Politics

Oregon cancels contract with nonprofit that places foster care kids in unlicensed short-term rentals

By Lauren Dake (OPB)
Dec. 6, 2023 1:37 a.m.

Dynamic Life received more than $7.75 million to help provide support services to about 40 kids

A pair of shoes, in the doorway of a home

Oregon child welfare officials have spent years struggling to find appropriate places to house the state’s most vulnerable children.

Illustration by Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

A little more than a year ago, the state of Oregon’s Department of Human Services signed a lucrative contract with a religious nonprofit paying them an extraordinary sum of money: up to $2,916 per day for every child placed in their care.

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Now, after mounting scrutiny, the state’s child welfare division is canceling the short-lived contract. Dynamic Life received more than $7.75 million to help provide support services to about 40 kids at risk of temporary lodging and to those already in temporary lodging, such as a hotel or short-term rental.

State officials declined to say why the contract was being canceled, other than that it was “convenient for the state to cancel the contract.”

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OPB wrote about the nonprofit Dynamic Life Inc. last month, noting the organization grew at a shocking rate over a short time fueled by taxpayers’ dollars and placed children in unlicensed short-term rental homes. Several attorneys and children’s advocates raised questions about the type of care children were receiving when placed with Dynamic Life.

Related: Oregon is placing foster children in unlicensed short-term rental homes and paying millions to do so

Oregon child welfare officials have spent years struggling to find appropriate places to house the state’s most vulnerable children. Placing children in the care of Dynamic Life was the latest iteration of a desperate child welfare system continually plagued by problems, lawsuits and criticism. The practice had gone unpublicized, but inquiries into the new arrangement by OPB and attorneys representing children in foster care spurred the state to examine it more closely.

Nathan Webber, who started Dynamic Life and up until recently was the CEO, has been involved with the state for more than a decade, initially working with Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities Services starting in 2013.

His contract with developmental disabilities services will continue.

“We are regularly monitoring the safety and well-being of the clients they are serving,” said Jake Sunderland, a spokesman for the state’s Department of Human Services, adding that they are all safe.

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