SALEM, Ore. (AP) – A federal class action lawsuit alleges that Oregon’s foster care system has failed to shield the children in its care from abuse and further neglect.
The lawsuit, filed Tuesday in federal court, says Oregon’s Department of Human Services violated federal and state law by not providing foster kids with permanent, long-term foster homes. The agency has struggled to house its 7,500 foster children and often has no choice but to house children in hotels, homeless shelters and refurbished jail cells.
The case is one of the most expansive complaints brought against DHS. The lawyers said they hope the federal court can compel DHS to provide more adequate services.
DHS issued the following statement early Wednesday:
(SALEM, Ore.) – Today the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) was named a defendant in a lawsuit from Disability Rights Oregon and A Better Childhood. The lawsuit calls for an increase in the foster care system capacity to ensure every child has an appropriate placement and to ensure foster children – particularly those with intellectual or developmental disabilities or identifying as LGBTQ – receive the services and supports that meet their needs.
DHS shares the same vision of a foster care system where all children are safe, have the customized supports they need to heal, and are cared for in stable, loving families where they thrive. We take the care of our foster children seriously and work with urgency and diligence to achieve this goal. Over the past 18 months we’ve been building the foundation needed to balance staff workload, so they can spend more time with children and families and add supports to serve children and families holistically in their communities.
Many efforts are underway to further the same goals of the lawsuit, including:
We will continue to work purposefully with our system partners in addressing the gaps in the foster care system to create a better future for Oregon’s children.