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Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response

Safe Children – Strong, Supported Families: Differential Response2/18/2015

From: DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Day

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

Our next Differential Response (DR) districts, 4 and 16, (representing Lincoln, Benton, Linn and Washington) are busy preparing for implementation in April. Since October these districts have been in what we call “the readiness phase.” That means they are orienting to what is DR and what is not, developing advisory committees, subcommittees, meeting with partners and contractors, working hard at mastering the Oregon Safety Model (OSM) and training staff and partners. All of this is being done, on top of regular daily duties. It’s a busy time.

You might be asking why it takes so long to implement DR; right now we are using a six-month period for readiness. Using implementation science principals we are working to give staff the resources and time they need to make this shift. DR is a major change in how we do our work and how an intervention is implemented can impact the outcomes of the intervention. We are striving for success so we are taking the time necessary to do this work right. As more districts implement the readiness phase could be adjusted.

In District 4, manager Marco Benavides says he and his staff are enjoying the ride of readiness. He advises his staff not to panic relying on the support of consultants and training. He is encouraging staff to volunteer for any task that relates to DR and consider it a learning experience and preparation for a change that is here to stay.

In District 16, manager, Rolanda Garcia says the district is very engaged in the readiness process and staff from Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency are actively participating in subcommittee work and trainings offered. She also says the feedback from the DR orientations that they are providing has been very positive from partners and stakeholders in the community. Rolanda says her district is on track with their readiness plan and they are eager to begin serving families in April.

Thank you to Marco and Rolanda for sharing their DR readiness experience. We will keep you all updated as these districts continue the statewide implementation of DR.

Take care,


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,

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