Recently, the placement of foster children has been in the news. Unfortunately, there is a placement crisis in Oregon, and it's been building for some time. The placement crisis is statewide, but it's definitely impacting children locally in Linn County. Additionally, there has been a
against the Department of Human Services (DHS) for placing foster children temporarily in hotels. This all boils down to the lack of foster homes that are available for housing children.
Many issues attribute to the crisis, including:
- Closures of multiple programs across the state, both voluntary and involuntary.
- Recruitment of families to take in foster care children.
- Lack of DHS staff and a high turnover rate for foster parents and the caseworkers.
Because of this placement crisis, DHS workers are working around the clock as they often supervise youth in hotels until they can find a placement. Yes, "hoteling" is now a term being used. DHS employees have really stepped up to the plate to supervise these kids. Their dedication and commitment to youth is noteworthy, but there is so much more that needs to be addressed.
Mindy Delery, a foster parent from Albany, recently contacted our office and shared some of her concerns with the foster care system. Mindy has been a foster parent for almost two years. One of Mindy's main goals is to recruit more foster parents and find a better process to expedite the approval for foster parents and homes. In some cases, potential foster parents are waiting almost a year before being approved.
If you're interested in getting involved or learning more, DHS will be hosting a meeting on December 6th at 6pm in Corvallis at Adams Elementary School.
What a great time for all interested parties to come together and build our community. DHS is already underway trying to remedy
the placement crisis, including increasing capacity within existing programs and establishing additional programs. Some other options being discussed:
- Expediting the foster parent placement process without compromising the safety of children.
- Lowering the turnover rate of caseworkers and ensuring these caseworkers are getting every tool they need to be successful.
I so appreciate foster parents and the difference they make in these children's future.
Trooper D.C. Graham, from West Virginia pulled over a suspected drunk driver, and found the female driver to be intoxicated with a baby boy clothed only with a diaper in the back seat.
The driver was arrested and Trooper Graham took the baby boy back to the police barracks. Graham said,
"We brought him in to the barracks and the smell of vomit and feces overtook the room. The baby was crying profusely. We tried everything. He was just so upset in the condition he was in. There was nothing we could do to get him to stop crying. I can't let him sit in this."
So, Graham cleaned the child in a sink, and as soon as he started washing the baby, a smile started to light up the boy's face. Child Protective Services arrived about three hours later to find a safe place for the child.
The placement crisis is not an easy fix, but we're headed in the right direction and it takes a community effort. This West Virginia trooper sure did his part to help a child in need.