Oregon DHS Workers Fired After Managers Ignore Law

Oregon NewsTwo Oregon former DHS workers are suing the state after being fired for complaining to their supervisors that case managers were ignoring state law and making decisions on their own.

Shandie Johnson and Tammarra Ferguson refused to keep quiet about repeated times they saw managers bypass judges and make their own decisions about children in possible danger of abuse or neglect, according to their lawsuit filed Thursday in Wasco County Circuit Court.

In their lawsuit, Johnson and Ferguson allege that the state agency circumvented the court and made decisions about the welfare of children in their charge.

The suit alleges that when Johnson and Ferguson told their supervisors about the violations, they were told “it is not your job to worry about following the law” and “the train is leaving the station and if you are not on board you will find yourself walking the pavement looking for a new job.”

Johnson and Ferguson complained to three supervisors, and to the governor’s Child Welfare Advocacy Board, state circuit court judges, court-appointed advocates for children, lawyers working on juvenile cases, their union, and public officials, according to the suit.

The DHS lawsuit follows Oregon Governor Kate Brown’s firing of Jerry Waybrant, the top administrator of the Oregon Department of Human Services and order for an independent investigation of the Oregon foster care provider, Give Us This Day.

The Governor also recently created the Governor’s Foster Care Advisory Commission. The Commission will make recommendations to the Governor concerning the state’s foster care system. Specifically, it will monitor accountability in the foster care system, ensure children placed in substitute care are placed in a permanent home within 24 months, and increase the numbers of families eligible to participate in the foster care program. Most importantly, it will monitor, license, and supervise foster care families as well as aggressively investigate allegations of any abuse.

Dumas Law Group has law offices in Portland, Oregon and serves clients in Oregon, Washington, California, and other states.

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