REMARKS AS PREPARED
Governor Kate Brown
May 31, 2018
Hello, I’m Governor Kate Brown.
Thank you, Elliott. I appreciate the time and energy you have spent to enable the community to come listen, to share experiences, perspectives, and an attitude of positive collaboration.
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.
Currently, there are one and a half times as many children in our foster care than the national average. As DHS moves forward on right-sizing the foster care system in Oregon, and keeping families together without compromising safety, we must address the root causes of the growth of our foster care system. Substance abuse, addiction, housing instability, and domestic violence are devastating our families and our children.
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, helped to hire almost 200 new staffers at the Department of Human Services. Now, every family can get more time on the ground with each of our caseworkers.
And to put this funding to good use, I’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 supporting our families by building more affordable homes, removing barriers to a good education and job training, and increasing access to high-quality health care and treatment.
Prior to becoming Governor, I worked as a lawyer representing parents and children in the foster care system. Like many of you, I became intimately familiar with the challenges our children and families face.
And I saw how our kids respond to caring adults in their lives. In the midst of turmoil—changing homes, missing their parents, carrying emotional loads that the strongest of adults would find burdensome—they found the silver linings and focused on the positive.
Staying in their schools. Living with their siblings. Hearing their foster parents say how much their mom loves them.
We are fortunate in Oregon to have so many partners who also devote themselves to our kids. Day in and day out.
But you don’t have to be a foster parent or a caseworker or a CASA to make a huge impact on the children in foster care.
You can make a difference one child at a time.
Today is about finding new capacities to make sure that every child has more caring adults in their lives.
Just by being here, whether you focused on a particular issue or concrete supports for kids in care, you are doing that.
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.
I look forward to hearing how today’s ideas reach our children. But just the act of bringing your experiences and suggestions today is a first step in changing in Oregon’s foster care system.
Thank you for your support in taking care of Oregon’s children.