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Protecting vulnerable children


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The meeting that took place a week ago in Baker City was the sort of meeting that would have been easy to ignore with its confusing maze of agency names and employee titles and program acronyms.

But the meeting’s purpose could hardly be more important — to help some of Baker County’s most vulnerable children.

The public forum, which brought about 30 people to the Baker Community Event Center, was sponsored by Baker County’s Child Abuse Prevention and Treatment Act Citizen Review Board.

We were gratified to learn how many people, some of them volunteers and some government employees, are committed to protecting children who have been abused or neglected, or who are in the foster care program.

And we were optimistic about Baker County’s ability to achieve that vital goal, based on the number of local residents who are active not only locally but with statewide groups.

Marilyn Jones of Baker City, for instance, was recently appointed to manage the state’s child welfare system. Jones, who has worked for the state Department of Human Services in Baker City for many years, surely will bring an intimate knowledge of Baker County’s needs to her new position.

District Attorney Matt Shirtcliff is the incoming president of the Oregon District Attorneys Association, and Kent Bailey, a volunteer, is chairman of the county’s Citizen Review Board and on a statewide advisory committee.

The challenges are daunting, to be sure.

Protecting children can involve multiple agencies, including law enforcement, and the people involved often have to negotiate a labyrinth of laws. And as Bailey pointed out, finding qualified foster parents can be difficult in our sparsely populated county.

But we’re confident that a roster of dedicated people is ready to confront the challenges on behalf of the county’s children.

From the Baker City Herald editorial board. The board consists of publisher Kari Borgen, editor Jayson Jacoby and reporter Chris Collins.