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DHS news release

January 10, 2005

Contact: Gary Weeks (503) 945-6956; Patricia Feeny (503) 945-6955

State releases first report from child welfare response team

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) released today initial findings and preliminary recommendations generated by its Critical Incident Response Team (CIRT).

DHS Director Gary Weeks convened the first CIRT last month in response to the critical injury of Jordan Knapp, a 5-year-old foster child in Clackamas County. (Jordan was hospitalized for a critical injury to her head. She was released on Dec. 16 and is now living in a foster home.)

Within 30 days of initiating the CIRT process, the team is required to complete a review of the case-related policy, training, practice and personnel issues. During the next 30 days, DHS will continue a comprehensive review of these preliminary findings and assess the degree to which these findings have statewide implications.

"These preliminary findings reinforce the critical need for a pro-active and immediate response by DHS and its partners to ensure the safety and protection of children," said Weeks. "The CIRT process has increased our agency's ability to identify any improvements needed in practice."

Initial CIRT recommendations include addressing the need for mandatory reporter training for local and community partners; assessing documentation and organization of records relating to home visits, medical treatment and general foster care; and evaluating caseworker assignments, roles and responsibilities statewide.

At the request of DHS, a child protection expert from the National Resource Center for Child Protective Services will be in Oregon this week to begin reviewing child welfare policies and practice in the Portland-metro area.

The focus of this review will be on how critical decisions regarding safety of children are being made in Oregon's child welfare cases. This review is expected to take several weeks, at the minimum.

The CIRT preliminary report is available as a PDF document.