Published: January 31, 2018
An SEIU member speaks into a microphone at a podium in fron tof a large rally crowd gathered on the steps of the Oregon State Capitol.

Caseworker Sasha Sergeeva speaks to a crowd at the Oregon Capitol about the need to invest in child welfare (June, 2017).

Today the Oregon Secretary of State released an audit of Oregon’s foster care program. The audit, which is highly critical of DHS management, calls on the state to hire more than 700 new caseworkers and invest more resources in foster parent support. The following is a statement from your DHS/OHA Local 200 Statewide officers:

We want to thank our union members who have spoken up and shared their stories. We also want to thank the auditors who brought those workers’ realities into the spotlight through this audit. Unfortunately, most of the information in this audit is all too familiar to those of us who do this work every day. It underscores the deficiencies in the program that child welfare workers have spoken about repeatedly.

We are here to support the workers. To ensure they continue to be heard and are active participants in helping the agency resolve these issues. The workers actually doing the work are in the best position to let management know what they need. Management needs to be receptive to that input and provide not only opportunities, but resources for those workers to fully participate in problem solving venues.

It can’t stop there though. The audit makes it clear that the legislature also has a responsibility. We can’t meet these challenges with currently allocated resources. We hope this audit’s findings will provide the motivation needed to finally see a much greater investment in this critical program.

We also need more quality foster care home options. That’s going to require Oregonians to step up and be part of the solution as well. Whether that’s applying to be a foster parent or supporting existing foster parents through organizations like Embrace Oregon, there is room for everyone.

It’s true that we invest in what we value. It is past time we invest in the workers who show up every day and strive to keep children safe.

Thank you for all you continue to do to achieve this mission. Your efforts are valued and more appreciated than you know.

In Unity,

DHS/OHA Local 200 Statewide officers
Rhonda Morgan -President
Tifini Linford -Vice President
Deanna Boylan -Secretary
Wayne Ground -Treasurer