The two agencies found that Massachusetts violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. So what about Oregon?
Clearly, [Ms. Gordon] is a loving, caring, and conscientious mother who is willing to do whatever it takes to have her daughter in her life. She is capable of learning new skills and has done so through her visits with [her daughter, Dana], despite them being infrequent. . . . It is important to remember that all parents receive help at some time, and [Ms. Gordon] should be no exception. There is no discernible reason revealed by this assessment that [Ms. Gordon together with her own parents] do not have the ability to care for her child safely.
multiple community-based service providers, two experts who have completed parenting assessments, Dana’s court-appointed attorney, and even a majority of DCF’s most recent Foster Care Review panel all have agreed that a family-supported parenting plan would be appropriate. In this matter, a family-supported parenting plan means that Dana would be placed with Ms. Gordon and her parents in their home and Ms. Gordon’s mother (Dana’s grandmother) would maintain guardianship of Dana.
[F]or more than two years, DCF has denied Ms. Gordon and Dana the opportunity to be a family and now threatens to deny them that opportunity permanently. Instead, DCF has continually asserted that Ms. Gordon poses a safety risk to Dana if she were to parent on her own, without consideration of any supports. However, DCF has ignored the fact that Ms. Gordon is not proposing to parent on her own without any supports, has ignored its own ability and obligation to provide such supports, and has repeatedly ignored the objective evaluations of various clinical and service professionals … who have reviewed this case and found that Ms. Gordon’s plan to parent Dana with her family’s support is appropriate.
DCF was aware of, and dismissed, numerous injuries to Dana, including a black eye, bumps, bruises, cuts, and burnt hands that occurred during the time in foster care. When Dana was only a few weeks old, she was left unattended on a table in the foster home.
DCF clearly presumed from the initial opening of its case that Ms. Gordon lacked the capacity to parent Dana due to her developmental disability without consideration of appropriate supports and services. … During the Departments’ interviews of DCF staff, one investigator explained that his view of Ms. Gordon’s capacity to parent was based on his “intuition” and stating that “[w]hen you meet with someone, you get a vibe whether they are going to be able to do it or not.” [Emphasis added.]The agencies concluded that this probably was not an isolated case, noting that
the violations in this letter highlight systemic failures by DCF to ensure social workers follow appropriate policies and procedures and have necessary training to perform their duties without discriminating on the basis of disability.