I know that Oregon is working to implement Differential Response in its child welfare system, but doesn’t that depend on communities having the right services in place to work with parents on the issues that brought them to our attention in the first place?
This is where SB 964 comes in. This is the statute establishing Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families programs. We are working statewide to enhance the service array for families through collaboration with local community partners. These SB 964 services will specifically address needs of children and families who come to the attention of child welfare through a report of abuse or neglect. They are designed to address gaps in the service array that already exists in local communities -- specifically, those services aimed at maintaining children safely in the home, reducing the length of stay in foster care, supporting families in successfully reuniting with their children and reducing re-abuse of children.
These programs are an essential complement to the implementation of Differential Response and supporting children being safely parented at home. Families will connect to these services through the child welfare system. And all families involved with child welfare, whether they receive the traditional or the alternative response, will be able to access the expanded service array.
Some examples of the types of services communities are putting in place are: front end interventions; family meeting facilitation; trauma and therapeutic services; enhanced family visitation; youth transition and mentoring services; intensive in-home services; parent navigators; parenting education and classes; parent mentoring and coaching; relief nurseries; child care; housing stability assistance; emergency and short term housing assistance; and employment assistance.
To support statewide implementation, each local DHS office is working closely with their stakeholders, community and county partners, families and DHS staff in a process of identifying the current services available and resources needed through a gaps and needs analysis. The implementation of this expanded service program is scheduled to be completed by May, 2014 when we begin the staged implementation of Differential Response in the first counties, Lane, Klamath and Lake Counties.
As you might expect, DHS child welfare will be continually evaluating the impact of these resources for the families that access them. There is a complexity to this analysis because frequently, families access multiple services. Our goal and the goal of our communities is to keep children safe and increase the strength and resiliency of families. Our ability to join with our local partners and look at the effectiveness of the service array will increase our success and the success of our families.
Learn more about Oregon's DR implementation.