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"Differential Response is central to our efforts to preserve families, keep children safe and avoid foster care entry wherever possible." -Erinn Kelley-Siel, DHS Director

Three kids laughing with bunny 

Oregon's vision for
Differential Response

Safe Children – Strong,
Supported Families

As a result of Oregon’s implementation of DR, the following results will occur: 

  • Children will be kept safely at home and in their communities; using the Oregon Safety Model and its core concepts and tools to guide decision making.
  • The community and Oregon DHS will work in partnership with a shared responsibility for keeping children safely at home and in their communities;
  • Families will partner with Oregon DHS to realize their full potential and develop solutions for their challenges;
  • Fewer children will re-enter the child welfare system through improved preventative and reunification services for families;
  • Disproportionality will be reduced among children of color, and;
  • Private agencies and community organizations will experience stronger partnerships with Oregon DHS on behalf of children and families.

What is Differential Response?

When we visit our doctor’s office, the level of treatment we receive depends on the reason for our visit.  For example, we don’t receive the same treatment when we have a sore throat as we do when our arm is broken. 

Child Welfare Program Director Lois Ann Day describes Differential Response as a system change that “redesigns the front door to Child Welfare.”

Differential Response moves away from a one-size-fits-all approach to child protection by adding an alternate response track.  Differential Response promotes partnering with parents, family, communities and neighborhoods to keep children safe.  View The Wisdom of Families video.

Differential Response has been implemented in other states and is part of a national reform effort in Child Welfare.  Research has shown that Differential Response can result in:

  • Children being found just as safe regardless of which track they
    are served in
  • Fewer repeat cases of child abuse and neglect
  • Lower placement rates of children in foster care
  • Decreased disproportionality among children of color in foster care
  • Reduced costs over time
  • Increased satisfaction by families and child welfare workers

Oregon is currently in the process of implementing Differential Response, with this practice beginning May 2014.  

Learn more about Oregon’s efforts to Implement Differential Response.

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