By Matthew Jones

It is deeply disappointing to see a new, mysterious group called Oregon Foster Families First politicizing our foster kids to take a partisan swing at Governor Kate Brown.  

Caring for foster children is a privilege and a responsibility. They should be treasured and defended. No one should use foster kids as a means to attack a political opponent.

Foster care is in crisis nationally, and in Oregon.

The system is underfunded, understaffed and does not have enough qualified parents willing to open their homes and their hearts to care for these kids.

My husband Ethan and I have been foster parents for many years and know well the challenges our kids face every day. To date, we’ve provided a safe and loving home to 20 teenagers who are among the hardest to place because of the trauma they’ve experienced. We now specifically request LGBTQ teenagers, many of whom have been rejected by their birth families, because there are too few foster homes where they will be safe and affirmed.

Oregon Foster Families First appeared just in time for election season. Instead of finding meaningful solutions, the group is attacking Governor Brown.

Fixing our foster care system will require years of investment and leadership from an experienced team with a record of fighting for kids. Governor Brown has been a champion of child welfare her entire career, and during her short tenure as Governor she has already made critical improvements.

  • She created a Children’s Cabinet to address the root causes of Oregon’s foster care crisis and the urgent needs our children face.
  • Her leadership has resulted in $50 million worth of new investments in the Child Welfare Division and the hiring 200 additional child welfare staffers
  • She also hired a new director of the Department of Human Services (DHS) to improve accountability across the agency and implement effective practices to safely reduce caseloads for child welfare workers.
  • And the state has funded a new foster parent recruitment campaign called Foster Plus to attract more qualified parents.

Let’s face it—in the age of Trump and his constant barrage of lies, voters should be wary. I trust Governor Brown to lead our state and fix our foster care system. She continues to demonstrate her willingness to invest in our families and put kids first.

We shouldn’t trust Oregon Foster Families First, which has no record in our state and yet to disclose its donors.

Voters should also take their spokespeople, Ben West and Paul Rummell, with a grain of salt. These men have a long history of supporting politicians who don’t share our values, including Dennis Richardson and Monica Wehby. And just this month, they retweeted messages from the likes of Donald Trump and Alex Jones.

Ethan and I grew up in Oklahoma, where even today we could legally be fired from our jobs for loving one another. We know what it’s like to live in a state where voters put their faith in politicians who promise to ‘fix’ government. They cut taxes, slash budgets and appoint people to run state agencies who have no experience in public service.

Now is not the time to roll the dice on an unknown, untested candidate for Governor like Rep. Knute Buehler. Oregonians can trust Governor Brown to fight for us, and for foster youth, no matter what.

Matthew Jones is a foster parent and lives in Portland with his husband, Ethan Jones.