Media Room

REMARKS AS POSTED

Governor Kate Brown
Foster Care Month Proclamation Event Remarks
Willamette Family Treatment Services (Eugene)

May 8, 2018

Good morning, I’m Governor Kate Brown.

I want to thank you all for joining me today to recognize Foster Care month, which we will do in a few moments.

Thank you to Susie, and to Willamette Family Treatment Services. This center is living proof that community support is essential to the success of children and families in foster care.
 
Oregon’s children are all of our children. And as a community, we have a responsibility to create safe, nurturing environments that enable them to thrive.

We are so fortunate in Oregon to have so many who devote themselves to this cause, day in and day out. Foster parents and relative caregivers, who volunteer their homes and love. Caseworkers who have devoted their lives to protecting children and families. CASAs who listen to and advocate for them, lawyers who fight for them.

Yet, the rapidly rising number of children in foster care means that any progress is outpaced by the stresses that substance use, housing instability, behavioral health issues, and domestic violence have put on Oregon’s foster care system.

We can only solve the problems in Oregon’s foster care system by looking at the root causes. 

There are so many people that have been helped by this approach here at Willamette Family Treatment Services.

I just had the chance to meet Catey.

Catey was adopted when she was three. Her mother was an alcoholic. Catey struggled in school, and she ran away frequently to escape a chaotic home environment. She was twelve when she first found an escape in meth. By eighth grade, she had dropped out of school.

By the time she turned 18, her parents divorced, just as she was becoming a parent. Her son went into foster care as Catey struggled with escalating drug use, an abusive partner, and depression. 

“I was in a vicious cycle,” she said, “that I could not seem to get out of.” 

She ended up in jail after giving birth to her second child. Putting her newborn into foster care was gut-wrenching. She knew things had to change. 

She found Willamette Family’s Women’s Program. Here, she can have her primary motivation for recovery right by her side, while her days are focused on sobriety. Today, Zachary is four months old, and Catey is learning how to be a sober mom. She knows she has to take realistic steps. The next one is to move into Willamette Family’s case-managed housing. And she’s already setting a bigger goal: to return to school.

Every family deserves the kind of support that Catey is getting; every child needs more caring adults in their lives.

Our child welfare system is focused on safely right-sizing Oregon’s foster care system. Currently, there are one and a half times as many children in our foster care than the national average. 

In the past year and a half, I have pushed for — and received the Legislature’s support — for over $50 million in additional funding for child welfare. That money has gone to increased payment for foster parents, and most recently, hiring almost 200 new staffers at the Department of Human Services. This funding helps caseworkers get more time on the ground with each of their families. 

We’ve brought in talented, dedicated new leadership who are devoted to improving the lives of Oregon’s children by recruiting and retaining the best foster parents and caseworkers.

I am also focused on getting better supports to our families by building more affordable homes, removing barrier to a good education and job training, and having access to high-quality health care and treatment. 

There are so many ways to help our children. Any community member can help. You can become a foster parent or caseworker. You can provide respite care, volunteer, or make a simple donation. We as a community are responsible for our children. The harsh reality is that the director of Child Welfare can’t solve this alone. I can’t solve this alone. We all need to work together to continue to move Oregon forward.

Thank you for your support in taking care of Oregon’s children.