Institution in Idaho for Oregon foster children off limits

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — A Lane County judge has blocked Oregon child welfare officials from sending a foster child to live at an Idaho facility after the boy’s attorney pointed out a technicality that could impact the state’s ability to place more foster children there.

The Department of Human Services sends more foster children to live at Mountain Home Academy in southern Idaho than any other facility outside Oregon, the Oregonian/OregonLive reported.

A 1975 law says facilities that take in Oregon foster children must be incorporated. Mountain Home is a limited liability company, a type of business that is not incorporated.

The law was adopted before limited liability companies existed, and it has never been updated.

The judge earlier this month refused to send the boy to Mountain Home because of the incorporation requirement, several people who attended the Jan. 8 hearing in Eugene confirmed to the newspaper.

State child welfare officials contend the 1975 law applies only to facilities licensed in Oregon. Officials will still consider sending foster children to live at Mountain Home if necessary, said Jake Sunderland, an agency spokesman.

Senate Human Services Chair Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, has brought scrutiny to the state’s practice of placing foster children outside Oregon and attended the hearing. On a visit this month, she said she found Mountain Home Staff caring and engaged and left impressed with the quality of its educational program.

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