Klamath Falls, Ore. -- There are currently about 250 kids in Klamath County living in foster homes.
A new approach is being taken to reduce that number.
Jeremy Player of the Oregon Department of Human Services notes that the goal of the program is simple...
"Reduce the number of children in foster care."
Currently, the D.H.S. takes a 'one size fits all' approach to reports of child abuse or neglect.
But Child Welfare Program manager Cyndi Kallstrom says that is changing...
"Differential response lets us look at what the family's needs are, and the type of approach that's needed."
The state has given D.H.S. offices in Klamath and Lake counties about 800 thousand dollars.
"I talked to the faith-based, I talked to the legal system, I talked to just community people on the street." Says Jeremy Player. "And said, 'what is missing."
In addition to filling assistance gaps, Kallstrom says that initial contact with families will be different...
"Now we'll be calling them, and asking them what's a good time for them, is there somebody that they would like to have support them, so they're not taken off guard."
Player stresses that helping families keep kids safe is their main goal...
"It's not those parents that are abusive, or are physically harming their child - but it's those parents that are struggling just meeting the children's needs."
It's hoped that the new approach will reduce the number of kids going into foster care by as much as 10%.
Klamath, Lake, and Lane counties are the first in Oregon to try out the new child welfare system.
Oregon lawmakers have budgeted over 23 million dollars to phase in the program state wide.
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