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Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response

Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response1/16/2015

​From:  DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day

To:  All DHS Child Welfare Staff & Oregon Stakeholders (Please FW to your local partner/stakeholder lists!)

The staged implementation of Differential Response (DR) is teaching us that change is hard and cultural shift takes time even when everyone involved is enthusiastic and ready. Districts 5 and 11, our first DR districts are providing us with great information and lessons learned as we prepare districts 4 and 16 for implementation this spring.
To give you a better idea of how Districts 5 and 11 are doing we want to share some data. A recent fidelity review of our first districts found they are both functioning at about 80 percent when assigning cases to the right track and the right response time.
So far the Alternative Response (AR) and Traditional Response (TR) split has been 50 to 63 percent assigned AR and 37 to 50 percent TR. These numbers can vary each month and district managers are tracking the numbers closely looking for themes and patterns. We are thrilled about how well staff is practicing the DR model and how well the screening tool seems to be working. We have made some minor changes to the tool with input from staff in D5 and D11. 
The additional staff authorized by the legislature in 2013 to bring our workforce from 67 percent staffed to about 86 percent has been critical in keeping workers enthusiastic about the big shift to DR. Districts feel better equipped to deal with all the change.
Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Family (SPRF) services are now available in all 36 counties. District 5 is now getting calls from families, directly asking for help. Even though we can still only serve families who have an assigned report of abuse and neglect, this is the culture change we want to see in our communities. The changing view of Child Welfare will serve us well as we continue to serve families working to keep children safe and at home.
Calling ahead for appointments has proved challenging for staff due to the lack of contact information for many families. Screeners are making adjustments working harder to get alternative ways to contact our families. We’ve also developed guidance that is helping staff with those initial calls and family interviews.
John Radich, District Manager District 5 says those families who have had past experience with Child Welfare seem to be the most vocal about the positive change. One District 5 supervisor recently stated that members of the African-American community have commented that they feel more respected when they a call before the worker comes to their home.
We look forward to sharing more success stories illustrating how DR is working for families and staff. Thank you for all your hard work. As a system, together we have reduced the number of children in foster care by 8.4 percent since September 2013. We are meeting our goals to safely and equitably reduce the number of children in foster care. We are all looking forward to continued positive progress in 2015.
Take care,
Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response1/2/2015

​From: DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day

To: All DHS Child Welfare Staff and Oregon Stakeholders

More than six months ago we began our staged implementation of Differential Response (DR). Our first DR districts: 5 and 11 are up and running, providing us with data that we are collecting and analyzing. Districts 4 and 16 are up next with a start date of spring 2015. District Managers John Radich (D5) and Jeremy Player (D11) now regularly meet with the DR Steering Committee sharing their experience and thoughts as we prepare our new DR districts.   

Jeremy Player described how DR demands not only a culture change within the agency but within the community as well. Many times the families we come into contact with do not trust our family centered approach. Families are hesitant to engage in optional services simply because of their past experience with Child Welfare or shared negative stereotypes. Player says he knows it will take time to make changes but he believes DR is 100 times better than what Child Welfare was doing in the past. He also strongly believes that DR is the right thing to do and now is the right time. He describes everyday as a learning experience for him as well as his staff.

John Radich agreed with Player saying his staff appreciates the DR resources made available and remains willing to learn. He describes DR as a great approach in engaging our families. But acknowledges it will take time to turn the agency’s reputation around in the community. To keep staff motived through this tough transition John says his staff shares stories of hope and success. 

Here is one story out of D5 submitted by a DR consultant that illustrates the family centered approach in action…

“I was out with a new worker yesterday on an Alternative Response case.  The family also had an open TANF case, which mom talked about during initial contact. During our initial contact with mom and her 2 year old we brainstormed with mom about the best way to complete interviews with the school age children and father who were not present. Mom shared it might work best for the kids if we interviewed them at home when she could be there, but she had a volunteer work program 5 days a week and is usually gone after kids get home from school. We offered to check in with her TANF worker to see if mom's volunteer work program could be excused so she could be home for the follow up interviews. I introduced the Child Welfare (CW) worker and the TANF worker after we returned to the office. The TANF worker already knew about the CPS assessment and shared that he regularly checks ORKids on his clients to track new CPS assessments. The TANF worker asked to go with the CW worker on the home visit and shared his experience with the family. Together they developed a plan to do a joint home visit and will organize roles during the interviews.”

Its experiences like these that will help change the culture both inside and outside our agency. Thank you to Jeremy, John and their staff for sharing their experiences and ideas. We continue to look to our DR districts for leadership and guidance as we move toward statewide implementation. 

Take care,

Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response12/8/2014

From: DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day

To: All DHS Child Welfare Staff and Oregon Stakeholders
Governor Kitzhaber released his 2015-17 balanced budget last week. This budget includes additional Child Welfare staff to support investments aimed at safely and equitably reducing the number of children in foster care. There are several strategies that are supported in this budget, including additional resources to continue our implementation of Differential Response (DR). Based on these additional resources, we predict we will complete our statewide roll-out of DR in 2017.
Today, Districts 5 and 11 are practicing DR and Districts 4 and 16 are in the readiness phase, working toward a start in the spring of 2015. We have developed a draft schedule for statewide implementation which gives staff and communities an idea of when DR will be coming to their area. This is a draft schedule and we may need to make adjustments over time but below is our best thinking.
County/District                                Start DR
D11-Klamath, Lake                                     5/14
D4-Linn, Benton, Lincoln
D16-Washington                                         4/15
D7-Coos, Curry
D8-Josephine, Jackson
D15-Clackamas                                           12/15
D1-Clatsop, Columbia, Tillamook
D2-Multnomah                                             8/16
D9-Hood River, Wasco, Gilliam, Sherman, Wheeler
D12-Umatilla, Morrow
D13-Union, Wallowa, Baker
D14-Grant, Harney, Malheur                     4/17
D3-Marion, Polk, Yamhill
D10-Jefferson, Crook, Deschutes            10/17
We gave thought to a number of factors in creating this schedule. When we developed the Oregon design for DR, we wanted to be sure our implementation was adequately supported and we felt comfortable that we would have consistency across the state and fidelity to the Oregon Safety Model (OSM) and our model of DR. The factors considered in creating this plan include the ability to provide sufficient support and coaching during the 6 month readiness period as well as post implementation: time to learn from the previous districts and make adjustments as needed; geography and travel schedules for coaching staff, and time for the districts to have peer to peer learning opportunities. As we move forward and learn from the counties that have implemented, we believe less preparation time may be needed as more districts are practicing DR and supporting each other. This could result in some acceleration in the schedule. If we encounter barriers we didn’t anticipate, it may result in statewide implementation taking longer. We will look for indicators of success and fidelity as we move through the districts to guide our schedule.
We remain committed to providing staff the resources needed to implement DR so that they can practice with fidelity after consultants move to the next counties. One of the important lessons learned from other states is that a staged implementation is critical because it allows for the accumulation of knowledge through trial and error. Often, the early counties encounter barriers, sometimes significant ones, which require problem solving and creative thinking. From their process of successfully working through practice changes and the removal of obstacles, they generate important knowledge that can then be shared with the next round of counties/regions. This process of internal, county-county TA has been described by many jurisdictions as critical to the success of their larger implementation process. Without such opportunities to develop and share knowledge, each wave must essentially reinvent the wheel all over again, and make themselves vulnerable to similar and new barriers the emerge. Our coaching model is one we adapted from other states and it has been essential in building the expertise of our staff so they can become DR experts in their own offices, guiding others in using the model and ultimately changing the front door to Oregon’s Child Welfare.
A change this big will not happen overnight. We have put a lot of thought into our state-wide roll out plan. Using implementation science principals we are working to give staff the resources and time they need to make this shift. Please contact me with any questions.
Take care,

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