Foster Parents Struggle Against Retaliation by State Caseworkers

Robbie Banks-Onthank and her husband Bill Onthank sit for a portrait at their home in Stevenson, Skamania County, Nov. 8, 2019. (Matt M. McKnight/Crosscut)

Reporter and FIJ grantee Rachel Nielsen investigated the complaints of foster parents in Washington state who say government caseworkers have created a culture of fear. The foster parents say they are being intimidated by state officials over trivial issues. State officials have held two meetings with groups of foster parents, but there have been no changes, according to records obtained by InvestigateWest under the Public Records Act.

InvestigateWest’s legal counsel, Kathy George, obtained more than 3,000 pages of records needed to complete this investigation. The state Department of Children, Youth and Families had improperly withheld the records for 16 months.

Read Nielsen’s entire story for InvestigateWest here.