Citizens with power keep eye on government’s care of foster children

Workers with the Ontario office of the state Department of Human Services monitor a mother's weekly visit with her children. The supervised visits are one step towards returning children from foster care to their parents. (The Enterprise/Les Zaitz)

ONTARIO – Behind closed doors, the four citizens asked probing questions about a foster child in state custody.

One asked about school. Another asked about how therapy was progressing. And another asked how the child’s mother was doing with treatment for a drug addiction.

A state caseworker sat before them, answering the questions, occasionally referring to a file several inches thick with reports, medical records, and more.

The four are a quiet but essential part of Malheur County’s foster care system. They are members of the Citizen Review Board, with the power to question how well . . .