Foster kids kept by state in hotels at record rate

Abused and neglected kids in Washington State’s overwhelmed foster care system were housed at hotels and state offices at a higher rate than ever over the last year, new figures show — a practice that costs taxpayers millions. The state reports spending more than $2,100 nightly for each hotel stay, on average.

Seattle tree-protection proposal could be backward step, tree advocates say

When Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson set out to pass a long-stalled strengthening of Seattle’s tree-protection ordinance, fans of the urban forest called it wonderful news. They said his move last fall was far overdue considering how Seattle’s development boom is reducing the leafy canopy that gave “The Emerald City” its nickname. But when Johnson aides recently released their third suggestion this year for how to update the city law, the pro-trees people said that despite Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the changes would be unlikely to save more trees. In addition, they say, Johnson’s proposal appears to remove important existing protections for big trees, which studies show shade and cool streets while helping neutralize air and water pollution and reduce residents’ stress levels while improving cardiovascular health. “This is going backwards.

As foster care crisis festers, kin who care for neglected kids receive little state support

Kinship caregivers such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and close family care for an estimated 43,000 children in Washington State. Without kinship care, these children would enter the already stretched thin Washington state foster care system. But although these kinship caregivers tend to be older, poorer and in worse health than foster parent counterparts, they receive comparatively little financial support from the state.

Software aids in concussion tracking

Software aids in concussion tracking: In competitive Oregon soccer leagues, there is a procedure that inadvertently serves a safety check for concussions. Referees turn in game records to the Oregon Youth Soccer Association, noting things like a substitute for a player with a possible concussion. Software used by OYSA then flags that player as needing medical clearance to return to play.

Checking the blind spot

Jenna Sneva, a competitive skier from Sisters, Oregon, estimated she had 11 concussions before being diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome. Her namesake law – Jenna’s Law – helps protect young athletes competing outside of public schools.

How Max’s injury became Max’s Law

David Kracke is a personal injury lawyer at the Nichols Law Group in Portland and a co-author of Max’s Law, Oregon’s landmark legislation aimed at reducing the impact of brain injuries among Oregon student athletes. In mid-October, Lee van der Voo, managing director of InvestigateWest and John Schrag, executive editor of the Pamplin Media Group, talked to Kracke about the history of the law.

More providers now can clear injured athletes to play

Earlier this year, Oregon lawmakers amended Max’s Law, expanding the definition of “health professionals,” who can clear athletes with concussions to return to play. The new definition includes chiropractors, naturopaths, physical therapists and occupational therapists. The chief executive of Providence Health & Services, Doug Koekkoek, argued for including language that clarified that “a clinician should not provide medical release after a suspected concussion if it is not within the providers scope of practice.”

Also, the Oregon Medical Association, Oregon Association of Orthopedic Surgeons, and Osteopathic Physicians and Surgeons of Oregon penned a joint statement declaring “it is important that a neutral party clears the student to play, rather than a person who is employed by the school or the athletes’ team, as such a person may be subject to outside pressures.”

That argument led to the omission of school athletic trainers from the list of medical professionals qualified to allow concussed students to return to play.

Ready, set, hike! The story of “Max’s Law”

Ready. Set. Hike: Nearly two decades ago, during a high school football game, a 17-year-old quarterback named Max Conradt lined up under center and began a snap count. Now, a namesake law protects student athletes from the kind of tragedy that unfolded for the Waldport, Oregon player.

Payoffs and perils: Oregon nonprofit helps students, parents and coaches navigate the rewarding, risky world of high school sports

The Oregon School Activities Association oversees everything from track meets to choir championships in Oregon. OSAA Executive Director Peter Weber and Assistant Director Brad Garrett sat with Lee van der Voo, of InvestigateWest, and John Schrag, of Pamplin Media Group, to talk about Rattled, the news groups’ collaborative investigation into Oregon high school concussions.