The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) Child Welfare Program announced today that three counties are beginning the statewide rollout of a new child protection system designed to keep more children safely at home, rather than enter state foster care.
The system is called Differential Response and implementation has started in Lane, Lake and Klamath counties.
"Differential Response (DR) is an evolution of Oregon Child Welfare System that will provide for more than one path for intervention with families where child safety is at issue, usually because of neglect or threat of harm," said DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day. "Just as every family is unique, our approach will be flexible enough to serve each family's needs - some through a Traditional Response, and others though an Alternative Response."
The Differential Response program is a redesign of the child welfare system's initial response for families with a screened in report of abuse or neglect. In the new system, all families involved with child welfare will continue to receive a comprehensive child safety assessment by child welfare staff.
However, some families, where they are able to keep their children safe, will be offered services without opening a case with child welfare.
DHS Child Welfare will work with families to keep their children safely in their care if they can:
- act immediately and decisively to deal with threats to their child's safety;
- assist in adequate safety planning to manage threats to a child's safety;
- be supported by family, community partners, and others who can help them when they can't do it alone.
Governor Kitzhaber and the Oregon Legislature approved the following investments during the 2013 legislative session: $23.7 million in total funds for statewide implementation of Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families programs to provide an array of services designed to support families and keep children safely with their families; nearly $11 million for 113 positions to address the workload of child welfare staff, increasing staffing level to 75% and increasing our ability to successfully implement Differential Response; and just under $1 million for nine additional positions to improve state compliance with the federal Indian Child Welfare Act through active efforts to keep children at home or shorten their stay in foster care.
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