The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) exists to provide care and assistance for Oregonians who cannot care for themselves. This includes providing social services and setting up foster care arrangements for children and individuals with disabilities, as well as long-term or in-home care for senior citizens. However, in recent months – or years – tragic flaws have been uncovered in the foster care system run by DHS. Mistakes by DHS workers have been linked to serious injuries on numerous occasions. Victims of these injuries have important legal rights but need the right legal representation to hold DHS fully accountable for any negligent or wrongful actions.
Mistakes Related to Foster Homes
DHS is currently facing allegations of knowingly leaving three children in harm’s way and covering up the situation. Three children were placed in a home that was allegedly unfit for foster care. According to the complaint, the foster parents had no childcare experience and their home was small, unheated, had rotting walls, mold, dust, dangerous furniture, and strong odors of cat urine. The foster parents were also allegedly emotionally unstable. Despite the knowledge and observations of dangerous conditions by caseworkers, three children were placed and left in the home at ages five, two, and ten months.
All three children began to show signs of physical abuse causing a variety of injuries. The foster mother told DHS that the two older children were hurting themselves. In 2013, the foster father admitted to physically assaulting the youngest child, causing seven fractured bones. While the man was convicted and sentenced to three years of probation, DHS allowed the children to remain in the home. In 2017, the man confessed to sexually molesting the oldest daughter for years. He has been sentenced to 30 years in prison and a $100 million lawsuit has been filed against DHS for its mistakes, as well as actively covering up the mistakes.
A recent audit of the Oregon DHS foster system was titled, “Foster Care in Oregon: Chronic management failures and high caseloads jeopardize the safety of some of the state’s most vulnerable children.” The audit acknowledged extreme flaws in the management system of DHS, which puts foster children and disabled adults at the serious risk of harm. While the people of Oregon should be able to trust DHS, the agency has instead caused serious physical and mental injuries in recent years.
Children and adults injured