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Head Of Oregon's Embattled Child Welfare Division Retires Effective Immediately

Kaylee Domzalski
Oregon Child Welfare director Marilyn Jones, right, listens to Department of Human Services director Fariborz Pakseresht deliver testimony before the Senate Human Services Committee Thursday, April 10, 2019, at the Capitol in Salem, Ore.

The head of Oregon’s embattled child welfare agency is retiring — effectively immediately and with an apparent push from the governor.   

Marilyn Jones led the Department of Human Services' Child Welfare Division and was responsible for overseeing foster children and other at-risk kids. A longtime state worker, she took over the office in September 2017 with a mandate to fix the agency after a series of scandals and mistakes.

But Jones’ tenure was marked by more trouble. That included reports that children sent to facilities out of state never received visits from Oregon caseworkers and that a facility in Montana drugged and physically restrained a 9-year-old Oregon girl. Oregon has been sending children to several facilities that other states have stopped usingbecause of abuse reports. A national advocacy group sued Oregon in April. 

This spring, Brown created a new oversight board to solve the state’s child welfare crisis and placed one of her senior advisors inside the agency. 

In a written statement Wednesday, Brown indicated that she made the decision it was time for Jones to go: 

“Although progress has been made, the speed of reform needs to be faster to ensure foster children are safe, to provide better support to families, and to relieve the burden on caseworkers," the statement said. "After consulting with experts in the field and discussing with DHS leadership, it became clear that now is time for change at the top of the Child Welfare Division."

Jones will be a consultant for the state through August.

Copyright 2019 Oregon Public Broadcasting. To see more, visit Oregon Public Broadcasting.