Oregon agency clarifies proposed change to child abuse investigation

The Oregon Department of Social Services is clarifying a proposed rule change regarding child abuse investigations after the agency received a blowback.

Despite previous statements to the contrary, state agency officials said they are not trying to restrict the type of abuse records the public can access, Oregon Public Broadcasting reported.

“Unfortunately, our previous statements and communications regarding this proposed rule change were inaccurate,” ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht said. “We apologize for the confusion.”

The agency said that instead of trying to reduce the type of abuse records for children who are harmed outside the home, they are merely codifying the current practice of not publishing. child abuse investigations while they are ongoing. Its intent is to clarify the rule to ensure there is no loss of federal funding, as officials believe the current rule lacks clarity, the agency said.

State Senator Sara Gelser Blouin, who became a DHS watchdog and helped expose systemic child abuse, said she appreciated the clarification.

“I look forward to seeing a corrected version of the rule that states that when complete, appropriately redacted … child-in-care investigation reports are public records that will be released upon request” , said Gelser Blouin.

The initial understanding was that the rule change would allow agency leaders to largely deny most requests for public records even if an investigation was complete.

In 2018, public records uncovered widespread abuse at the facilities where Oregon sent foster kids to live.

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