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DHS news release

December 20, 2004 Contact: Patricia Feeny (503) 945-6955


Program contact: Una Swanson (503) 945-6696


Child welfare Critical Incident Response Team activated second time

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) has activated a second Critical Incident Response Team in as many weeks, in response to fatal injuries sustained by a 15-month-old boy in Clackamas County.


DHS Director Gary Weeks initiated the second CIRT on Thursday after LifeFlight transported the child from his home to a Portland hospital for serious injuries allegedly sustained from abuse. The child died on Friday.


Weeks said DHS delayed announcing the team's activation at the request of Clackamas County law enforcement.


Both CIRTs are case-specific with different local members. DHS' Una Swanson, who led the first CIRT, is also this second team's leader. Other core members include representatives from Court Appointed Special Advocates, Department of Justice, Clackamas County Sheriff Office, and DHS child protective services, field services, communication and personnel.


The first CIRT convened December 8 in response to the serious injury of a 5-year-old Clackamas County girl. She was released from the hospital on Thursday and has been placed in a foster care home.


Weeks, meanwhile, welcomed the governor's request for an independent review of the Portland metro area's application of the department's child-welfare policies and procedures.


"I appreciate the governor's continuing commitment to the safety and protection of children," Weeks said, "and am confident that we will identify through the review and the CIRT process lessons that will strengthen the safety of children across Oregon."


Within 30 days of initiating the CIRT process, the team members must complete their review and write a critical incident report addressing the status of the case and their conclusions. If they identify issues, the CIRT must develop recommendations and communicate those, along with actions steps and progress reports to the public, as appropriate.