Caseworkers say staff shortages plague Oregon foster care

SALEM, Ore. (AP) — Dozens of caseworkers rallied at the Oregon Capitol demanding more funds to address staff shortages within the state’s foster care system.

Caseworkers say they’re often working two to three times the recommended amount in order to care for the state’s 7,500 foster children. They say their caseload is so high that it’s difficult to adequately meet the individual needs of their children leaving them vulnerable to abuse and neglect.

The Department of Human Services, which oversees the state foster care system, said it needs over a thousand new workers in order to bring caseloads down to reasonable levels. Last summer, Gov. Kate Brown directed an additional $14 million go toward creating 200 new caseworker jobs but DHS has been slow to fill those new vacancies.