struggling

System is failing at keeping children in state care safe and healthy

Kids on a school playground, September 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)
Kids on a school playground, September 2014 (KOIN 6 News, file)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Department of Human Services is responding to a federal study that indicates Oregon’s child welfare system is failing to keep children in state care safe and healthy.

The Child and Family Services Review shows DHS failed in all 14 categories related to child welfare.

Eight years ago, Oregon failed 11 out of 13 categories.

The news comes on the heels of Director Clyde Saiki’s admission in January that he can’t guarantee all children in the foster system are safe.

"I cannot guarantee that every single child is safe," DHS Interim Director Clyde Saiki said. (KOIN)
“I cannot guarantee that every single child is safe,” DHS Interim Director Clyde Saiki said. (KOIN)

“I cannot guarantee that every single child is safe,” he said. “It keeps me up at night.”

The statewide assessment reveals 542 children were abused between 2013-2015. Nearly 10% of them reportedly experienced repeated maltreatment.

It also shows foster kids in Oregon are moved at a higher rate than in other states, at 6.31 moves per 1,000 days. That’s nearly 50% higher than the national standard.

Controversy surrounding Portland foster care provider Give Us This Day previously brought light to some of DHS’ mishaps. Complaints included allegations that children were denied food, people were assaulted and even raped.

The review indicates caseworkers with DHS take too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect. It found just over half of child welfare investigations are completed in time. The most serious cases require check-ins within 24 hours, but the state met that goal less than 2/3 of the time.

In a statement obtained by KOIN 6 News, DHS Director Clyde Saiki said:

“The disappointing results were no surprise to us. It is clear that DHS was  not appropriately working and tracking the program improvement plan that came out of the 2008 CFSR. That plan focused on improving the timeliness of CPS response, preventing the recurrence of maltreatment in family care and residential settings and comprehensive assessments and training.” 

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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