Federal study finds Oregon’s child welfare system falls short of standards

A new federal study finds Oregon’s child welfare system is failing across the board when it comes to keeping thousands of children in state care safe and healthy.

According to the report, caseworkers are still taking too long to check on allegations of abuse and neglect, with just more than half of investigations completed on time. Even in the most serious cases, where check-ins are required within 24 hours, the state met that goal less than two-thirds of the time.

“Oregon is trending in the wrong direction,” the report said.

The state has also struggled to keep children who’ve been abused from enduring new harm, either in state custody or after they leave it. Parents aren’t able to see their children as often as they should.

And obtaining mental health treatment has been a challenge, with foster families unwilling to sign up and private agencies finding it difficult to hire qualified staff. Available foster homes have fallen from 4,229 in 2013 to 3,847 in 2015.