Of course we knew too much about it before it broke in the papers. David Paul’s case on behalf of the Collins twins against Oregon’s Department of Human Services is winding to a close. A detailed report here appeared in the Sunday Oregonian. David has done another masterful job of representing kids who fall off the radar.
The article details the worst kind of abuse and neglect. The foster parents claim that they did nothing wrong. Anyone who reads the article can only wonder how anyone could treat innocent kids this way.
David’s most important work here is shining a light on the abuse and the neglect. It would thrill us both silly if this is the last case of DHS neglect and foster parent abuse that Oregon ever sees.
For any of us who have had to place a child in daycare, there’s that haunting fear in the background about whether our children will be safe. Unfortunately, it’s easy for unregistered childcare providers to operate in Oregon. Under the applicable rules, small operators do not need to be licensed. But even those care centers that should have a license can apparently operate without getting licensed.
This is one more example of the frightening effects of deregulation. We’re told that regulation is bad and that taxes and government services are worse. And so there is no one watching to make sure that daycare providers comply with the law. While it might seem like apples and oranges, I can’t help but think about the link between this sad story and the FAA inspectors who faced retaliation for blowing the whistle on safety problems at Southwest Airlines.
I suppose that if I were looking after my own self-interest, I would welcome this era in silence. After all, I’m the guy that gets the call to represent the profoundly injured child or the whistle-blowing airline employee. So deregulation, which means more injuries, is good for the trial lawyers. Ain’t that a great irony?
I awoke sadly to the news in today’s paper about a[nother] death involving a child associated with Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS). Here is the link to the story, but why read it? link Our state’s track record may be worse news.
The death of this precious little child is tragic. Too tragic for words. But what is the lesson here? Oregon was one of 15 states to undergo a second round of the federal Child and Family Services Reviews (CFSR). The 2007 CFSR process focused on improving safety, permanency and well-being of children in the state’s child welfare system.
The review had three components:
1. a statewide assessment;
2. an on-site review of case files; and
3. Program Improvement Plan (PIP) to address any areas found to need improvement.
1. a statewide assessment;
Unfortunately, Oregon’s grade fell [far] below national standards. In issues dealing with protecting children from abuse and neglect, the state’s grade was a dismal 62.5%. In other words, there was approximately 37% where the state failed to achieve “substantial compliance” with federal standards for protecting youth from abuse or neglect. We all would like to see a number that is far higher, especially where the measurement is simple compliance with minimal standards.
When a state is not able to successfully complete its Program Improvement Plan, federal penalties may be imposed. But, people, what penalty is worse than a[nother] death of an innocent child?
I am ready to demand success here. Isn’t it time we wonder how many failing grades our largest state agency must suffer through before more accountability is required? Oregon’s dismal track record is explored here: link
I am handling cases involving severe injuries to at least four children who were permanently injured while in the care of DHS foster parents or licensed group homes. I wonder if our state agency can appreciate that as citizens we all demand better than a failing grade. The state laws explicitly say that children are our highest priority. I am ready to make that promise stick; I hope you are too.