Oregon in Crisis
Playwright Rebecca Gilman’s Luna Gale may be set in Iowa, but the issues raised hit close to home. The state of Oregon is in the midst of crisis situations in the Department of Human Services’ Office of Child Welfare and with the widespread use of methamphetamine.
On January 31, 2018 the Oregon Secretary of State released an audit of the Office of Child Welfare showing chronic and systemic management problems, budget shortfalls, lack of adequate staff, high turnover rates, overwhelming workloads, and a disorganized, inconsistent foster care program that fails to protect Oregon’s most vulnerable children. Methamphetamine remains Oregon’s largest and most persistent illicit drug problem. Apart from alcohol, more people sought treatment for amphetamine use in Oregon in 2014 than any other drug. Right here in our state there are thousands of overburdened caseworkers like Caroline, scared and addicted teenagers like Karlie and Peter, struggling young women like Lourdes, and innocent children like Luna at the mercy of deeply complicated and flawed systems.
In order to further the conversation about the ongoing issues in our state, CoHo will be hosting two post-show discussions with experts in the fields of child welfare, counseling, and increasing access to culturally appropriate services following the Sunday April 22 and Sunday April 29 matinee performances of Luna Gale. Both discussions will feature guest panelists Maryjane Wilt (Whole Heart Counseling Services), Katherine Wiley (DHS Caseworker, Children’s Services), and Rut Martínez-Alicea (PCC Southeast Campus Multicultural Center Coordinator). Get your tickets to Luna Gale and learn more about these passionate and knowledgeable panelists below.
Post-Show Discussion Panelists
Rut Martínez-Alicea (PCC Southeast Campus Multicultural Center Coordinator) is a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, an educator, and an activist. Professionally, for the past 20 years, she has focused on understanding and educating the community on the impact of the intersection of racism and sexism in communities and individuals. For many years Rut focused on the intervention and prevention of domestic and sexual violence within the Spanish speaking Latino community in the Portland Metro area. During those years she worked at emergency shelters, outreach programs, hotlines, facilitated support groups and provided training to volunteers and staff in the Portland region. Rut started a number of programs focused on increasing access to culturally appropriate services and among them, the first fully bilingual (English-Spanish) 24hrs Crisis Line in the state of Oregon: Línea UNICA. She joined the staff at PCC in 2011 to design and implement the first program at a Community College in the U.S. dedicated exclusively to the primary prevention of rape: PCC SAFE. As the Coordinator of the Southeast Multicultural Center (MC), she brings these experiences and understanding: systems of social inequities create environments where individuals and communities are at greater risk of different victimizations, have less access to basic resources, and experience a multitude of challenges to attend school and achieve their educational goals, among so many other threats, risks and disadvantages.
Katherine Wiley (DHS/Child Services) is a child protective services worker with the Oregon Washington County Beaverton branch of child welfare. In her current role she responds to initial reports of abuse and neglect of children in their homes or in the community. CPS workers make initial contact with children and families to investigate the validity of the abuse or neglect concern, take immediate action when necessary to assure child safety, and work to connect families to supports and services to address high risk families or situations which could, or are, impacting the safety of the children in the family. Kathrine holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from Portland State University. She has dedicated her life to work with children and families, and especially those in the child welfare system. Katherine has worked in the child welfare field for over 6 years, and in the helping field for 10. During her time in child welfare time she has filled a variety of roles including internships with DHS Child Welfare’s training unit and the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children’s unit. Katherine and her partner have also had the opportunity to become foster parents with the Washington County child welfare system. While they are not currently fostering, they found the experience to be humbling and were honored to have had the opportunity to support child welfare as foster parents.
Maryjane Wilt (Whole Heart Counseling Services) is a Licensed Professional Counselor with Masters Degrees in Counseling and Education. She specializes in treating adult survivors of childhood trauma, neglect, and abuse, in addition to being specially certified as a sexual addiction therapist (CSAT) and working with adults (and their partners) who have ADHD. “I find the work of helping others heal to be extraordinarily rewarding. It’s an honor and a privilege to be a character in the stories of real people as they heal. I consider my own journey of healing from childhood abuse of all kinds, in the context of an extreme and rigid religious and family environment, to be one of my most essential tools. In my view, a counselor is only as effective as the work she has done on herself.”