Oregon system

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Oregon system

Postby Marina » Sat Sep 29, 2007 7:10 am


http://www.oregonlive.com/news/oregonia ... xml&coll=7

Report faults welfare workers

Child care - DHS knew a Gresham couple had criminal histories before they were given a girl who later suffered injuries

Thursday, September 27, 2007AIMEE GREEN The Oregonian Staff

While Portland police continue to investigate why a 2-year-old girl in state custody ended up in critical condition with brain injuries in June, a recently released state report says child-welfare workers made mistakes when they placed the girl in a Gresham couple's home.

Child-welfare workers apparently didn't interview the 36-year-old father before certifying him as a foster parent, nor did workers make sure he took the required 10 hours of training before sending children to live in his house.

Child-welfare workers also knew that Cesar Cruz-Reyes had a criminal history, which included lying to police. They knew his wife, Michele Cruz-Reyes, had a criminal history, too. But the state did not find their run-ins with the law significant enough to reject the couple's application to become foster parents.

What's more, administrators with the Oregon Department of Human Services are trying to figure out when workers learned that Cesar Cruz-Reyes operated under "a number of aliases" and whether they checked those aliases for criminal records.

That's according to the first state report released last week into why toddler Stephanie Kuntupis lost consciousness and collapsed June 22 in her foster parents' home. She was rushed to Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital with bleeding around her brain. She remained there for two months. Stephanie's birth father, Stephen Kuntupis, calls his daughter's progress "a miracle recovery." But Stephanie's mother, Monique Peals, added that her daughter still has some vision loss and has difficulty walking and talking at a 2-year-old level.

"It's all a big shame," Peals said. "My baby never should have went through what she went through. Not a day goes by where I don't think about how this happened because some people weren't doing their jobs."

Kuntupis and Peals lost custody of their daughter after police arrested them Jan. 31, 2007, for possessing methamphetamine. The two have been in drug treatment since then. Peals said she's frustrated that they are still fighting to get their daughter back when the Department of Human Services entrusts foster children to people with criminal histories.

"I think it's crazy how they expect us to be 100 perfect," Peals said.

Neither Cesar nor Michele Cruz-Reyes returned a phone call seeking comment. They have not been charged with any crime in relation to Stephanie's injuries.

Another toddler in the Cruz-Reyes' care also went to a doctor approximately 10 days before Stephanie was injured. According to that child's mother, Jessica Padilla, her daughter had two black eyes, red and purple marks on her neck and a patch of missing hair.


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Postby Marina » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:02 pm


http://www.kmtr.com/news/state/story.as ... 07&rss=192

plan hopes to keep mother, children together during drug rehab

SALEM, Ore. (AP) - Treatment for drug addiction often tears families apart, sending children to foster care while mothers undergo court-ordered rehab.

But in Salem a new Union Gospel Mission program hopes to keep that from happening for a few women, at least, by giving them a place where they can keep custody of their children while they straighten out.

The mission has purchased a Salem house it is preparing for as many as six mothers and their children.

Mission director Tom Zobel says the aim is to keep mother-child bond that could be lost if the mother is in jail.

The mission has drug counseling programs to men and women, but nothing that allows children to stay with their mothers during treatment. The mission plans to have the house opened by mid-January.

Marion County Circuit Judge Pamela Abernethy, who oversees the county's juvenile justice system, said it will fill a large need in the community.

One other Salem are facility, Cascadia Gateway, has a similar program and is overwhelmed with applicants.


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Postby Marina » Sat Aug 23, 2008 6:16 pm

http://www.theskanner.com/index.php?act ... artid=7125

Grandmother Refuses to Give Up
After grandchildren are adopted out, Carollyn Smith doubles efforts
By Brian Stimson of The Skanner

Carollyn Smith’s fight continues, but she may be running out of time. Smith has been battling state Child Services since 2005 for custody of two grandchildren, Kofi and C’Lynn, ages 7 and 4, who have lived much of their short lives in the foster care system. Now, they could end up living the rest of their lives without their biological family.

Kofi and C’Lynn, who were taken from their mother after Kofi tested positive for cocaine, were adopted out to a non-biological family. Smith, who already has custody of five of Kofi and C’Lynn’s brothers and sisters, almost gained custody of the two in November when a judge said the children could reside in her house. That decision was appealed by a Court Appointed Special Advocate and in the meantime, the adoptive family gained custody.

Smith says in October the adoption will become final – permanently separating the family. Smith has been trying to gain custody of them for nearly three years. The new adoptive family tried for less than a year.

“Why not me?” says Smith, who spent most many days last year holding a one-woman protest in front of the Department of Human Services offices on Alberta Street and Williams Avenue. “What is the problem?”

Officials at Child Services could not comment specifically on the case due to privacy laws. Officials, by law, are supposed to give family priority when determining custody. But in 2007, only 34 percent of foster homes were certified as relatives and 37.5 percent of adoptions went to relatives. The remaining 24.5 percent of adoptions went to non-relatives, and 38 percent to non-related foster parents. Social workers are bound by state guidelines for adoptions and foster parent agreements.

Smith says she was told by a caseworker early on in the process that she was too old, didn’t have a big enough house and she couldn’t provide adequate protection to the children.

However, while Oregon law states that a “certified family” can’t contain more than four children if only one adult is present, it also allows program managers to make exceptions. Kofi and C’Lynn’s adoptive family, according to Smith, has seven children. It is not clear how many of the children previously in the adoptive home are biological children.

Chirece Jones, a former member of the now-defunct Sisters in Action for Power, is helping Smith to organize, although she admits protesting the policies of Child Services is difficult. During a recent protest in Salem, she says lawmakers largely pretended not to hear.

“We didn’t get a lot of response from people in Salem,” she said. “It’s hard to have an agenda when brick walls go up everywhere.”

Child Services told The Skanner that they were working on several initiatives to address the disproportional number of minority children in the foster care system.

Susan Detlefsen is involved in the organization Mother Interrupted which calls for reform and more transparency with Child Services.
“The problem has been ongoing for over two decades,” she said. “As soon as enough people figure out the truth about CPS, I believe we can put an end to it.”

Smith mainly just wants her family intact, but she says she will continue her fight against Child Services.
“I will continue until they do right by my grandkids and everybody else’s grandkids,” she said.

If the adoption is ruled final in October, it becomes “permanent and life long” according to Child Services. All visitation schedules must be approved by the court and the adoptive family. And if the adoptive family doesn’t want their adopted son and daughter to see their biological relatives, they are allowed to do that, by law.

Smith says she’s not allowed to call or write to her grandchildren. All contact must go through the adoptive parents.
Smith has another visit with her grandchildren on the Aug. 27, but after that, she says she’s been told it’ll be once a year – if that arrangement pleases the adoptive family, that is.

Grandparents Raising Grandchildren meets monthly. For more information call 503-484-6988.

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Postby Marina » Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:04 pm

http://www.bendbulletin.com/apps/pbcs.d ... /812290317

Speeding up the courts

Published: December 29. 2008 4:00AM PST

The Oregon Court of Appeals did a survey in 2007 and found that people who went through its court thought it took too long, whether they had won or lost their case. Chief Judge David Brewer and others have done something to speed things up.

Brewer and court staff created a special docket to move cases more swiftly, especially for child custody battles and parental rights terminations. According to The Register-Guard in Eugene, appellants can get quicker resolution if they agree to present their cases in briefs rather than through oral argument. It has meant that with the help of some retired senior judges, the court is processing about 40 more cases a month than it had been.

The court set a goal: Decide every juvenile case within 90 days of parties filing their briefs or oral arguments. That’s about a month faster than it had been in previous years. So far, the court has met its goal in all juvenile cases but one. The court also set a goal for itself of processing other cases within 180 days.

Out of the 300,000 state circuit court cases every year, some 4,000 are appealed. The Oregon Court of Appeals must hear every one. It doesn’t get a choice, like the Oregon Supreme Court does. The quantity resulted in a backlog of cases at the Oregon Court of Appeals and slower resolution.

The National Center for State Courts recognized what Brewer and others at the Oregon Court of Appeals achieved with an award.

The real winners are Orego- nians.

Speeding up juvenile cases by a month may not seem like much. But for families moored in the middle of the cases, that month surely matters.

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Joined: Sat Feb 25, 2006 3:06 pm

Postby Marina » Sat Jan 10, 2009 7:49 pm

http://www.oregonlive.com/clackamascoun ... r_for.html

Appeals court blocks order for state to bail out rape suspect

by Steve Mayes, The Oregonian
Tuesday January 06, 2009, 1:15 PM

The Oregon Court of Appeals temporarily blocked a judge's order requiring a state agency to provide bail for a child-rape suspect so the man could help plan care for his 13-year-old son.

The Department of Human Services filed the appeal after Clackamas County Circuit Judge Deanne Darling ordered the state to pay $50,000 bail or otherwise arrange Russell Paul Hamblen's release from jail.

Hamblen, 50, was arrested in April on dozens of rape, sodomy and sexual abuse charges involving teenage girls and providing alcohol to minors. Another son, who is 19, also was arrested in connection with the crimes and has been sentenced to prison.

Hamblen's 13-year-old son is in foster care. Hamblen's wife, Christine, has drug and alcohol problems and currently is unable to adequately care for the child, Darling found. Christine Hamblen pleaded guilty last month to drunken driving last month and was arrested Dec. 27 on drug and other charges.

Darling's order caused a public uproar and outraged Oregonians questioned her decision, given the gravity of the crimes attributed to Hamblen.

A DHS manager told Darling last month that posting Hamblen's bail would be inappropriate use of public money.

The appeals court has not scheduled a hearing on the DHS appeal, but the matter may become moot. Hamblen goes to trial on Jan. 27 and if convicted could face a length prison sentence.

The appeals court would not release a copy of the stay issued in late December, citing a state law that exempts juvenile court records from public disclosure.

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