There are 3 types of juvenile matters: (1) dependency proceedings and (2) termination of parental rights proceedings, which are described in ORS Chapter 419B, and (3) delinquency cases, which are described in ORS Chapter 419C. When a youth is taken into custody by the police and taken to the juvenile detention facility, a report will be written and submitted to the juvenile department. ORS 419B.171 and ORS 419C.106.
The Juvenile Unit is responsible for litigating dependency petitions, representing the Department of Human Services (DHS) in proceedings to terminate parental rights, and determining appropriate ways to proceed in delinquency cases, which may include prosecution in the juvenile justice system.
Dependency and Termination of Parental Rights Proceedings
The Juvenile Unit protects children who are at risk of harm by litigating dependency petitions intended to restore the ability of parents to appropriately care for their children. In the event that the ability of parents to care for their children cannot be restored in a reasonable time period, the juvenile unit will represent DHS in a proceeding to terminate parental rights.
Although there is a strong preference that children live in their own homes with their own families, the state recognizes that it is not always possible. In cases where children have been abused or neglected and are unable to be reunited with their parents or guardians the State of Oregon has the obligation to provide an alternative, safe, and permanent home for the child. ORS 419B.090(5).
The purposes of the Oregon juvenile justice system from apprehension forward are to protect the public, reduce juvenile delinquency, and to provide fair and impartial procedures for the initiation, adjudication, and disposition of allegations of delinquent conduct. The system is founded on the principles of personal responsibility, accountability, and reformation within the context of public safety and restitution to the victims and the community. ORS 419C.001(1).
The DA’s Office reviews police reports and works with the juvenile department in determining the appropriate method to address cases that come into the juvenile system. This decision is guided by the need to provide for public safety as well as appropriate accountability for the youth.