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One of the many confusing things about DHS is that the level of proof is "reasonable cause to believe" whereas, in the criminal justice world it is "beyond a reasonable doubt." Also, DHS doesn't always travel the same path as law enforcement and may choose to pursue removal even though law enforcement does not charge or prosecute. I know this sounds frustrating, but DHS is about more about child protection and less about criminal prosecution.
Another element that is unique to Oregon is "threat of harm." If there is a significant threat of harm posed by an adult, or older child in the home, a child can be removed, even if that particular child has not been abused.
An example would be a sex offender living in a home with children. The child living in the home may not have experienced any abuse, but because of the sex offender's history, the sex offeder poses a risk, or "threat of harm" to the child. In that scenario, a child may be removed, or, preferrably, the sex offender would move out and the parent would behave in an appropriate fashion to keep the child safe. DHS might offer the sex offender a "risk assessment" to help determine the level of risk the offeder actually poses to children.
I believe the 60 day home study dead line is part of the ICPC which is a federal law.
Another situation in which DHS may seek removal of children despite lack of criminal charges is if the child is non verbal. For instance, an infant receives a burn, broken bones, etc and law enforcement is unable to determine which adult in the home caused the injury (which must be determined medically as "non accidental") and the child being non verbal is unable to disclose. In such cases, perhaps no one is ever charged, but DHS proceeds, based on the medical findings, that the child is not safe in the care of any of the adults in the home.
Another avenue you may want to pursue is to call the Governor's Advocacy Office (Oregon) and explain the situation to them. They contact DHS, usually the supervisor, sometimes the branch manager, to find out what is going on and to try and assist citizens in navigating and/or understanding the situation.
Hope this helps.
posted 2 years, 3 months ago
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