A state audit released today finds a wealth of problems with Oregon’s Child Welfare Office with leaders continually failing to fix systemic problems. The agency has paid out $39 million in settlements since 2006 for failing to keep children safe.
The Secretary of State’s scathing audit took aim at every aspect of a critical agency responsible for the safety of neglected and abused children, from receiving complaint calls to certifying foster homes and investigating families.
It found the Office of Child Welfare, within the state’s vast Department of Human Services, has failed to keep up with legal mandates and the increased demand for state intervention. The office currently oversees 7,800 children in foster care in Oregon.
The audit found that management has failed to implement prior reform recommendations; foster parents don’t get enough training or support; DHS has failed to adequately recruit and retain foster parents; there’s not enough group homes or treatment facilities to meet the needs for kids taken out of their family homes; and burnout and turnover are high among child welfare workers.
This is not the first time that the state has identified chronic problems in the child welfare program. In 2015, in the wake of a scandal at Portland foster care provider Give Us This Day, Governor Kate Brown conducted an independent review of the state’s Child Welfare Department. The review culminated in the ousting of the head of DHS at that time.