Supreme Court: State Can Immunize Children in Its Custody

The Department of Human Services can order children in its custody to be immunized, even if the child is in temporary custody and even if the parents object to the immunizations on principle, according to an Oregon Supreme Court ruling issued Thursday.

The state took custody of the eight children involved in the case — ages 1 to 10 — in January 2012 after finding their home “bestrewn with garbage and food, the children dirty, and the children’s educational needs barely addressed by mother’s home-school curriculum,” according to the court’s decision in Department of Human Services v. S.M. et al.

The state ordered the children be placed in foster care after several weeks of working with the family because “the condition or circumstances (of the children were) such as to endanger (the children’s) welfare or others’ (welfare),” the court opinion said.

The state alleged the parents had failed to provide their children with adequate shelter, necessities, education, hygiene or healthcare and also alleged the father had been violent toward the mother.

The family admitted to all charges but the lack of medical care.