Oregon Ends Contract With Dynamic Life, a Nonprofit Earning Millions by Putting Foster Kids in Unlicensed Short-Term Rentals
Following a wave of mounting criticism, Oregon’s Department of Human Services has just canceled its contract with a religious nonprofit that had been placing foster children into short-term rentals. Said religious nonprofit was being paid $7.75 million to do so thus far.
Many years have been spent by Oregon’s Department of Human Services to find a safe and caring home for Oregon’s most vulnerable children. The child welfare system has had a troubling history of lawsuits, scrutiny, and problems with the quality of care provided to these kids. Their dealings with the religious nonprofit Dynamic Life is just one of a massive pile of issues that plagued their welfare department.
When children are placed in the foster system, they are housed in state-regulated child-caring facilities, group homes, and other similar places. The agencies that care for children have to meet certain requirements, and it can be quite lengthy; from allowing the child to be accessed by attorneys and investigators to having staff specially trained to handle children and de-escalate sticky situations.
A majority of staff in short-term rental homes do not have the expertise to handle foster children, not to mention that short-term rentals just aren’t suitable for housing foster children in general. They need to be around trained staff who can care for their needs appropriately, and many attorneys for these foster children have raised questions and concerns, such as whether or not Dynamic Life’s staff had therapeutic training, given they were only given two weeks worth of training in preparation of caring for children.
Not only are staff at rental housing unfit for caring for children, but many were questioning if the staff at Dynamic Life were qualified for such positions. State officials came out and confirmed that they were, but upon initial questioning, they admitted to not knowing whether the 31 current and former staff were even background checked.
Now let’s talk about costs.
It was OPB that revealed the contract last month, which had been previously unpublicized, and probably for good reason, for payments made to Dynamic Life were beyond lucrative. After multiple inquiries from both OPB and attorneys representing these disadvantaged children, it was revealed just how much was being paid to the nonprofit.
Dynamic Life was contracted a little more than a year ago in October of 2022. Dynamic Life was to be paid $2,916 dollars for every child and teenager placed in their per day. Not per month or per week, but per day, all to put children in short-term rentals. It’s even more insulting when you realize that the child welfare system pays a foster parent only $795 per month; perhaps $1,030 to $1,258 per month if the child has special needs, but that’s just a drop in the bucket compared to the funds that Dynamic Life receives daily. This was to provide support for around 40 children who were at risk of temporary lodging (such as a short-term rental), as well as those who were already in temporary lodging.
All that money has built up to an astonishing $7.75 million in taxpayer money for what most consider to be insufficient housing for children.
Although this arrangement went unpublicized, the Oregon department was rather familiar with Dynamic Life, or at least the man behind it. Up until recently, founder and former pastor Nathan Weber was the CEO, and had worked with Oregon’s Office of Developmental Disabilities for just over a decade. While Dynamic Life’s part in Oregon’s child welfare system is done with, Weber’s contract with handling the welfare of some of Oregon’s most vulnerable will continue.
His son is a staff member at Dynamic Life and is facing multiple misdemeanors for harassing his own young children, who were in “fear of serious physical injury”.
We should also talk about Dynamic Life as a company, for there are questions about their ethics as a workplace in general.
According to job postings, Dynamic Life only accepts applicants who are at least 18 years old and could pass a background check. These workers are told to expect 12 hour shifts for pay of $16.50 per hour. One of the questions on the application even asked “Are you willing to work at least 72 consecutive hours a week.”
That’s 12 hours a day 6 days a week at the very least.
The president of Dynamic Life, Ned Clements, said in a written email that the contract with Oregon’s Department of Human Services was justified, but also made mention that Dynamic Life’s staff were often pulling 24 hour days. Because of this overtime, the large amount of pay they were receiving for each child per day was completely justified.
These foster children are once again in limbo, and now the Department of Human Services is once again scrambling to find them appropriate housing and care.