Buehler demands action to protect vulnerable Oregon foster children

Governor Brown, the energy tax can wait – these vulnerable Oregon children cannot.– Rep. Knute Buehler

 This morning State Representative Knute Buehler called on Governor Kate Brown and his colleagues in the legislature to protect the 8,000 Oregon children in the state’s foster care system.

“Governor Brown, the energy tax can wait – these vulnerable Oregon children cannot,” Buehler said. “This is a situation that is heartbreaking to me and should not be tolerated in the Oregon that we all love. As leaders and citizens, we owe these kids, families and case-workers so much more than they are getting right now.”

Buehler was reacting to an audit released last week by Secretary of State Dennis Richardson that details years of mismanagement, indecision and disorganization that resulted in more than $39 million of lawsuits, and years of neglect and abuse for Oregon’s most vulnerable children.

Buehler specifically called on the Governor and the legislature to find more funding for the agency in the 2018 session and asked them to “dedicate ourselves the next 35 days to doing what it takes to rescue these kids, support these families, and reform and fund a broken Foster Care system.” He specifically challenged them to find an initial $50 million in the budget to gotowards the creation of a Rapid Improvement Team and corresponding funding for them to immediately stabilize the Foster Care program this session. The team’s focus will be rapid implementation of the 24 recommendations outlined in the audit and accepted by the agency for improvement.

The audit also highlighted high staff turnover because of a persistent culture of bullying, intimidation and verbal abuse. Buehler closed with a message to the men and women who work in the Department of Human Services, specifically those in the Foster Care program. 

“You are on the front-lines everyday as public servants who deserve respect, not intimidation. To each of you – and particularly those that speak truth to power – thank you.”