The State is the child abuser - Victimized families testify at Oregon DHS budget hearing


By Susan Detlefsen





Susan Detlefsen is the Director of Oregon Family Rights and a candidate for State Representative, District 42


This article is published with the kind consent of the author.






Tuesday May 25, 2004
Marriott City Center Portland

On Tuesday May 25, Gary Weeks, DHS Executive Director, facilitated a question and answer session around budget issues in the MarriottCityCenter in downtown Portland. Other DHS administrators in attendance included Lynn Reed, Ramona Foley, head or former head of foster care services, and Jerry Burns, a recent hire in "Children's Protective Services".

Several family rights advocates, some of whom are victims of Oregon's "children's services" programs, were also present, including Dean Glycenfer, Tom Uryga, candidate for State Representative, District 26, and myself, Susan Detlefsen, candidate for State Representative, District 42.

Tom Uryga pointed out how the state could reduce their DHS hosted "daycare" budget by 15%-20% by reducing the age at which children began school and by insuring statewide full-day kindergarten. Uryga discussed particular issues of DHS waste in group homes for MR-DD adults.

Uryga asked, since fewer Oregonians are receiving assistance from DHS, noting "termination" letters sent out before Measure 28, Measure 30 and other recent instances, whether DHS has or would reduce total headcount proportionally. Weeks played the "FTE-shuffle", and could not show DHS reduced staff, only that people outside DHS providing care to Oregonians did get fired.

Uryga asked why DHS was not fighting the attorney general's office to stop the closure of pharmacies importing and reselling Canadian prescriptions, especially since the loss of Medically Needy funds, OHP cutbacks on prescription care etc. The response was that they would pursue a plan to get more money from taxpayers to provide prescription coverage, not reduce the cost of prescriptions.

DHS documents are a curious mix of data aimed at obscuring the fact that DHS has had an uninterrupted course of growth in staff and funding over the last 10+ years. They disregarded entirely the concept of an "All Funds" budget, instead playing the General Fund-Only game, which translates into a significant misrepresentation of what is really happening in Salem to liberate ever more money from citizens' pockets.

I had come to speak out specifically on behalf of victims of child welfare fraud I have heard from across the state for over a year and half, since I became a victim myself in 2002, the year when nearly 6,00A0 children were removed from their homes, and the same year, with a 269 million dollar budget, DHS could not manage to help protect two kids who genuinely needed protection, Ashley Pond and Miranda Gaddis.

Several victims of child welfare fraud gave examples of abuse and corruption in juvenile court and children's services. One woman explained that she discovered in her file that the foster parents had over 20 child abuse or neglect referrals which went unreported. "Why does foster care abuse go unchecked, but when a noisy neighbor calls CPS on a bio parent, the State swoops in immediately to "protect" the child?"

Another woman exposed the problem of child molesters working for Children's Services, and cited a recent example, to which Gary Weeks had little to say. I asked if DHS requires psychological evaluations for employees of Children's Services, and pointed out that innocent parents who have their children stolen by the state are compelled to have these "psych evals". Of course, Weeks had to admit, the very workers that are supposed to be protecting our children, many of them have no parenting experience of their own, are not required to submit to any mental health evaluation.

About a half hour into the conference, I saw Ramona Foley walk in. I had never met here or even seen a photo of her, but I instinctively recognized her. She had the bored to death look of a soulless bureaucrat, just waiting for the next paycheck to arrive.

Suddenly, out of nowhere, a man stood and asked permission to speak. Using a recent lawsuit a family won against DHS, he explained how DHS does everything in its power-and DHS has a lot of power, receiving 22% of our total tax dollars-to protect itself and punish anyone, even children, who speak out against them. DHS punished the family who won the lawsuit against them by withholding virtually all their services and leaving them basically as broke as they would have been had they not won their case against the state. With eloquence, this gentleman pointed out that the state itself is the greatest abuser in Oregon. "Are DHS employees not 'mandatory reporters?" the man asked. Why does DHS fail to report abuse among their own? This same man weaved into his story comments about the DHS moguls being too busy planning their next career move to worry about victims of their derelict methodologies.

When this guy stopped talking, I could not contain myself and broke out applauding. There was nothing Gary Weeks could say to this man, who very eloquently echoed what we were all saying: DHS is corrupt to the core and a nothing but a tax vacuum.

Innocent families are abused, while the very people who are paid to help families, are allowed to continue to draw paychecks for their abusive and dishonest behavior. Parents who expose abusive, dishonest caseworkers are retaliated against by having their "visits" cut off. Oregon is the prototype for government that doesn't work. By the way, Weeks also pointed out that the state itself is Oregon's biggest employer, with, I believe he said, around 40 thousand employees.

Several other DHS employees talked about needing funding. Some of these programs actually sounded half way credible to me.

Then, towards the end a Hispanic man stood and asked how DHS could justify holding their meeting in such a swank hotel, when so many have no food or lodging, "humans" who need the "services", the "Department of Human Services" is charged with helping. His family is homeless, and he had come to tell his story to the public.

After the homeless Hispanic man spoke, I couldn't stand it anymore, sitting there, holding my tongue. Since I hadn't spoken yet, Gary Weeks called on me: "DHS spent over 282 million on "children's services"-taking good kids out of good homes and putting them in abusive foster care. What about taking some of this money and use it to help people like the gentleman who just spoke about his family, and the people over here who seem to be involved with a program that might actually do some good? Weeks, "well if we are taking good kids out of good homes, we need to look into this" -"Yes, you are. I see at least 4 other families here who have had their kids snatched. This is not going to go unexposed. I believe another gentleman earlier already spoke to this. WE ARE NOT GOING TO TOLERATE THIS."

After I spoke, Gary Weeks said we needed to talk to Ramona Foley and her crew. The meeting ended shortly after that, and Tom, Dean and I, along with several other DHS victims, corralled the CPS people. I set aside my disdain, and introduced myself to Ramona Foley and shook her hand. She said with a smile! "I know who you are. I get your e-mails". She told me it is a gross misunderstanding that there is a bounty on our kids' heads. Well, I had my financial facts handy, so I threw a few at her to let her know I am not going to fall for that so easily. She explained that she is "no longer in charge of children's services". I asked her what her new job is and she explained a bunch of administrative duties that sounded like a whole lot of basically nothing, for which she gets paid over 112K a year.

I asked her who then is in charge of CPS. She said "Jerry". I quickly ended my conversation with her and turned to the gentlemen behind her. "Who is Jerry"? Silence. "There is a Jerry here?". This pale-looking guy stepped forward and identified himself. I really felt sorry for him.

One after another, CPS victims hit him with stories of unwanted sexual adventures in foster care, judges announcing in front of the mother that her kids are "adoptable", internet ads for children whose parents have not even been through TPR, etc "What am supposed to tell my children when they ask 'mommy when can I go home"? one woman asked in exasperation. Jerry looked overwhelmed, but not at all defensive. He listened with a concerned look and said he will try to help.

I asked for his business card, but he said he is too new to have cards, (I guess he is the new fall guy) so he gave me his number and I wrote it down. He said, let's set up a tri-county meeting: Washington, Clackamas and Multnomah, to sit down and talk about how things might be improved. I think he was genuine. It was refreshing.

I had been waiting a long time to confront DHS officials, after being ignored for over a year by Jean Thorne, who suddenly disappeared last year, leaving things in a mess at DHS, apparently escaping to her new position as the head of some other tax-funded agency.

After walking out of the Marriott, Jerry, the new CPS guy, came up to me on the street and starting chatting, which really surprised me. He seemed human, and likeable, not like the thousands of other heartless, immoral clones who work for DHS. I told him I enjoyed meeting him and I meant it.

I felt the May 25 DHS meeting signaled a positive change in the role family rights activists might begin to play in government.



How much are your children worth to Oregon's "child welfare" industry?

Oregon Family Rights 2003 Child Welfare Report  


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