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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Report Finds Oregon Falls Short Of Foster Care Standards

Chris Phan
Flickr -

Oregon is falling short of many of its own goals when it comes to caring for children in its foster care system. That's according to a review released this week.

The report found that Oregon's Department of Human Services falls short in a number of key areas. Those include:

  • The speed and frequency of investigations of abuse.
  • The number of repeat occurrences of mistreatment of children in the foster care system.
  • A lack of access to mental health treatment.

The report was compiled with the help of DHS employees and outside agencies. It's part of a periodic federal review of the state's foster care system. The review is meant to document compliance with federal child welfare requirements.
Oregon's report shows little to no improvement since the last report in 2008. The review comes as the Department of Human Services has come under increased scrutiny by lawmakers and Governor Kate Brown for the way it oversees the foster care system.

Brown recently installed Clyde Saiki as the new director of the agency. Shortly after taking the job, Saiki fired two senior child welfare officials.

Oregon lawmakers were quick to react to the report. Republican Representative Duane Stark called it “a sobering reminder of how broken our state’s child welfare system is.”

Democrats have also been critical of the state’s foster care system. But Democratic Senator Sara Gelser said she’s hopeful the actions taken to overhaul the agency will lead to better outcomes in the future. On Twitter, Gelser said the prior director was a “disaster."

Washington state's last federally-mandated review of its child welfare system was released in May, 2011.