Written by Lyle Ahrens, Posted: Thu, June 5 2014 at 4:57 PM, Updated: Thu, June 5 2014 at 10:27 PM
Klamath Falls, Ore. - Keeping more kids out of foster homes...that's the target of a new approach being used by the Oregon Department of Human Services in Klamath Falls.
A new Department of Human Services program is providing more options and resources to help D.H.S. caseworkers help families.
"We have the 'traditional' track we've used for years." Explains Oregon DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Day. "And the 'alternate' track is one in which we're able to engage the family in a way where they're the driver of the services that they need to keep their children safe in the home."
District Manager Jeremy Player of the Klamath Falls D.H.S. office notes that new approach was put in place last month...
"We're finding about 65% of the calls that we receive are falling into the alternative track."
Part of the new approach involves finding what local services families need, such as mental health, housing, substance abuse treatment, or budgeting.
"And then, really a navigator, or pilot, or mentor." Adds Day. "That helps families move through the service array, and bureaucracy if you will, to get where they need to be."
D.H.S. is hoping to expand the approach statewide...though no timeline has been set.
"This is the way that we want to be practicing child welfare in Oregon." States Day.
Klamath and Lake counties got about 800 thousand dollars to begin the new approach.
Oregon lawmakers have set aside 23 million dollars for a statewide launch.
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KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970's. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.
Lyle's job history is quite colorful. He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90's as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.
Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience. "The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story".
When he's not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.