Home | Menu | Sign Up | Donate

Safeguarding Children

The Secretary of State has the tools and the authority to better protect Oregon’s children. Given Oregon’s track record over the last two decades, the Secretary of State must do better.

My campaign will be policy-driven – not driven by money and politics.

So, here is my position on how the Secretary of State can step up and make Oregon a safer place for our children.

Child Protection Ombudsman

Oregon has failed children and families for far too long.

Only an independent Ombudsman can impartially investigate complaints by families, foster care providers, and child protective services workers. The Secretary of State’s office has an established history of independence and accountability that can protect an Ombudsman’s impartiality.

It’s long past time for Oregon to join the states that have adopted a proven model of oversight.

Background:

The State of Oregon has a troubled and disturbing history of neglecting our children placed into state custody. It has often failed to protect children or provide adequate support for families, foster care providers, and child protective services workers. There have been reorganizations, leadership changes, more money, and more regulations. Yet, serious problems persist.

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) has an internal Ombudsman charged with addressing concerns and complaints about the agency. But an internal Ombudsman that reports to DHS management is structurally not capable of providing the impartiality and independence necessary because it isn’t independent.

Other states have established a proven model: an independent Child Protection Ombudsman. Some are stand-alone agencies. Others are housed in independent state agencies.

Hass proposal:

In Oregon, the Secretary of State has a long-established history of accountability and independence with Audit Services, and the Small Business Advocate and the Corporations Division.

As Secretary of State, I will create a new Office of the Child Protection Ombudsman. The Ombudsman’s responsibility would be to ensure the safety of Oregon’s children and create meaningful oversight of the child protection system. The Ombudsman will have the authority to conduct systemic investigations of complaints, issue public reports, and propose legislation.

This change falls within the scope of and legal authority of the Secretary of State. Making this position independent of DHS gives it the freedom to provide impartial and unbiased oversight of the welfare of children who are in state custody.

The Secretary of State can and should be a strong force for protecting vulnerable people, especially children in difficult circumstances.

Connect with Mark