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Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden Pushes Bill To Keep Kids Out Of Foster Care


Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says his goal is to reduce the need for foster care by giving more families more resources.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., says his goal is to reduce the need for foster care by giving more families more resources.

Lauren Victoria Burke/AP

Oregon is in the middle of a foster care crisis: Kids are being housed in hotels and state offices because homes can’t be found.

Sen. Ron Wyden said one way to reduce the crisis is to take fewer kids out of family homes. But that means spending more money on things like parenting education, substance abuse programs and mental health services.

“My goal is to ultimately reduce the need for foster care in the first place by giving more families more resources to safely stay together and avoid the trauma of unnecessary foster care stays,” he said.

But Richard Wexler of the National Coalition For Child Protection Reform is not a fan of the bill. He said it enshrines in the law the double standard that pervades American child welfare: services to keep families together must meet tests that are almost impossibly high before being deemed “evidence-based.”

But to keep right on using the worst form of care — group homes and institutions — no evidence is required: just more paperwork.

Wyden introduced the “Family First Prevention Services Act” a year and a half ago. But it passed in the House last month. He now hopes to push it through the Senate under the unanimous consent process before Congress wraps up in August.

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