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Is Oregon's Foster Care system in CRISIS ?

It looks the system that was meant to protect our children when parents fail to do their job is not doing much better at protecting them. Sometimes the kids would be better off staying with the biological parents then under the custody of the state. Give the parents the services they need or else then to take the children into care. Let not overload an already over burdened system of foster parents and caseworkers. The Oregon DHS is having trouble maintaining its ranks of caseworkers and support staff. I have heard from many who have just up and resigned their position with the department. What is going on inside those walls no one may ever know?
The article in today's Oregonian seems to lend itself to more questions then answers. These questions need to be asked of the state.
See my questions / comments at the bottom of the page.

* * * * * * * * * * The article from the The Oregonian * * * * * * * * * *
Foster child unconscious in hospital

Abuse - Police are looking into how Stephanie Kuntupis, 2, received severe head injuries and whether it was deliberate
Wednesday, June 27, 2007
AIMEE GREEN and ELIZABETH SUH
The Oregonian Staff
A 2-year-old girl is fighting for her life after suffering brain injuries while in state-sponsored foster care, and police are investigating what happened.
Stephanie Kuntupis has been unconscious in the Intensive Care Unit of Legacy Emanuel Children's Hospital since Friday, according to her mother, Monique Peals.
Peals and her husband, Stephen Kuntupis, lost custody of their daughter earlier this year after police arrested them for possessing methamphetamine. The parents are in drug treatment, and have been allowed to see Stephanie during supervised visits.

It's unclear how Stephanie was injured and whether it was an accident or deliberate act.
No one has been charged with a crime.
Portland police Sgt. Brian Schmautz said he couldn't comment on whether a criminal investigation was under way. However, state officials and the parents said police are making inquiries.
Patricia Feeny, spokeswoman for the Oregon Department of Human Services, said she could not comment on the case because of state and federal child privacy laws. She said her department is in the early stages of an investigation.

Monday the state released a report that found child abuse and neglect in Oregon are at a 10-year high.

Peals and Kuntupis said they have been complaining for months that their daughter was being physically abused, but Department of Human Services caseworkers, they said, did not take the complaints seriously.

The parents said they're unsure whether their daughter will ever fully recover. Tuesday doctors inserted tubes in Stephanie's head, to drain fluids from around her brain, her parents said.

"For months we've been saying 'What are these bruises, bumps and abrasions on my daughter?' And it fell on deaf ears," Kuntupis said. "It's an outrage what's been going on."

Peals said when she last saw her daughter on a supervised visit Thursday, she noticed the child was lethargic and cranky and had a large bump on her head. The next day, the girl was in the hospital.

Michele Cruz-Reyes, who has been Stephanie's foster mother for four months, said she suspects Stephanie was hurt sometime during her visit with Peal. Cruz-Reyes said even though the visits are supposed to be supervised, she's picked up Stephanie when no state worker was in sight.

"She came back from visiting her mom Thursday and just wasn't herself," Cruz-Reyes said. "She was very fussy."
Cruz-Reyes said Stephanie collapsed shortly after she woke up Friday morning.

Cruz-Reyes said she and her husband, Cesar Cruz-Reyes, had not physically abused Stephanie. Michele Cruz-Reyes said she always called caseworkers to report any bumps or bruises that showed up after normal play.

"The mom overreacts to everything," Cruz-Reyes said.

However, Peals said she told the Department of Human Services that her daughter had a 2-inch by 3-inch scab on her chin, scratches on her cheeks and bumps on her head in the weeks before she went to the hospital.

"Every week there was something new," Peals said.

Immediately after Stephanie was hospitalized, child-protection workers removed two other foster children from the Cruz-Reyes home, standard practice in such cases.
Michele Cruz-Reyes says she's been a foster parent since 2005.

Peals and Kuntupis lost custody of Stephanie, as well as their 13-year-old son, after their Jan. 31 arrest for possessing methamphetamine. Peals said she went to the hospital after having a bad reaction to the drug, and hospital workers reported her to police. Police showed up at their motel and arrested them both. They were convicted in February and March of possessing meth and endangering the welfare of a minor.
She and her husband are now trying to regain custody.

"I know I've made mistakes," Peals said. "But I've been doing everything that has been asked of me."
Peals said she is angry she didn't learn of Stephanie's injuries until the day after she was taken to the hospital. She's also frustrated that police haven't made any arrests.
Peals and Kuntupis called The Oregonian on Tuesday to draw public attention to what happened to their child.

Peals said her daughter didn't speak much before the brain injury, but she knew how to say "Thank you," "You're welcome" and "I love you." Peals said she was a smiley little girl who loved to dance, eat fried rice and give handshakes to most everyone she encountered.

Now, Peals said, "she doesn't look very good. She has tubes coming out of her head."
Aimee Green:503-294-5119;  aimeegreen@news.oregonian.com
* * * * * * * * * * The end of the article from the The Oregonian * * * * * * * * * *


Questions to be Asked:

1. Why didn't the DHS respond to the concerns of the parents made about the physical abuse they were seeing every week during visitation?

Was the agency too busy stringing these parents along so that they could MAKE them complete all required services or were they trying to collect more disclosures to finalize a TPR process against these parents?

2. How many times must the biological parents complain to the DHS before they will react to the situation that is at hand? Or DHS waits until something serve must happen to these kids before it does its job?

These parents have no one to turn to for help when the state is failing to do its job as the Guardians' of there children. Who do they turn to? They made repeated complaints to agency with NO ONE LISTENING to them.

3. The foster parents have raised concerns about the Lack Of Supervision by the DHS. Who do these folks go to when they see issues or concerns? Should they call the caseworker? The Supervisor of the caseworker?

Should these foster parents bite the hand that feeds them? If these foster parents are any good they would have also made complaints about what they where seeing happening at the local branch. Maybe the foster parents also complained to the Supervisor of the caseworker. If they keep making complaints then they will be looked as "Non-team Player". But if no one is watching / overseeing the actions of the agency then anything can happen.

4. Have these foster parents been fully trained to handle such a child as this little one? If so what kind of support does DHS have for these foster parents? I am not talking about training classes; I am talking about full support for these families who are working in the front lines dealing with kids with ALL kinds of issues.

When these foster parents accepted the challenge to receive other peoples' kids into their home where they ready for the challenges' they would have to face each and everyday to take care of these special needs children? Every family goes through problems or issues it's a natural part of family life. Did these folks have some personnel problem interfere with there ability to operate a foster home? Or was the DHS adding stress to this home by asking to take on additional children that the home may not have the space to safely house the extra kids?

5. In another local news article the foster parents are being looked at by the police for claims of physical abuse to the child. Did the Portland Police not cross-report to DHS their concerns about physical abuse allegations? If they did what happened to those allegations against the foster parents. Why are they still fostering child?

6. Patricia Feeny - Please don't hind behind the wall of the "state and federal child privacy laws" when your department uses those protections to cover up for your department mistakes.

Where is biological parents privacy protections or better yet the foster parents protections from your abuses of power and authority? When will you report to citizens of the state about the number of mistakes made by your department?

In the court of DHS the foster parents are GUILTY until they prove there innocent from your accusations. Better yet why not hind the departments mistakes in with the foster parents accusations'.


It looks the system that was meant to protect our children when parents fail to do their job is not doing much better at protecting them. Sometimes the kids would be better off staying with the biological parents then under the custody of the state. Give the parents the services they need or else then to take the children into care. Let not overload an already over burdened system of foster parents and caseworkers. The Oregon DHS is having trouble maintaining its ranks of caseworkers and support staff. I have heard from many who have just up and resigned their position with the department. What is going on inside those walls no one may ever know?

As Very Concerned Citizen we need more answers to our questions.

My answer to number one 30.Jun.2007 07:20

Jessica Padilla jespickup2@yahoo.com

*This last Thursday I spoke to my childrens caseworker Pat Hall-Jones as to why my concern for my childs bumps and bruises were iqnored..she stated "Well, its hard to determine if the parent has an actual concern, or if they want to just bitch about every little thing"
This is the answer I got as the mother to the other two children that were placed in Michelle & Cesar's home..I could'nt belive my ears. I feel that regardless any parents concern should be worth looking into!!
My children were removed from my home in March over hearsay in regards to possible drug use, they hadn't recieved any physical evidince just phone calls.. Both of my children were happy, healthy and cared for. How is it that when they take a child from a biological parent they need very little information, but yet when it comes to one of their Foster parents it seems that the need a full investigation or trauma before they even think about taking the child. We all know life is not fair, but this is just out of line!!!

Wood Village, Oregon

Includes both bio and foster parents 21.Sep.2007 00:48

alice

I have been a foster parent for 11 years with many children in my home until 2006. One of my foster boys that had been with us for a number of years was really acting up. I ask for help numerous times from the caseworker and no help was given. Until we had trouble, it was " Many caseworkers ask if your home is avaliavle", or " You are the type of foster parents that we really like". But now, no children have been placed in our home for 2 years, even tho there are children in the shelter waiting for foster homes. We made the caseworker look bad, even going to the boss in Salem. So DHS wants no one to make waves, either bio or foster. Needless to say we are no longer involved with DHS.

Abuse in Foster Care System Abundant 29.Oct.2007 04:58

Ann Patton ann.patton@hotmail.com

I was recently working in an outlying Oregon county. I was working with mothers who had lost custody of their children because of their addiction to methamphetamines. There were several times that these mothers were concerned about the care of their children by foster parents. They were afraid to say anything and I witnessed caseworkers ignore the concerns of the parents. Eventually, one boy was physically abused by two diffrent foster care providers. The child welfare supervisor even had tears in his eyes when he told the mom about it. What happened. They blamed it on the one hour a week visit with the mother. It was too traumatizing for the child so his care providers had to abuse him! They are currently trying to terminate her parental rights. I witnessed the Case Worker and District Attorney attempt to hide the abuse from the judge and they had outright lied to evaluator's, who interviewed the abusive foster parents to use their information in the reports given to the judge. When it was clear that they intended on hiding the abuse I contacted the Citizen's Review Board to find out what to do. That person told me to write a letter to the Judge. I did...I got fired! I still want to help this 3 year old boy who is being taken from his mother and placed in abusive foster care. If you can help or have similar experiences please contact me.