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At least 15 dead as severe weather sweeps across central US; on Memorial Day, IA labor leaders honor fallen workers; Medical center installs microgrid to safeguard clinic power supply; 'Second look' laws gain traction, but MS sticks to elderly parole; Will summer heat melt New Mexicans' cravings for ice cream?

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One congressman cites ways Biden could get more support from communities of color. A new Louisiana law reclassifies two abortion medications as controlled substances. And Ohio advocates work to boost youth voter turnout.

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Smokey Bear thought only "you" could prevent forest fires, but decomposing mushrooms may also help, a Native American community in Oregon is achieving healthcare sovereignty, and Colorado farmers hope fast-maturing, drought-tolerant seeds will better handle climate change.

Report: Too Many OR Children in Long-Term Foster Care

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Thursday, March 27, 2014   

SALEM, Ore. – The next generation of Oregonians is being challenged by poverty and all its ramifications, according to a new report from Children First for Oregon.

Of the 25 indicators of well-being for children summarized in the report, one statistic is that more than one-third of children age nine and older in foster care has been there two years or longer.

Pamela Butler, CFFO child welfare policy manager, says smaller child welfare budgets and higher caseloads have left almost 1,700 children in long-term limbo, when more effort could change that.

"Yes, it is an extra workload, but I think it pays off,” she says. “Those outcomes for youth who stay in the system are so bad, it's time to invest in the kids who are in the system now and find them families – so that when they leave, they have people that care about them and they're not on their own."

The report says more children are placed in foster care in Oregon than in almost any other state, partly because of the strict way the state defines abuse and neglect and takes swift action to remove children from those situations.

Just last month, Oregon began a new approach to reducing long-term foster care by giving specific cases more individual attention. Kathy Prouty, the state's Child Permanency and Adoption Program manager, describes brainstorming sessions – called permanency roundtables – involving caseworkers, supervisors and child welfare experts.

"The worker comes away with an action plan,” she explains, “that's really, intently focused on, how do we move this child into either reunification – if we need to figure out how to work differently with parents – or into legal permanency, which is defined as guardianship or adoption."

Prouty says the roundtables began in Multnomah County, which is where the greatest number of foster children reside, and will continue across the state in the coming months.



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