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Think Out Loud

Sealing the Cracks in Foster Care

Pete Springer/OPB

Families caring for foster children have a tricky relationship with the state. In Oregon, Department of Human Services social workers provide support and resources for foster parents. Often, they get to know the parents well. In some cases, the same social worker who recruited and selected a foster parent is later charged with ensuring that the parent is acting in the best interest of their foster child.

Sounds reasonable, right? One person in charge of a foster care family seems like an effective, efficient approach. But what happens (pdf) in rare cases when the foster parents aren’t doing what’s best for the child — or worse, neglecting or abusing the child?

OPB’s Rob Manning joins us Friday to talk about his reporting on case workers in charge of the foster parents that they selected. You can catch his story on Morning Edition Friday, and we’ve linked to it here.

OPB has also reported on the problems DHS has keeping up with the flood of abuse calls, and computer problems that let children who may be abused slip through gaps in the system. DHS says its aware of the gaps and is in the process of analyzing them.

And, in national news this week: the first child welfare case to be heard by the Supreme Court of the United States in the last 21 years is out of Oregon.

Have you been - or do you want to become - a foster parent? What do you think works or doesn’t work about the current system? If you are a DHS caseworker, how would you like the system to change?

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