The Governor and the Director of the Department of Human Services solicited an independent review of the DHS substitute care system to determine what improvements were needed in order to ensure child and youth safety. The independent review report revealed critical gaps in the child safety system across the department. The Child Safety Plan was developed to describe the actions the agency will take over the next two years to address all child safety issues identified in the independent review.
The Child Safety Plan responds to the independent review as well as themes across twelve years of Critical Incident Response Team (CIRTs) findings, fifteen reports, and at least twenty-five sources external to the agency. We recognize that critical improvements are needed to ensure child and youth safety, and the Child Safety Plan will enact organizational change throughout the child and youth safety system in order to put children and youth at the center of Department of Human Services’ service delivery. Implementation of the Child Safety Plan will cross the department and seek to cultivate responsibility for children and youth safety beyond the Child Welfare Program.
Clyde Saiki, DHS Director, appointed Nathan Rix as the new Director of Executive Projects. Nathan will be leading a department-wide and partner-engaged implementation plan to improve child and youth safety in DHS care, as a result of the Governor’s requested independent review of child safety in substitute care. The portfolio of projects will be run out of the Department of Human Service Director’s Office.
There are five goals in the Child Safety Plan. Each of the five goals have business objectives that support project work that have a specified scope and deadline.
- Build trust between DHS, families, providers and youth receiving DHS services;
- Ensure child and youth needs are considered when delivering services, especially substitute care placement decisions;
- Ensure swift, safe and comprehensive response to reports of child abuse;
- Cultivate a youth centered, safety first culture within DHS;
- Retain, train, develop and recruit certified families and licensed child caring agency providers.
All project work from the Child Safety Plan will be complete by December 2018. Each of the five goals have business objectives that support project work that have a specified scope and deadline.
- Develop and implement a partnership engagement plan with certified families, youth, providers, Tribes and other key partners.
- Develop and implement a communication plan with children, youth, families, providers, Tribes and other key partners.
- Develop and implement an employee engagement plan to cultivate shared ownership and accountability for child and youth safety among DHS staff.
- Develop and implement a child and youth focused, compliance philosophy with substitute care providers and families of origin.
- Adopt criteria and implement an assessment tool to determine the appropriate level of care for youth in placement decisions.
- Develop and apply effectively Oregon’s continuum of care for providers and foster care families.
- Redesign the process of responding to allegations of abuse using a department-wide approach.
- Centralize hotline operations and enhance standard protocols for screening.
- Develop and apply a proactive and safety-oriented case management practice led by caseworkers in collaboration with children, youth, family, Tribes (when applicable) and community partners.
- Develop and implement a substitute care retention, training, development and recruitment plan that applies a foster care family lifecycle model in coordination with community partners.
- Improve certification and licensing processes for providers and certified foster care families without sacrificing accountability.
- Develop and implement data-driven decision making processes for use across the child safety system.
- Implement a comprehensive training and development plan and a recruitment and retention plan for DHS caseworkers and supervisors.
- Streamline caseworker tasks and maximize time spent on family engagement and child and youth centered relationships.
- Develop and implement data-driven placement plan for substitute care.
The difference about this change is the public accountability and legislative oversight. The DHS Director has empowered a steering team to not just advise but give direction to implementation work. Also, the Governor and the DHS Director expect the agency and partners to work together to implement the plan – everyone working together as ambassadors for change across the DHS child safety system. The child safety system The DHS Director wants this team to remove barriers to change in system and related organizations who are our partners.
Yes. The primary governance body for this work will be the Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan Steering Team. They will provide oversight and adherence to goals and will monitor and control projects. It will include but is not limited to the following representatives: former foster youth, child caring providers, foster families, tribal leaders, staff from other related and relevant programs, such as the Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Services, members of past and existing legislative and executive task forces related to child and youth safety, and well-being, Oregon Legislators, the Oregon Health Authority (OHA), DHS field staff, DHS Executive Projects Director, DHS Child Welfare Director, DHS Chief of Staff and DHS Director.
Learn more about the Steering Team
Stakeholder engagement is essential to the goals of the Child Safety Plan. This project recognizes and embraces the importance of community involvement in idea development, decision making, implementation, evaluating outcomes, and the processes leading to child and youth safety. Only by working together we can create better outcomes for Oregon’s children and families.
In order to develop, implement, and sustain meaningful change across the agency, the Child Safety Plan project team will engage stakeholders at every level and every step of decision making. We have already identified partners representing former foster youth, certified foster care families, other licensed providers, Tribes, and community groups to begin to help us with this work.
We welcome your feedback and ideas for system change that support child and youth safety.
Please send your feedback to email@example.com
We invite you to stay informed on the latest child and youth safety efforts and how you can stay engaged with us:
Report child abuse to a local office of the Department of Human Services (DHS) or a local police department, county sheriff, county juvenile department, or Oregon State Police. You can also call 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse or neglect of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services. Click to find more information on Child Abuse and Neglect Reporting Numbers.
Find more information on Mandatory Reporting.
You can make a difference by stepping up when children need help the most by becoming a foster parent. You can give children a safe place to live while their families get the help they need. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent visit Everychildoregon.org or Department of Human Services’ How to Become a Foster Parent page for more information.
A prepared, knowledgeable, and skilled workforce is essential for Child Welfare to fulfill its goal to “keep children safe and well, and connected to their families, communities and cultural identities.” Training and development is a business objective within goal number one in the Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan (Child Safety Plan).
The redesign of the initial caseworker training recognizes the need for a holistic approach to preparing new workers to engage with families and communities, values and reinforces the partnership between classroom and field-based training, and incorporates essential adult learning principals within the first year of employment. The new training model will better prepare and support new workers as they undertake this critically important and multifaceted work.
New training includes the simulation of real life situations a caseworker will face in their daily work. This is a great way for our caseworker trainees to practice core skills like client engagement, interviewing techniques, problem-solving, trauma informed practice, awareness of culture and identity, assessment skills and courtroom presentation – All of these skills lead to better practice and better outcomes for our children, youth and families.
See a video clip of the simulation experience.
For more information about this training, visit the Child Welfare Caseworker Training Web page.
Learn about the importance of encompassing trauma-informed care in the approaches to working with children and families exposed to traumatic events or conditions.
To read more about trauma-informed practice visit:
The Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan (Child Safety Plan) responds to internal and community partner concerns about the child safety system. The plan launches priority projects to improve the child safety system, putting children and families at the center of all efforts.
December 2016 through December 2018.
Enhance field staff and community partner understanding of the work of the Department and the many developments underway to improve child and youth safety; positive outcomes from children and families resulting from agency advancements; and describe the actions the agency will take over the next two years around child and youth safety.
- Establish and reinforce youth centered, safety first culture within DHS.
- Establish and reinforce trust between Department of Human Services and foster families, children and youth, foster providers, advocates, stakeholders, community partners, Tribal Representatives, and the Legislature.
- Use quarterly business reviews and researched based outcome measure to track DHS progress on Federal and State requirements for Child Welfare outcomes.
- We’re keeping youth and families in the center of DHS services.
- This work will ensure safe and swift response to abuse in care.
- We’re increasing transparency.
- Monitor and support system-wide practice improvements with an equity lens.
- We will recruit and retain foster families and providers to help keep Oregon’s children safe and well cared for while in care.
- We will pursue public/private partnerships to best support children and families of origin across language, race and culture.
- Be informed.Check out oregonchildsafetyplan.org for the latest Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan information.
- This change is sustainable.
- Bring relief to staff to increase their focus on child safety.
- Improve Oregon Safety Model fidelity and child safety.
- DHS is already doing some good work; let the rest of the world know about it.
- Building culture within the Child Welfare program to achieve the vision.
Channels of Communication
The Department can use the following media to communicate to stakeholders:
Communication will include: Child Welfare Director messages, twitter, 10 priority project web updates, update letter to the Governor, Steering Team updates, sharing the DHS story videos, public meeting notices, and special project announcements on child safety.
For communication questions on the Unified Child and Youth Safety Implementation Plan, please contact: Kelsi Eisele at firstname.lastname@example.org.