Child Deaths Stack in Oregon Foster Care

Child Death Justice

We – Robert and Kathey Raskin – believe in enforcing the laws already on the books. They’re right, and they do what they’re supposed to do. In Oregon, the law requires child welfare officials to promptly review the deaths of children killed by abuse or neglect in the year before they died. The bill was supposed to provide oversight for the overworked caseworkers, helping them identify any missteps that may have occurred before the death of the child. From there, solutions would be provided to fix what wrong so that they don’t happen again.

Failure to Follow the Law

The local press has reported and showed that the Department of Human Services failed to meet existing deadlines to follow the law to the letter. By sheer incompetence, they knowingly and gradually told the public less about the department’s preemptive actions, if at all. The blatant lack of respect for the law is nonsense. What is going on in Oregon that we can’t protect children? The department’s backlog of unreported child deaths stretches as far back as 2017.

A seven-month-old infant died after being thrown from a car that veered off Interstate 84 near Boardman, Oregon, court documents say. The department – who was familiar with this family – barely launched a review nine days after police concluded the driver was drunk. This bureaucratic approach helps no one, and a more mindful approach about the family’s situation brought an unnecessary death.

Failing the Children

Of 14 categories related to child welfare, a Child and Family Services Review shows Oregon DHS failed unconditionally. We know that is patently absurd.

The Types of CPS Reports and Understanding Your Situation

If you’ve found yourself at this blog, the chances are that you are involved in allegations against you from CPS or another like entity in your location. As a parent, you may not experience anything more heart-wrenching than to have your children taken from you without due process. You’d be surprised about how much that these types of cases have in common. There are typically three types of CPS reports, and knowing your situation could help you understand what courses of action to take in order to improve the outcome.

Child Neglect or Abuse

Not all CPS reports are unfounded. There are people out there who abuse unlawful substances and/or intentionally hurt, abuse, or molest their children. Child Protective Services is called because of bruises beyond what normal children naturally occur or because of evidence of malnutrition. These instances are what CPS should be trying to stop. However, if you’re doing your research on this specific topic, it’s unlikely that you abuse your children and are probably finding an overwhelming amount of corruption in the system because of money and greed. It’s more pertinent to the topic at hand to discuss the other two types of situations.

Being Victimized by a Personal Vendetta

It’s not uncommon for individuals to use children in order to get back at someone for real or perceived injustices against them. CPS is then used as a weapon in order to exact their own personal brand of revenge. Why a parent would exploit their kids in this way is beyond me, but I have witnessed it first-hand.

Imagine an ex-spouse is only granted custody of their child on weekends because they’re unemployed and the other parent is more well-equipped to be a provider. Let’s also say that on one such weekend, that individual takes their child and promptly files a restraining order against the custodial parent, claiming that they’re physically abusive. In this particular case, the court granted the restraining order, did not send the child back to the custodial parent, and began a lengthy court case based on zero evidence, costing the first parent an exorbitant amount of lawyer fees, etc. This all happened out of the spite of the first individual. Lengthy court battles can be costly, and for families that can’t afford legal fees, such circumstances can be simply detrimental, especially to the well-being of the child.

Flat-Out Corruption in the System

Because of the loopholes in the “Adoption and Safe Families Act” (1974), it’s not uncommon for some social workers to be motivated by financial incentives to make allegations against families. They, along with the corrupt judges on their side, receive financial kickbacks for every child that is adopted out of foster care, so the more children that are put into the system, the more money they receive. This flaw in the system is what Nancy Schaefer spent her political career trying to fight, and it’s what unjustly victimizes many families across the country.

With this type of case, you may find that a social worker is being overzealous about normal parenting struggles and blowing circumstances out of proportion in order to make you look bad. Last year, CPS in Florida took an eleven-year-old from his parents because he was playing outside, waiting for his parents to come home since he had forgotten his house key. He was alone for only 90 minutes, but the parents were arrested for negligence despite there being no minimum age for supervision to be required and had to be subjected to parenting classes, forced to pay for day care, and to admit they were wrong for letting their child play outside. Let’s also note that the boy was in the yard within view of the home.

Battling corruption in the system is even more difficult than proving that you’re being victimized by someone’s personal vendetta. That’s why it’s important to continue to raise awareness about the problems in the system.

A Judge in Texas Gets it Right!

As our child welfare system continues to deteriorate nationwide, it was a breath of fresh air to hear that a federal judge has come to the same conclusion. In Austin, a Federal Judge ruled that the state of Texas has violated foster children’s constitutional rights to be free from an unreasonable risk of harm, stating that children “often age out of care more damaged than when they entered.”

This is just a first step in examining a very flawed system that’s based on an extremely slippery slope. The ruling states, “Years of abuse, neglect and shuttling between inappropriate placements across the state has created a population that cannot contribute to society, and proves a continued strain on the government through welfare, incarceration or otherwise.”

The class-action lawsuit was served by the an advocacy group named Children’s Rights, Inc, and the suit argued that Texas caseworkers are currently assigned too many children for them to effectively monitor, and that the children are being placed too far away from their original home, many times in settings where they are not receiving adequate care.

U.S. District Judge Janis Jack was asked to order the state to take greater steps in hiring more caseworkers to alleviate the problem of insurmountable case loads, an issue of which Judge Jack met head on. The judge also mandated that the state should stop placing certain foster children in unsafe placements which include group homes that do not have 24 hour supervision.

Texas’ Child Protective Services division is one of the largest child abuse investigation and foster care services. A ruling in favor of Children’s Rights will make substantial changes at the agency, and will force state lawmakers to reconvene for a special legislative session with a special emphasis on reform.

This is one major step towards nationwide recognition of a system that shatters parents and families every day. Education is always key, and without it we will be unable to address and tackle an epidemic of this kind. There’s strength in numbers, and the movement to protect our families just gained a ton of momentum. We must fight this horribly inefficient, biased and unethical system – one step at a time. This was a step in the right direction.