Paper people chain and gavel

Oregon continues to work to bring foster children currently in out-of-state treatment facilities home. That’s the good news. Perhaps less good is this: One of the providers of that care, Sequel Youth and Family Services, is considering opening a facility in Oregon.

That presents a problem for state Sen. Sara Gelser, D-Corvallis, a former Department of Human Services employee who has championed the effort to bring Oregon foster children home from out-of-state facilities, including those run by Sequel.

It also presents a problem for the Oregon foster care system.

Oregon simply lacks enough facilities to treat the children in its charge who suffer from serious behavioral health problems. That lack led directly to the placement of children in out-of-state facilities, including 74 children who spent time at Sequel facilities in several states, according to a memo prepared for Gelser by Ronald H. Davidson, former director of the Mental Health Policy Program at the University of Illinois, Chicago.

It’s also what might make the possibility of a Sequel-run facility in Oregon attractive to state officials. Yet Gelser told an Oregon Public Broadcasting reporter she remained “incredibly concerned” about Sequel just this week.

Sequel has had more than its fair share of problems, apparently. As one example, the Davidson report cites problems at two Sequel-run facilities, both of which have housed Oregon youngsters in the past.

The last thing children in the state’s care need is abuse or other mistreatment while they’re in a facility that, in theory, at least, is supposed to help them. Gelser knows that, and DHS officials know that, as well. If they’re going to give a for-profit mental health treatment provider that’s had problems in the past the right to come to Oregon, they’re better be darned sure they can guarantee that provider will not do more harm than good.

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