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.