Tensions flare at explosive hearing over Oregon foster care

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Oregon lawmakers and child welfare officials went head-to-head in a tense hearing over the state’s troubled foster care system.

Sen. Sara Gelser on Tuesday pressed foster care officials for information about the 80 children in out-of-state facilities. She said she had heard reports of children kept in straight jackets or being injected with Benadryl to control their behavior.

That’s when the head of Oregon’s Department of Human Services, which oversees the foster care system, accused Gelser of publicly “shaming” the agency. Director Fariborz Pakseresht defended the agency, saying workers are “breaking their back” to ensure the 7,500 in state care are safe and provided needed services.

Gelser, a Democrat from Corvallis, said she was “not concerned” with the agency’s feelings and that she had “lost confidence” in DHS.