“Our goal is to provide all foster children the right placement at the right time so they can be safe and thrive,” said Fariborz Pakseresht, Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) director. “We will depend on our partners in communities throughout Oregon to help us provide children the most appropriate setting to meet their needs and promote their healthy development.”
The settlement agreement filed in federal court sets deadlines for dramatically reducing the practice of lodging children brought into state protective care in hotel and motel rooms or child welfare offices. It applies to all children in foster care.
* Incrementally reducing the number of foster children who are temporarily lodged in hotel or motel rooms to no more than 24 per year statewide by the end of the year 2020.
* Children younger than age 11 may not be lodged in hotel rooms for more than five nights, and children ages 11 to 17 and in Dept. of Health Services (DHS) care must spend no more than 12 nights in a hotel or motel, with limited exceptions.
* If children must be lodged temporarily at a hotel, DHS must ensure that the child is transported to school, with limited exceptions. Age-appropriate activities must be available to those who are not in school.
* DHS is not permitted to temporarily lodge children in child welfare offices, except under extremely limited circumstances.
* DHS has also agreed to hire an expert to uncover the root causes of these temporary emergency placements and to assist the agency and its partners in finding alternatives to the practice.
“State child welfare officials and children’s advocates agreed that we all want to see children placed in stable and safe home-like settings that are close to their family and school,” said Richard Vangelisti, guardian for two girls ages 4 and 6 at the time the lawsuit was filed and who were designated as plaintiffs in the suit.
CASA for Children, Inc. was also a plaintiff in the suit, which had not sought monetary damages.
“This settlement agreement will require us to work together. Our shared priority has always been finding the best solution for the children,” said Betsy Stark-Miller, http://www.redmondnewstoday.com/?p=153288&preview=truepresident of the Oregon CASA Network Board of Directors. “We all must do whatever we can to ensure that every child brought into state foster care is able to transition appropriately to a permanent, safe and caring home.”