New ‘Nest’ program attempting to combat Oregon DHS hoteling issu - KPTV - FOX 12

New ‘Nest’ program attempting to combat Oregon DHS hoteling issue

Posted: Updated:
A new program by the nonprofit Boys & Girls Aid is hoping to make more space available for kids with trained foster parents and keep them out of hotels. (KPTV) A new program by the nonprofit Boys & Girls Aid is hoping to make more space available for kids with trained foster parents and keep them out of hotels. (KPTV)
PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) -

In what is being called a new style of foster care, a local nonprofit is partnering with the Oregon Department of Human Services to provide homes for kids in state care.

The move follows a FOX 12 investigative report uncovering the state's continued practice of housing foster kids in hotel rooms or state offices, and the program already seems to be making a difference in the placement crisis.

Boys & Girls Aid officially launched the Nest program on November 1. Through the program, foster parents are recruited and trained to become skilled and prepared to take children with complex needs and behaviors.

Proponents of the program say kids that may otherwise be spending the night in a hotel room but now have a more stable place to temporarily stay.

MORE: Lawsuit contends more kids in DHS care ‘unplaced,’ kept in hotels

New foster parents Hannah and Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui signed up to participate in the program.

"It's not enough to do the right thing, you have to do the right thing in the right way with the right attitude," Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui told FOX 12.  "It was right for us to do this."

The Soohoo-Huis, like other couples participating in the program, get paid a monthly retainer and a daily per diem to take in children ages 8 and under. They said the very first foster child who stayed with them in their southeast Portland home was previously housed in a hotel.

"I think it made a huge difference for her," Hannah Soohoo-Hui said. "We can't solve all of the issues in just a week at our house, but we tried to get to know her and make her feel like she had a place where she belonged."

A FOX 12 investigation earlier this year revealed DHS placed some 130 foster kids in Oregon hotel rooms over seven months when they had nowhere else for them to go. These hotel stays wound up costing the state roughly $2 million, based on figures obtained by FOX 12.

Boys & Girls Aid partnered with DHS to launch the Nest program in direct response to the urgent need for more foster beds.   

"I think we were surprised by the level of need for the children and how damaged their backgrounds have been," Nest Program Director Monica Ford said. "These are really high-end children with lots of challenges, but they are resilient and adaptable."

MORE: DHS partner agency: Best way to address ‘unplacement’ is more foster families

Ford helps to place foster kids in Nest homes until the state finds a more permanent place for them to stay.

"We actually have an individual in Salem who is what we call the gatekeeper," she explained. "The referrals go to her, she contacts me and I look at the children to see if we have the capacity to serve."

So far, Ford said the nonprofit has established three different Nest homes across the Portland metro area to take in foster kids. The need is so great, though, that they're already looking to recruit more parents and fund more homes.

MORE: Retired DHS caseworker calls unplacement issue a ‘crisis’

In the meantime, she's working with staff at Robinswood and Maple Star, two other facilities that have also partnered with DHS to help take in the state's older foster kids in need of placement.  

Together, she said all three programs are all trying to keep kids out of hotel rooms any way they can.

"We don't ever want to turn a child away," Ford said.

That is a feeling the Soohoo-Huis understand. Just as soon as they recently said goodbye to one foster child, they prepared to take in another.  

"It's just an understanding of the need and asking ourselves do we have room in our hearts and home for a kid that would otherwise be in a hotel room for a while," Nathaniel Soohoo-Hui said.

"Anyone who is able to see a child as a person and love them as a person can be generous and do this," Hannah Soohoo-Hui added.

For more information about the Nest program, head to BoysAndGirlsAid.org.

Copyright 2017 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

Powered by Frankly
FOX 12
Powered by WorldNow CNN
All content © 2018, KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation, Portland, OR . All Rights Reserved.
For more information on this site, please read our Privacy Policy, and Terms of Service, and Ad Choices.