Policy

Allowing the juvenile court to reinstate parental rights in limited circumstances, Enacted in 2018

Youth, Rights & Justice worked with the Oregon Criminal Defense Lawyers Association (OCDLA) to pass HB 4009. The final version of the bill creates a new section of the juvenile code permitting either the ward or DHS to file a motion to reinstate parental rights. Access the enrolled version of HB 4009 here.

HB 4009 safeguards adoptive families and those in the process of adopting by excluding motions to reinstate parental rights in cases where the child has been adopted (unless that adoption has been disrupted and the child no longer has a legal parent) or where there is an adoption proceeding underway. Among the other safeguards are an 18-month waiting period, the requirement of proof by clear and convincing evidence, children’s entitlement to court-appointed- counsel, a prompt permanency hearing, and period of juvenile court oversight for at least six months after the motion is granted. YRJ Testimony

Improving school stability for Oregon's foster children, enacted in 2017

Youth, Rights & Justice worked with the Oregon Department of Education and Department of Human Services on this important legislation to further improve school stability for Oregon foster children and youth, and to align with federal law (Every Student Succeeds Act). Since we pioneered one of the earliest school stability laws in the country, states and the federal government have paid greater and greater attention to the educational needs of foster children. SB 20 presumes that it is in the best interests of every child in foster care to remain in their school of origin and district of origin while they remain in foster care. If a school move must occur, SB 20 ensures that foster children are immediately enrolled in their new school, thereby eliminating disruptions to education due to school transitions. SB 20 also guarantees foster children publically funded transportation to their school of origin. Effective date: August 15, 2017. YRJ Testimony

Ensuring rights to an attorney, enacted in 2017

HB 2616 will prevent juveniles under the age of 16 from waiving the important right to counsel when they are charged with an offense that would be a crime for an adult (misdemeanor or felony). In addition, older youth in juvenile court would have to meet with an attorney first, at minimum, before the court would allow the youth to waive this important right. YRJ Testimony

Preventing shackling for youth, enacted in 2017

SB 846 will prevent juveniles from being shackled during court hearings unless the court determines that the youth poses a risk to cause harm or escape. Shackling inhibits due process for youth charged with breaking the law and also inflicts additional trauma on youth who have often already had other traumatic experiences. YRJ Testimony

Reducing solitary confinement, enacted in 2017

SB 82 was introduced by the Governor at the request of the Oregon Youth Authority. The new law will prohibit the use of isolation (sometimes referred to as "solitary confinement") as a form of punishment for any youth offender or young adult in an OYA facility. YRJ Testimony

Increased accountability for police officers when interviewing youth, enacted in 2017

HB 3242 will require police officers to record interviews or interrogations of youth suspected of a felony offense when interviews occur in a police station or other law enforcement facility.

School suspension in elementary grades and disproportionate discipline, enacted in 2015

Youth, Rights & Justice drafted SB 553 to significantly reduce the use of out-of-school suspension and expulsion in grades K-5. In addition to reducing exclusion of students overall, the limitations are also designed to reduce disproportionate disciplinary practices based upon race/ethnicity, disability and socioeconomic status in Oregon Elementary Schools. The effective date was July 1, 2015. Read more about it in the Eugene Register Guard. (A companion bill, SB 554, to fund training and technical assistance to districts on reducing discipline disparities was not passed.) Read a brief summary of SB 553 here.

Choosing the best permanent home for every child, passed in 2015

Youth, Rights & Justice drafted SB 741 to return more balance to the adoption selection process for children in foster care. Following administrative rule changes it made in 2010, DHS would not consider a current foster parent to adopt a child until all relatives have been eliminated from consideration. The new law will also give the juvenile court additional oversight and authority to preserve long-term foster placements when it is in the child's best interests.

Eliminating automatic registration for juveniles, passed in 2015

Oregon requires five times as many juveniles to register as sex offenders, per capita, than Texas does due to its automatic, lifetime registration requirement for juveniles. The Oregon Legislature passed HB 2320 in 2015 to eliminate the automatic reporting requirement for juveniles. Instead, a judge will determine when a juvenile will be required to register based upon a number of risk factors and other criteria.

Improving school discipline policy, enacted in 2014

Youth, Rights & Justice worked to improve Oregon's school discipline policies with HB 2192, which was passed unanimously by the Oregon Legislature and signed by the Governor in 2013. Effective date was July 1, 2015. The bill will reduce rigid and ineffective "zero tolerance" policies and promote practices proven to support student learning and positive behavior. Read more from the Bend Bulletin  and the Albany Democrat-Herald.

Limiting lifetime registration for younger offenders, 2013 legislation

HB 2552 would limit lifetime sex offender registration to juveniles who are age 16 and older at the time of the offense. While younger children would be exempt from lifetime registration for offenses committed before the age of 16, they would still be subject to juvenile court jurisdiction and a full range of treatment and sanctions. Juvenile offenders have extremely low rates of recidivism for sex offenses. Unfortunately, this bill was not passed out of the House Judiciary Committee.

Tuition waivers for foster youth, enacted in 2011

Youth, Rights & Justice supported HB 3471, which created a tuition waiver program for current and former foster youth enrolled in Oregon universities and community colleges, starting in the 2012-13 academic year.  Read more about the program and the eligibility requirements here.

Juvenile sex offender registration changes, enacted in 2011

Youth, Rights & Justice worked to pass SB 408 during the 2011 Legislative Session.  The bill passed with 89 yes votes. Most sections of the bill go into effect January 1, 2012.  The bill modifies the relief process for persons adjudicated as juveniles of a sex offense and required to register as sex offenders.  The changes include:

  1. Juveniles adjudicated of misdemeanor offenses will no longer be required to register, and the Oregon State Police (OSP) will remove those previously required to register.  The OSP has one year after the bill goes into effect to remove these persons from the registry.
  2. SB 408 allows youth adjudicated of a Class C felony to apply for relief within 30 days prior to the end of the juvenile court's jurisdiction.
  3. SB 408 removes the three-year time limit for persons registered on the basis of a juvenile adjudication to apply for relief.  Persons adjudicated as juveniles of a Class A or Class B felony offense must wait two years after juvenile court jurisdiction ends, and then they may apply for relief at any time after the two-year waiting period ends.

Read more on our SB 408 FAQ page.

Keeping youth out of adult jails, enacted in 2011

Youth, Rights & Justice supported HB 2707, which was passed into law by the Oregon Legislature. The bill was developed by the Partnership for Safety and Justice to reduce the number of youth under the age of 18 who are held in adult jails. The number of youth charged as adults has increased dramatically since the passage of Measure 11. While most youth who are convicted of an adult charge serve their sentences in juvenile facilities, many were being held in adult jails before their trial or plea. The new law will create a presumption that counties hold minors in juvenile facilities prior to their conviction or acquittal. A recent study found that the majority of youth who were charged under Measure 11 were not convicted of a M11 crime (48.1%) or not convicted at all (12.6%).

Restrictions on restraint and seclusion in public schools, enacted in 2011

Youth, Rights & Justice supported legislation developed by Disability Rights Oregon to strictly limit the use of restraint and seclusion of students in Oregon schools.  Read the final version of HB 2939, which was passed into law by the Oregon Legislature.

Health coverage for former foster youth, enacted in 2010

Youth, Rights & Justice supported HB 3664, which extends state health coverage (Oregon Health Plan) to youth who are in foster care immediately before their 18th birthday. The coverage lasts until the young person's 21st birthday. Read the bill passed by the Oregon Legislature here. The new law went into effect in May 2010.

Increased oversight of psychotropic medication by DHS, enacted in 2010

Youth, Rights & Justice supported HB 3114, which requires increased review and oversight of psychotropic medication for children in foster care. YRJ also participated actively in the rule making process with DHS and other stakeholders to implement the requirements of the legislation. You can access the bill passed by the Oregon Legislature here.

Oregon rules on adoption, 2010

Youth, Rights & Justice submitted extensive comments on November 24, 2010, on the proposed rules promulgated by the Department of Human Services regarding permanency planning and adoption for children in foster care. We recognize the value and importance of relatives in the lives of children. While we are gratified to see that the agency's attitude toward relative foster and adoptive parents has changed significantly, we are gravely concerned that the proposed policies represent an over-correction in attempt to redress past mistakes. In so doing, the agency appears bound to commit a new set of mistakes that will one day also need to be corrected.

Foster care and beyond, 2008

A position paper outlining goals and policy recommendations for improving Oregon's foster care system.

Preserving family connections for foster children, enacted in 2007

Youth, Rights & Justice drafted and helped to pass SB 282 and SB 414. These new laws created a number of changes to improve the chances that children in foster care will maintain important connections to their siblings, parents and extended family. SB 282 eliminated the disparity in Oregon that denied monthly child support payments to some relatives who step up to become foster parents for their grandchildren, nieces and nephews. SB 414 increased requirements on Oregon's child welfare agency, DHS, to search for relatives and place foster children with their kin. The legislation also requires increased efforts to keep siblings together in foster care and gives the court increased authority to order visitation plans that meet children's needs.

School stability for foster children, enacted in 2005

YRJ wrote and passed this law to make Oregon one of a handful of states that protects school stability for children who move into foster care or change foster homes. HB 3075 authorizes the court to make a "best interests" finding that allows children to remain in the same school when they move into a new school district.  The law allows children to remain in the same school through the highest grade level of the school and addresses transportation to ensure school stability.  For more information, go to our HB 3075 FAQ page.