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Hundreds of foster kids in Oregon being housed in former jails, other institutions: report

Hundreds of foster kids in Oregon being housed in former jails, other institutions: report

Hundreds of foster children in Oregon are being held in institutions including former juvenile jails, The Oregonian/Oregon Live reported Friday. 

About 400 foster children have been in the institutions since July 2018, the news source reported, citing state figures. This is up from around 300 children in 2016. 

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The children being sent to these institutions are often those suffering the most trauma and the most difficult to take care of, according to the report.

The move to house some foster children in institutions like former jails comes after child welfare leaders a year ago agreed to stop holding children in hotels, state facilities and juvenile detention centers instead of with families, the outlet reported. 

A spokesperson for Oregon's Department of Human Services said that the report did not accurately reflect its "overall placement system" for foster youth. 

"Oregon has extensive efforts underway to bring in more foster parents into the system, expand strategies and actions for adding more therapeutic foster homes, and strategies to create capacity to bring our out of state children back to Oregon," he said in a statement to The Hill. 

A state official told the newspaper that the children needed institutional care. 

“We don’t have … foster families that can meet the high trauma that these children have,” Oregon child welfare director Marilyn Jones told The Oregonian/OregonLive. “They can be suicidal and homicidal. They can have self-harm or have harmed others.”

The paper reported that it is also less expensive for the state to house the children in institutions as opposed to hotels. A child welfare spokesman said housing them in a hotel room costs about $2,180 whereas the institutional programs only cost a few hundred dollars.

Updated March 16, 8:14 a.m.