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In January 2007, Juvenile Rights Project, Inc. filed extensive comments on proposed DHS administrative rules commonly referred to as the "Oregon Safety Model" (OSM). The OSM was created in response to earlier cases that had been highlighted in the media where children were severely harmed or killed.
JRP was particularly concerned about the portion of the OSM that directs Child Protective Services workers to take "vulnerability", in addition to safety, into account when making decisions about abuse, neglect and the removal of children from unsafe homes. The rule, which DHS adopted in spite of the numerous concerns and objections raised, directs CPS workers to determine whether or how the child is or is not vulnerable to identified safety threats. "Vulnerability" is to be determined based upon such factors as: the child's size, mobility, physical development and dependence. In other words, older children are presumed to be less vulnerable even when found to be in clearly unsafe situations.
Among the concerns expressed in our comments on the proposed administrative rule were:
"We strongly object to the addition of the definition and concept of “vulnerable child” (39) to this revision of the CPS rules. We are extremely concerned that this will lead us directly back to the Level 7 Vulnerability Scale practices that we have jointly worked hard to eliminate. We are concerned that this change will lead, once again, to: older children not being protected from abuse and neglect, or not being placed in foster care when needed... Most discouraging is that inclusion of this concept shows a basic lack of understanding of the legal and developmental abilities of children. Children under the age of 18 may not legally run away or disobey their parent – even if it is to avoid abuse or call the police about abuse. Children under 18 are not developmentally able to protect themselves. We do not believe that “vulnerability” is a useful concept in determining safety, especially in light of the history of what has already happened in this state – it is an evasion of responsibility and a rationing of protective services that is discriminatory to older children.... "
Mark McKechnie, Executive Director, Juvenile Rights Project, Inc.
posted 3 years, 4 months ago
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