EUGENE, Ore. -- Governor Kate Brown has declared the month of May as "Foster Care Month" in Oregon.
The announcement came as she was touring and meeting with families at Willamette Family Treatment in Eugene Tuesday morning.
In the past year and a half, Brown has pushed for and received the state legislature's support for more than $50 million in additional funding for child welfare. Brown said that money has increased payments for foster parents and has helped hire nearly 200 new staffers at the Department of Human Services.
She said the Oregon foster care system is facing a huge crisis, with one and half times more children in the system than the national average.
"I want to ask all Oregonians to step up and help our foster children,” Brown said. “These kids are all of our children and we need to all do what we can to support them."
Brown said part of her goal is to support programs like Willamette Family Treatment, which helps provide care, treatment and recovery for individuals and families involved in foster care who struggle with substance abuse and mental health issues.
KEZI spoke to one woman who benefited from the program. She said her son was taken away from her because she had a drug addiction. However, after completing the program in 2016, she now has her son back and believes she is a better person because of the program.
"They’re all amazing, they're all super supportive and I thank them for helping me save my life and rebuild my life back," said Nicole Sontag.
Staff with Willamette Family Treatment said 80 percent of parents involved in the program get their children back once they have completed the program.
Staff said they appreciate the governor’s visit and it can shed light on the importance of supporting programs that not only help the individual but will also help the families.