Guns drawn, a SWAT team descended on a Utah foster care facility housing 24 Oregon kids last month. Reportedly, an altercation between two students spread across the campus of Red Rock Canyon School in St. George, Utah, and police were called.
“My understanding is some of our kids have reported having SWAT teams pointed firearms at them?” Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, asked in a Tuesday Senate hearing.
Sara Fox, who oversees the program that sends Oregon foster kids to other states, confirmed the account. She said the police believed there was an active shooter on campus, which turned out not to be the case.
Earlier incidents at Red Rock Canyon School led to the termination of two staffers for inappropriately restraining an Oregon youth, twice.
Oregon’s beleaguered foster care system has seen increased scrutiny as of late, and Gelser has become a vociferous critic.
Earlier this year, it was revealed that Oregon had shipped over 80 foster care children to out of state facilities, and that because DHS had failed to properly supervise and review the facilities, abuses were occurring. Allegedly, a number of Oregon’s foster kids were inappropriately sedated and even physically restrained at these facilities. The faculties themselves, were in some instances, repurposed prisons.
A review of the facilities by Washington state social workers resulted in that state’s removal of foster children, but Oregon continued contacts with the facilities. Oregon has similarly repurposed jails for foster care placements within the state too.
Last month, a child advocacy groups filed a class action suit against the state’s Department of Human Services on behalf of dozens of children ranging in age from preschool to teen. DHS settled an earlier class action suit, agreeing to end the practice of placing foster kids in their offices and motel rooms.