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Oregon’s Department of Justice forms new division focused on children

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(The Center Square) – Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum is placing greater focus on the needs of Oregon’s most vulnerable children. This month marked the start of the Child Advocacy and Protection Division. It is a new division within the Oregon Department of Justice that will provide legal representation for the Oregon Department of Human Services when ODHS has taken action to protect a child who has been abused, neglected or abandoned.

“Now that we have taken over this important legal work in every county in the state, my goal is for us at the Oregon Department of Justice to put an even greater focus on the needs of Oregon’s children,” Rosenblum said.

CAP will supplant the Child Advocacy Section, one of the largest sections which operated under the Civil Enforcement Division. Instead, CAP becomes a division of its own with 1,418 employees, 100 lawyers, and 92 support staff bringing the number of divisions within the department to 10. It is the second child focused division, the other being the Child Support Division.

“This is a big deal for the state – and a long time coming,” Rosenblum commented. “This reorganization will be deeply consequential.”

Joanne Soouthey, a 20-year veteran of the department, has been named Director of the new CAP division. Prior to becoming director she served as Chief Counsel for the Child Advocacy Section within the Civil Enforcement Division.

“She is a highly capable, compassionate and mission-focused lawyer manager and leader,” Rosenblum said. “ She will be joined by Rahela Rehman as Deputy Director…Their team, and the work of the new Division, are in good hands.”

Many years of planning went into creating a full division solely devoted to providing “vigorous court representation and comprehensive legal advice to” the Department of Human Services in all 36 counties, the release said.

CAP’s lawyers and staff will operate from 6 regional offices located in Portland, Salem, Eugene, Medford, Bend and Pendleton.

Foster home Certification and licensing matters requiring legal counsel or representation will fall under CAP’s purview. Directors of the Oregon Department of Human Services and Child Welfare will also be advised by CAP’s leadership.

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