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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.

DHS Leaders Provide Update Amid Staff Turnover, Foster Care Concerns

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Chris Lehman
/
Northwest News Network
Oregon Department of Human Services Director Clyde Saiki addresses stakeholders during a meeting at the agency's headquarters in Salem.

Leaders of the Oregon Department of Human Services are assuring the public that the agency is committed to its mission despite recent turnover in management. That message came during a pair of public meetings Friday.

DHS Director Clyde Saiki's opening remarks reflected the rapid changes underway in the agency's key staff.

"We've had some leadership changes in the department, so there are a couple of people I want to introduce,” Saiki said.

One of those people was Reginald Richardson, who's wearing several hats at DHS including the interim head of the foster care program.

"The director and I have really been focused on making sure that we are paying attention to safety, permanency for our children, as well as well-being,” Richardson said.

Oregon's foster care system has come under scrutiny amid reports that DHS has been slow to investigate potential abuse cases and that some providers have been misusing state funds.

Saiki himself is relatively new to the job, having been named by Governor Kate Brown the director of DHS in March, pending confirmation by the Oregon Senate. Saiki had been serving on an interim basis since last November, and had worked in various state government roles for many years.

Since then, Saiki has removed several top staffers at the department, including the head of the foster care program.