DHS News


To: All DHS Staff and Stakeholders
Message from Interim DHS Director Clyde Saiki

There are quiet heroes all across America.

They’re not rich or famous. They work hard every day. They aren’t seeking the spotlight or applause. They just work hard to do the right thing.

-- anonymous

The Governor made it clear that my assignment was to address some difficult issues here at DHS. One thing I’ve tried to do is ensure that those difficulties don’t overshadow the good work you do to serve Oregonians and their families. I see thousands of DHS employees and partners who are quiet heroes, working to provide excellent programs and services to vulnerable children, youth, people with intellectual, developmental or physical disabilities, families, and older adults.

I appreciate and thank you for your commitment and ongoing service to others, and I know people all across the state depend on you and your dedication.

This week, I want to wish all of you a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday, and I want you to know that I am thankful for the opportunity to work with you again. I also want to assure everyone that we will get through the current difficulties and continue our mission of assisting individuals and families to achieve safety, health and independence.




To: All DHS Staff and Stakeholders
Message from Interim DHS Director Clyde Saiki

Governor Kate Brown and I spoke at this morning’s meeting of the Senate Interim Human Services and Early Childhood Committee, and I wanted to take the opportunity to share some of those comments with you all, especially about the independent review of child welfare we will be conducting.

The Governor again expressed her strong commitment to protect the safety of vulnerable children and hold agencies accountable for ensuring that safety. She set out her expectation that one of my top priorities while I am here is to conduct an independent assessment of the DHS child welfare program, focused on the following areas:

Adequacy of oversight and licensing;

  • Handling reports and investigations of abuse and neglect;
  • Internal communications to share information and concerns;
  • Financial stability of providers; and
  • the issues we identify as the review moves ahead.

As part of that assessment, we will be hiring an independent third party contractor to lead the review of the child welfare program. We will be forming an advisory committee to help with the work, comprised of legislators, licensed providers, stakeholders, and others. In addition, I will work with an internal group of DHS staff and managers to help us support the contractor’s efforts. My plan is to provide weekly reports to the Governor, and I am committed to keeping DHS staff and stakeholders informed of the work, too. I also want to assure you that your input is important to this process -- because front-line staff and supervisors have information that can lead to solutions, too. My door continues to be open to anyone who has information to share.

I expect the result of the independent assessment will be a set of recommendations and changes to be reported to the Governor and the legislature for their review and action. In addition, I am sure that we will identify issues that can be corrected and implemented immediately, without the need to wait for the final report.

Because you work in what I think is the toughest job in state service, helping Oregon’s most vulnerable individuals and families, you know that making changes and corrective actions is not an easy task. However, I am confident we can make real improvements.




Clyde Saiki-small.jpgAs you know, Governor Kate Brown asked me to step into the interim director role at the Oregon Department of Human Services, and I wanted to send this message to you all today because I know that a change in leadership creates many questions. Let me answer some of those here. First of all, I'm not a stranger to DHS – in fact, I spent 23 years working at the agency, and I understand the complexity of the work you do each day. More importantly, I understand your commitment, passion and dedication to the people and families you serve. I want you to know I share that focus, too.

My time here will be limited, and we will begin the search for a permanent Director quickly. I'm not sure how many weeks or months it will take, but the Governor and I know that the selection of a new Director is an important decision. We are committed to finding a new director who can provide the leadership and vision that Oregonians deserve, and I will be here until we find the right person.

I'm looking forward to working with you again, and I am glad to be here – even if it was an unexpected event. Throughout my career I have never made major changes when starting a new assignment. It's important that I take the time to get oriented and get to know the issues and challenges. I will spend the next 3 – 4 weeks meeting with staff and talking to as many people as I can to provide me with the information I need to move forward. There will be hard work to do, but we will get through it, learn from it and continue the important mission of helping Oregonians and their families to be independent, safe and healthy.

I encourage you to talk with your supervisors if you have questions, and you should feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or concerns. I'll keep you informed as the search for a new Director moves forward.

Thank you for the work you do.


From: Jerry Waybrant, Acting Director

Caring about people and supporting them in difficult circumstances is what we do best. Since the tragic shooting at Umqua Community College (UCC) in Roseburg last week, we’ve seen that caring reach even greater levels as DHS staff across the state wrapped support around our colleagues in Roseburg. Thank you for being quick to act to help our staff and the people we serve across Oregon with direct ties to Roseburg.

A few days of distance from the event doesn’t ease the shock but it does give us space to begin our healing. Roseburg is my home and the place I started my DHS career 30 years ago. It was important to me to be there. Last Thursday I joined many of our staff at the community’s candlelight vigil and on Friday, I visited the local DHS offices.

As you would expect, our staff are stunned by what happened but they are resilient. They are focused on how their community can emerge from the tragedy in a way that moves Roseburg from being defined as a place where a terrible school shooting took place, to being a community defined by how it responded and recovered. They have asked all of us to do two things in that spirit:

  • To double down on our efforts to engage the individuals and families we serve in our programs to help them be safe, connected and contributing members of our local communities. 

There also are several simple ways you can show your support for UCC, our local staff and the Roseburg community: iamucc.jpg

  • Participate in a national moment of silence today at 11 a.m.
  • Send a note of support from you or your team to our local DHS offices in Roseburg.
  • Join DHS in the social media campaign growing on Twitter called #iamUCC by posting from your personal account.

If you would like to make a personal contribution to UCC or the victims, you can check the UCC website at www.umpqua.edu for recommendations. 

A tragedy like this truly sends shockwaves across the state and affects everyone to some degree. Please remember that if you or a family member needs support, you can access our Employee Assistance Program by calling 1-800-433-2320. It’s a free and confidential service. On a normal day, our work is tough enough and I want to encourage everyone to take care of themselves so we are able to take care of others as we move through the grieving process. 

Gov. Kate Brown travelled to Roseburg last Thursday after the shooting, spending the late afternoon and evening providing direct support to community members. She continues to be actively engaged in working with us to meet the needs of victims and their families.

Our daily work provides constant reminders that times of great adversity can bring great opportunity for individuals, families and communities. Channeling the emotion and energy this tragedy brought out into something positive honors the wishes of our colleagues in Roseburg and celebrates the lives of the victims. Please continue rising above the rhetoric and reaching out to those who can be our partners in positive change.

I look forward to hearing your ideas for how we can learn from this experience to better meet our goals of safety, health and independence for all Oregonians.  

Thank you for all you do.

~ Jerry

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."
-- T.S. Elliot

Hello DHS,

What an exciting time. A new biennium. Clear direction from the Governor and legislators. Alignment with many of the priorities of our local communities. An opportunity to lead - to excel - to exceed expectations. An opportunity to accelerate the achievement of our mission: helping Oregonians in their own communities achieve wellbeing and independence through opportunities that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity.

I couldn't be more proud of all that we have achieved together to get to this exact moment - this season of opportunity and new beginnings.

As I close out my time as your Director, please grant me this one request: Please take full advantage of the incredible privilege you have working for this great organization. Believe in your work, in yourselves, in each other. Believe in the power of relationship, of partnership and of community. Believe in the people we serve.

(Ok, so that's more than one request!)

Know that even though I won't be in the same role, I will be watching and cheering you on. Count me among your greatest supporters.

I believe in you.

Respectfully signing off as your Director one last time,



Hello DHS,

Seven years ago this month, I got a call letting me know that a great leader, Bryan Johnston, had unexpectedly passed away and asking me to step in as the Interim Director of the Children, Adults and Families Division at the Department of Human Services.

At the time, my son was a baby and just prior to that call, I had promised my family that I was going to stop commuting to Salem. Well, it's time for me to keep that promise. I have let Governor Brown know that it's time for me to leave DHS.

My decision to leave has not been an easy one to make. I am passionate about what we do for people, and I have incredible regard for all of you and our partners who do this work. Those of you who know me well know that I see the jobs that we do at DHS as more than just jobs -- I believe that they are callings. The position of DHS Director belongs to the people of Oregon, and it's been my privilege to have answered the call to serve in this role.

I am so proud of all that we have accomplished together:

  • We became more efficient so that we could not just meet the needs but improve our ability to serve hundreds of thousands more Oregonians during the Great Recession.
  • Fewer children are experiencing foster care because we've expanded services to stabilize families, and we are on track to implement Differential Response statewide in this upcoming biennium.
  • More Oregonians who have needed our services are going back to work, including a growing number of TANF parents, Vocational Rehabilitation consumers, and individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
  • Our adult abuse prevention and intervention services are stronger, with better data, more staff and stronger law enforcement and community partnerships.
  • More children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families have access to in-home and youth transition services to support them to achieve their goals.
  • And finally, even with increasing caseloads, we have reduced even further the percentage of older Oregonians served in nursing facilities.

As important to me as what we have accomplished is how we have gone about our work.

We've strengthened our commitment to customer service. Our connections in communities are stronger. We are aligned across the agency around the results we are trying to achieve -- from the front line to program to our business operations. Our partnerships across programs and services, both within and outside DHS, are growing. Service equity is a top priority. We have a commitment to continuous improvement. Throughout the organization we use data to manage and make decisions. And we have balanced our budget for three consecutive biennia.

Even with all of that, we have so much more to do. Resources continue to be limited, and the number of seniors and people with disabilities who qualify for long term care services is growing. Many of our consumers don't earn enough in their jobs to support themselves and their families. Too many Oregonians continue to experience abuse, neglect and domestic violence.

So, why am I taking this step now? A couple of reasons: first and foremost, my family has let me know that it's time. They have sacrificed a lot for me to do this job, and I am grateful to them for that. It also feels like the right time for the agency. Leadership throughout our organization is strong, driving toward a collective vision for the future, and ready to continue the important work that needs to be done. And last, but certainly not least, we have incredible support from Governor Brown and legislative leaders as we begin a new biennium.

I will be your Director until Governor Brown decides on a replacement. Until then, know that it has been my honor to lead and be part of this organization and to have been part of creating safety, health and independence for people throughout our great state.


Erinn Kelley-Siel
Department of Human Services ​


Additional detailed information on the DHS budget web page (scroll down to the “Legislatively Adopted Budget” section).

This webpage includes a PDF version of this letter, a side-by-side comparison of the last budget to the new one (very useful), as well as relevant documents from the Legislative Fiscal Office.


DHS Director’s Letter re: 2015-17 Legislatively Adopted Budget for the Oregon Department of Human Services

The mission of the Department of Human Services (DHS) is to help Oregonians in their own communities achieve safety, well-being and independence through services that protect, empower, respect choice and preserve dignity. DHS is responsible for the care of some of Oregon's most vulnerable citizens – children, families, people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, and seniors. DHS is also responsible for serving Oregonians at times when they are most in need – when they have experienced abuse, when they are hungry, when they are homeless.

The 2015-17 Legislatively Adopted Budget (LAB) continues many of the efforts that began in the 2013-15 biennium, supporting DHS to achieve the following outcomes:

  • Safety for children;
  • Safety for vulnerable adults;
  • Independence for older adults and people with disabilities;
  • Family stability and employment;
  • Community employment for people with disabilities;
  • School readiness for young children;
  • Job retention for low-income working families; and
  • Program performance and integrity.

The following is a summary by program area of the 2015-17 the Legislatively Adopted Budget (LAB):

Aging and People with Disabilities: The Aging and People with Disabilities (APD) program area provides services and supports to Oregonians over the age of 65 and to adults with physical disabilities. In partnership with Area Agencies on Aging, the APD program area also provides Older Americans Act and Oregon Project Independence services to over 360,000 individuals and eligibility services to over 163,000 seniors and people with disabilities each year.

The 2015-17 LAB for APD includes the following:

  • Funds forecasted caseload levels and projected cost per case increases
  • Continues provider reimbursement rates in effect for 2013-15 (eliminates inflation)
  • Invests $18 million GF combined into APD/DD/MH toward Department of Labor requirements for in-home services ($14.4 million of that investment will benefit APD consumers)
  • Funds nursing facilities at statutory rate
  • Funds planning for non-MAGI eligibility automation project (in Program Design Services)
  • Invests $5.6 million TF for new adult protective services data system
  • Funds state staff at 90.2% of workload model (93 new positions)
  • AAAs continue at 95% equity
  • Transitional one time funds ($350,000) for Home Care Commission’s private pay registry
  • Requires Home Care Commission to adopt statewide plan to expand home care worker workforce

        Aging and People with Disabilities Special Purpose Authorization Continues:

        • Oregon Project Independence expansion for seniors at $10.3 million
        • Reporting for Community-Based Care and nursing facility utilization
        • Personal Incidental Fund increase for nursing facility residents continues 
        • Funding for Evidence-Based Health Promotion Programs
        • Continues OPI Expansion project to younger people with disabilities
        • Caregiver training continued at $3.3 million
        • Adds a COLA for HCBS for Residential, Assisted Living and In-Home Agency providers at 2.5% per year starting 7/1/15 and 7/1/16.
        • Adds funding for a Deaf and Hard of Hearing needs assessment
        • Retains Aging and Disabilities Resource Connection (ADRC) Options counseling
        • Funds one-time Senior Taxpayer Hardship relief fund for about 200 households not served in 2013-15

        Eliminates or Reduces:

        • Reduces Older Americans Act sequestration backfill
        • Gatekeeper program
        • Innovation fund except for one project related to Our House ($350,000)

        Developmental Disability Programs: The Developmental Disabilities program area serves over 23,500 children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) throughout their life span, and the number of eligible individuals requesting services is increasing. Counties, Brokerages, Providers, Families and Self-Advocates are all critical parts of Oregon’s Developmental Disabilities service system that focuses on individuals with I/DD living in the community and having the best quality of life at any age.

        The 2015-17 for DD program area includes the following:

        • Funds forecasted caseload levels and projected cost per case increases
        • Funds capacity for improving employment outcomes for people with I/DD
        • Invests $18 million GF combined into APD/DD/MH toward Department of Labor requirements for in-home services ($3.6 million of that investment will benefit I/DD consumers)
        • Builds community provider capacity for I/DD clients with significant long-term needs
        • Provides 4% provider rate increase ($26.07 million Total Funds) starting 1/1/16 for non-bargained provider types residential and non-residential agency providers, except transportation.  
        • Continues Fairview Trust at approximately $6 million and adds funding due to the eastern Oregon Training Center property transfer
        • Funds CDDP and Brokerage workload models at 95% equity
        • Adds funding ($40,000) to Family-to-Family Network program
        • Invests in the Employment First Initiative, building Vocational Rehabilitation and benefits counselor capacity, and enhancing supports for capacity building ($10.8 million Total Funds,  same as in Vocational Rehabilitation below)
        • Invests $5.7 million GF and 127 positions in staffing and enhanced program design in the Stabilization and Crisis Unit (SACU)
        • House Bill 2618 classifies employees of the Department of Human Services (DHS) working in certain residential facilities whose duties include caring for residents with intellectual and developmental disabilities as Police and Fire service under the Public Employees Retirement System (PERS)

        Child Welfare Programs: Child Welfare Programs serve children and families when children are subject to abuse and neglect in their home environment. Child protection workers respond to all reports of familial child abuse/neglect and, if a child cannot be safe at home, place children in foster care.  In a single year, Child Welfare programs respond to over 64,000 reports of child abuse and neglect and on any given day in Oregon, about 7,800 children are served in the foster care system.

        The 2015-17 LAB for Child Welfare includes the following:

        • Funds forecasted caseload levels and projected cost per case increases
        • Continues investment in Differential Response and Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families programs
        • Rates for Behavioral Rehabilitative Support providers continue to be funded at settlement agreement level
        • Adds one Child Welfare Quality Control reviewer position (In Program Design Services)
        • Funds workload model at 85.6% (114 new positions)
        • Adds $1.6 million to support Runaway and Homeless Youth programs
        • Adds $250,000 GF for a youth shelter and assessment project in Lane County
        • Invests $800,000 GF into two pilot projects in the Child Welfare program focusing on enhanced supports for foster parents
        • Invests $104,000 GF in a Family Sentencing Alternative Pilot Program

        Self Sufficiency Programs: Self Sufficiency programs are designed to help families achieve economic security with temporary supports for their most basic needs, such as food, health insurance coverage and child care, while working to meet their employment goals. In a single year, Self Sufficiency program serves more than 1 million Oregonians.

        The 2015-17 LAB for SSP includes the following elements:

        • Funds forecasted caseloads levels and projected cost per case increases
        • Continues contracted providers at current rate levels (eliminates inflation)
        • Reinvests $30 million GF caseload savings in TANF redesign, including 17 new case manager positions. That investment supports
          • Provides training required to implement changes (October 2015)
          • Expands contracts for pre and post TANF services (January 2016)
          • Raising the income level for clients exiting TANF from $616 to $1012 (April 2016)
          • Reduces ERDC co-pay for three months while exiting TANF (April 2016)
          • Creates three months of limited transition payments to families exiting TANF (April 2016)
          • Eliminates ”deprivation” as an eligibility requirement (April 2016)
          • Expands caretaker relative definition (April 2016)
          • Increases flexibility in issuing support services to prevent TANF entry (July 2016)
          • Supports evaluation strategies and data analytics (funded in shared services budget)
          • Improves EBT card security by adding names to reissued cards (HB2392)
          • Accesses lottery prize information for overpayment recovery (HB2393)
        • Invests in Employment Related Daycare (ERDC) program ($45 million)
          • Protects eligibility for children for 12 months (October 2015)
          • Allows working student parents to access ERDC (October 2015)
          • Allows self-employed parents to access ERDC (October 2015)
          • Changes ERDC exit eligibility from 185% to 250% Federal Poverty Level (October 2015)
          • Increases provider rates to 75th percentile (October 2015)
          • Increases average caseload by about 700 to 800 families (October 2015)
          • Lowers co-pay for using higher quality providers (January 2016)
          • Gives incentives to high quality providers caring for subsidy children (January 2016)
          • Invests in program infrastructure and system costs
        • Transfers food assistance programs from Housing and Community Services to DHS, restores permanent funding for food programs of $450,000 and adds one-time funding of $400,000 (total of an additional $850,000) (Oregon Food Bank)
        • Funds workload model at 75.8%
        • Provides funding to help 211 maintain a statewide presence
        • Funding for a one-time pilot project in Jackson and Josephine counties for eligible clients to enrolled training programs that match up with in-demand, high wage job openings, such as in the healthcare or information technology. Clients will receive a scholarship/stipend to help augment Pell grants, with average awards expected to be about $2,000 per client; about 150 clients are estimated to participate in the program over the biennium. The pilot project is a joint effort between the Rogue Workforce Partnership, the Oregon Employment Department, and the Department of Human Services
        • Funds Hunger Task Force

        Vocational Rehabilitation: The Vocational Rehabilitation program (VR) assesses, develops service plans and provides vocational rehabilitation services to youth and adults whose disabilities present impediments to employment. Every year, VR provides basic services to over 12,000 Oregonians with disabilities, Youth Transition Services to approximately 3,500 young people, and Supported Employment to over 250 individuals. Independent Living programs, also funded in this budget, serve almost 19,000 Oregonians each year.

        The 2015-17 LAB for VR includes the following:

        • Invests in the Employment First Initiative, building Vocational Rehabilitation and benefits counselor capacity, and enhancing supports for capacity building ($10.8 million Total Funds, same as in I/DD above)

        Agency Administration: Central DHS and Shared Services for DHS/OHA provide oversight and direction for programs and services to ensure the agency’s mission is achieved.

        The 2015-17 LAB for Central and Shared Services includes the following:

        • Invests in REAL-D IT project to enhance collection of Race, Ethnicity, Language and Disability information across DHS and Oregon Health Authority Programs
        • Invests $950,000 General Fund in Oregon Enterprise Data Analytics project to build statewide capacity for better cross-systems data analysis and forecasting. LAB calls out analysis of TANF redesign as a priority
        • Funds costs associated with recovering public assistance cover overpayments for lottery winnings (HB 2393)
        • Funds bargaining pot for workers who are not state employees ($10.7 million GF is Special Purpose Appropriation in Emergency Board)
        • Assumes 3% vacancy factor for positions in all DHS programs, reducing overall workload capacity
        • Eliminates inflation for most programs and services

        DHS is committed to innovation, transparency, and prioritizing improvements that will use resources efficiently and effectively. Our success in that effort depends upon nearly 8,000 employees across the state, as well as upon thousands of community and service delivery partners, all of whom are dedicated to supporting and improving the lives of Oregonians. Every year, more than one-million people rely on DHS services, and important services provided by other agencies and organizations, to meet their most basic needs, to be safe, to live as independently as possible, and to support their efforts to achieve economic independence. We are thankful for the legislative support to meet the needs of vulnerable Oregonians.

        If you have questions about the Legislatively Adopted Budget for DHS, please send them to communications.dhs@state.or.us and we will get you the information you need.

        ~Erinn Kelley-Siel, DHS Director​​


        Hello DHS,

        I am pleased to announce a new opportunity for DHS staff to gain professional development AND help the organization improve – it’s called Lean Academy. The Office of Continuous Improvement (OCI) will offer the Lean Academy beginning this fall, which will provide DHS staff the ability to increase Lean knowledge and skills, and the opportunity to apply continuous improvement methods in their local area.

        What is Lean Academy?

        Lean Academy is an empowering training program focused on application of Lean concepts into daily work. The candidates who are selected remain in their current jobs, but will be provided training in Lean methodologies. Most importantly, participants will have the opportunity to practice that skill in everyday situations, embedding the concepts of Lean into their professional areas of expertise. Participants in the Lean Academy will be guided through implementing a local process improvement project. Each participant will get in-person classroom training and 1:1 mentorship with an OCI Lean Leader for support.

        What will Lean Academy provide DHS?

        Those who successfully complete the program will be designated as the Lean expert in their local area, providing the support and expertise to improve regional efforts and processes, while remaining in their current jobs. By increasing the capacity of individuals throughout the department, we hope to create a culture for sustainable and independent support of locally focused Lean efforts.

        Why Now?

        DHS leadership has made the commitment to transform how Lean application is resourced and supported within every area and unit. We know that DHS staff are ready for the next step in Lean application in areas that are most important for them. The Lean Academy provides an avenue for staff to understand how to recognize and apply continuous improvement in their area of professional influence, supporting the larger vision of continuous improvement for DHS as a whole. As a state agency, our commitment to taxpayers is that we will deliver services in the most efficient and effective way possible. Fulfilling our vision as a continuous learning and continuous improvement organization requires more than just twenty dedicated Lean leaders in central office. If you’re interested in getting more Lean skills and want to help out in your local community, I encourage you to apply!

        When can you apply?

        The Lean Academy will begin recruitment in August, and candidates will be selected through a competitive application process. Keep an eye out for more information as this exciting opportunity becomes available.

        Questions: Please send any inquiries regarding the Lean Academy to:  mailto:OCI.Director@dhsoha.state.or.us​​

        To: All DHS Staff
        Message from DHS Human Resources Director Becky Daniels


        With the passage of Measure 91 last year, recreational marijuana became legal at midnight on June 30, 2015. The new law allows Oregonians who are 21 and older to grow limited amounts of marijuana on their property and to possess limited amounts of recreational marijuana for personal use.

        However, we want to emphasize that Measure 91’s approval does not change DHS nor the state of Oregon’s requirement of a drug-free workplace. DHS policy, state law and federal law do not allow the possession, distribution or use of marijuana (in any form) at work, on state property or in state vehicles.

        DHS continues to comply with the federal Drug-free Workplace Act of 1988. Violation of the policy can result in disciplinary action, up to and including termination, in accordance with applicable collective bargaining agreements. If you have any questions, please contact your supervisor or Human Resources representative.

        We understand the confusion about what will be and what will not be legal after July 1, and the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) has launched a website to answer the basic questions. You can go to www.whatslegaloregon.com for more information.

        Thank you for your continued cooperation in maintaining a safe, secure workplace for everyone.

        -- Becky

        >> Here’s the information the Department of Administrative Services (DAS) sent to us yesterday, there is also a FAQ.

        RE: Guidance for Agencies Regarding Marijuana Use on State Property by Members of the Public

        As the July 1, 2015, legalization of recreational marijuana under Measure 91 (2014) approaches, we continue to receive inquiries into when law enforcement needs to be notified about violations of the law. In general, we are recommending that education of citizens is the first and highest priority in the early days of legalization.  Please refer to OLCC’s website: www.whatslegaloregon.com for information on their “Educate Before You Recreate” program.  The “SHARE” link on the page has printable posters and cards that state employees can hand out in the event an individual asks if they can use or is observed using marijuana in any form on state grounds. 

        Please direct staff to rely upon these materials and the frequently asked questions, to ensure all state agencies are communicating a consistent and accurate message regarding recreational marijuana use.  If an individual claims that their use in public is allowed because they possess a medical marijuana card, staff can inform them that medical marijuana use is not allowed in public citing ORS 475.316.

        Measure 91 prohibits any use of marijuana in a “public place,” defined as “a place to which the general public has access and includes, but is not limited to, hallways, lobbies, and other parts of apartment houses and hotels not constituting rooms or apartments designed for actual residence, and highways, streets, schools, places of amusement, park, playgrounds, and premises used in connection with public passenger transportation.” 

        If your state agency has property in a county or city that chooses to “opt out” of either the medical or recreational systems, please know that opt out only applies to marijuana-related business and does not affect the ability of individuals to grown their own marijuana or use marijuana in counties or cities covered by a local opt out.

        The penalty for use of marijuana in public is a Class B violation—essentially a traffic ticket.  Possession of large amounts of marijuana and delivery of marijuana for consideration (except for retail stores when they begin sales) remain crimes.  It is never okay for minors to possess or use marijuana, and crimes involving children are of greatest concern.

        Ultimately, the decision on whether or not to engage law enforcement will come down to a judgment call by the state employee dealing with the issue, balancing both the appropriate use of law enforcement resources with the need to ensure public safety on state grounds.  If you are within a city or county that has separate agreements with local law enforcement, you are encouraged to have a dialogue with them directly.


        Hello DHS,

        Yesterday, we celebrated Father’s Day, and I want to take this opportunity to do a message about fathers and our support for them. I think I speak for all of us when I say that whether married or single, gay or straight, biological or adoptive – dads have critically important roles to play when it comes to their children. 

        Our programs are improving our support for fathers’ active participation and involvement in their children’s lives, and we’re strengthening our commitment to supporting dads to be the best parents they can be. For example, in some areas of the state, child welfare staff have support groups focusing specifically on parenting as a father, and peer-mentoring by other fathers who have experienced the child welfare system. Just this session, the Legislature is poised to eliminate the deprivation requirement in our TANF program -- an antiquated requirement that forced custodial parents to show a lack of involvement by the non-custodial parent in order to qualify for the program. 

        We have a long way to go to champion equally the role of both dads and moms throughout our programs, but we are beginning to move in the right direction. In honor of the many great current – and future - fathers out there, I wanted to share a few stories about fathers from our work here at DHS.

        First, here’s a story from Child Welfare. This father's day was extra special for Social Service Assistant Bruce Kennedy-Smith. More than 7 years ago the case of a 10 year old boy came across his desk. The child had nearly 20 placements, and he had been in foster care most of his life, in and out residential care. He was angry with behavioral issues most foster parents couldn't handle. It was Bruce's job to find him the best placement possible. Bruce dug into the work on behalf of this boy, and he found him a permanent home. The family took him in as a foster child and devoted their lives to this boy they grew to love. Their love and consistency allowed him to flourish. He returned to mainstream school and graduated from high school. One week before his 18th birthday, his foster family adopted him. As a father of three, Bruce smiles when he thinks of this boy, knowing he finally has a permanent family, with a mom and dad to call his own.

        The second story comes from Self Sufficiency. Dustin is a single father with 3 boys (ages 4, 8 & 10). Dustin is currently receiving TANF and SNAP, and he will be starting a job search program. He was given custody of his children on short notice through Child Welfare, and he had never been a single parent 24/7. He was eager to find a job and provide for his children, but emotionally he was drained and stressed about how to handle his three boys and everything that went along with that – school, counseling, housing, court hearings and more. Dustin’s DHS worker realized that this was a perfect opportunity to offer Family Support and Connections. With that support, Dustin has learned how to manage his time properly, has gained organizational skill by keeping all documents and necessary forms needed for his courts, children’s info and bills. He has learned how to provide a stable home -- and he is ready to start looking for work.

        The final story is about an older adult and his son. Meet John, a man who lives in his own home with his wife of 74 years. Though John has a strong support system of friends and family, a few years back they were struggling to keep him at home due to his growing care needs. The stress was taking its toll on the family. John’s oldest son is very close with his father and wanted to help his dad live with as much dignity as possible. He reached out to the local community and connected with DHS to receive services through Oregon Project Independence (OPI). A worker helped John and his wife get assistance with tasks like bathing and grooming and answered questions for them about their dental care. In order to gain greater access to their community, the worker also found a resource to install a ramp for their home.  Now John and his family can breathe a little easier. Even though he doesn't like to go out too often, he still tries to attend church each Sunday with his family. He is living as independently as possible, thanks to a caring son who wanted to help his father.

        This Friday is the second anniversary of the passing of the man who played the role of father for me personally, my grandfather. A child of the Great Depression, my grandfather started teaching at the age of 16 in a one room school house. He parented his own children while putting himself through college and advanced degree programs. In his final years, my mom provided his care, and my own kids had a chance to learn from him, be known by him, and forever be imprinted by his values and his stories.

        As the child of a single mother, I have great respect for moms. But today, I want to say thank you to all of you who are working to support the dads (and granddads) we serve to be the best parents they can be. I also want to thank everyone working to support the boys and young men we serve, recognizing them as possible future dads with great potential to positively influence the lives of children of their own some day!


        Today is World Elder Abuse Awareness Day. At last month’s White House Conference on Aging, one of the topic areas was elder abuse. They produced a policy brief that explains that elder abuse is a serious public health problem affecting millions of older Americans each year. Elder abuse affects older adults across all socioeconomic groups and care settings. Due to diminished capacity, older adults with cognitive impairment are at greater risk of abuse. Additionally, African American, Latino, low-income, and socially isolated older adults are victimized disproportionately.  About two-thirds of elder abuse victims are women. Financial exploitation of older adults can cause large economic losses for older adults, families, and society. In addition, abuse increases the reliance on federal health care programs such as Medicaid and Medicare. Research suggests that victims of elder abuse may be four times more likely to be admitted to a nursing home, and three times more likely to be admitted to a hospital.

        In addition to recognizing World Elder Abuse Awareness Day, I want to focus closer to home because we believe every Oregon adult deserves to live in safety – free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

        Here are some Oregon facts:

        • A total of 2,569 older adults and people with physical disabilities were determined to have been abused in 2013.
        • In community settings in Oregon, there has been a 39% increase in substantiated abuses since 2011.
        • Financial exploitation and neglect are the most frequent forms of abuse, with an estimated 5 percent of the 60+ population falling victim each year.
        • $11,585,475 is the estimated loss in 2013 to Oregon seniors and people with disabilities due to financial exploitation.
        • In Oregon, financial exploitation allegations increased by 18% from 2012 to 2013 and represented 42% of all abuse investigations conducted by APS. 
        • The majority of elder abuse victims are women who live at home or community based care settings.
        • Nearly 50 percent of older Americans with dementia experience some form of abuse.
        • Oregon Adult Protective Services in 2013 investigated a total of 3,625 abuse cases in long-term care facilities, 8,016 in community settings, and an additional 2,609 self-neglect situations.

        Behind these statistics are real people, both the victims of abuse and the many dedicated Adult Protective Services Specialists who work to protect vulnerable adults and children. Adult Protective Services Specialists in Oregon face danger, difficulty and hard choices every working day. I want to take the opportunity to share just a couple of comments from those on the front lines of elder abuse, working quietly to assure the safety, dignity, health and self-determination of our state’s vulnerable elderly and disabled community:


        “We deal with incredibly complex cases: complicated fraud and financial abuse investigations, requiring detailed reconstruction and accounting; victims and perpetrators  with mental health issues, alcoholism and drug abuse; unsanitary and hazardous environments; individuals with dementia and other cognitive impairments requiring massive investments of time and resources; various institutional investigations  that require an entirely different  skillset to maneuver.” (RG, Hillsboro)


        - -

        “We are highly-trained and educated individuals, performing legally, medically and ethically complex investigations. We are valuable and worthy of the investment in our services.” (AD, St Helens)


        Thank you for the work you do! DHS offers many resources on the web, including signs of elder abuse and where to call for help. The Office of Adult Abuse Prevention and Investigations also has annual reports of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation.

        Finally, because we’re all mandatory reporters of elder abuse, as well as child abuse, today is another opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to keeping our most vulnerable individuals safe, healthy and independent.

        Have a great week!



        Hello DHS,

        DHS exists to help achieve safety, health and independence for those we serve, and I know that this work has meaning for each and every employee at the agency. Last year at about this time, I started asking people to tap into their personal "WHY" – and we’ve been calling this effort “Know Your Why.” Know Your Why is a good way for all of us to think more deeply and thoughtfully about our efforts to inspire ourselves to continuously improve our work and our services.

        Today, I wanted to provide another tool I like that came from the Town Hall meetings​ we held across the state last summer. It’s an affirmation of our beliefs and goals for the individuals and families we work with – as well as for the agency. It’s something you can print out and hang on a bulletin board or in your work space, and it’s another good way to highlight WHY we do the work we do.

        In the coming weeks, I want to talk more about the results we’re seeking for Oregonians and how we are going to get there. Of course, I always want to hear from you about your successes and challenges in achieving these goals. In my very first message to you as the new DHS Director a little more than four years ago, I said, I do this work because I believe in what we do."  That’s still true today, and I thank you for believing in the work we do, too. Oregonians are better off because of your commitment and service.

        Have a great week!




        Hello DHS,

        We have an agency-wide Quarterly Business Review (QBR) coming up next week, so I’ve been thinking about our scorecard and how it reflects how we are doing on achieving outcomes for the people we serve. I’ve also been thinking about all of you: DHS employees. Nationally, about one-third (31.5%) of U.S. workers said they were engaged in their jobs in 2014, according to a Gallup survey. However, 51% said they were "not engaged" and 17.5% were "actively disengaged" at work. And these results were an improvement over past surveys!

        Over that last several years we have also been measuring employee engagement, and many of you have taken the DHS employee survey. We use seven questions from that survey to measure “engagement,” and the survey is given to about 25% of the DHS population (randomly selected) each quarter. At the March QBR, we got an analysis of the answers those seven important questions, and today I’d like to share some highlights with you.  Here’s a chart with the average DHS scores by Program area (The three lowest scores by program area and DHS have been shaded): 

        DHS Scores by Program Area
        6. When I am at work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best everyday. 85% 83% 81% 83% 78% 84% 83%
        7. In the last seven days I have received praise for doing good work. 68% 66% 69% 68% 70% 69% 69%
        8. My supervisor or someone at work seems to care about me as a person. 89% 91% 94% 86% 85% 91% 89%
        9. There is someone at work who encourages my professional development. 77% 78% 77% 76% 78% 80% 77%
        10. When I am at work my opinions seem to count. 78% 82% 72% 75% 77% 79% 78%
        11. The DHS Mission and Core Value makes me feel my job is important. 87% 86% 80% 86% 84% 80% 85%
        14. During the past year I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow. 80% 83% 82% 81% 82% 84% 82%

        It’s interesting! I believe the information from the survey is telling us the following things:

        • We have a pretty engaged workforce (of course, we can always do better)
        • We have consistent areas of strength (though still opportunities to improve)
        • Employees feel: they have the opportunity to do what they do best every day (83% positive); that someone cares about them at work (89% positive); the DHS core mission and values make their job feel (85% positive); during the past year that they have had the opportunity to learn and grow (82% positive).
        • We also have a few consistent areas of challenge. Employees feel: that they received praise in the last 7 days (69% positive); there is someone who encourages my professional development (77% positive); when I am at work my opinion seems to count (78% positive).

        The survey really reflects our culture. The answers relate to development, to inclusion, to appreciation, to empowerment. They relate directly to our Core Values of Professionalism, Responsibility, Integrity, and Respect.  They relate to the DHS Leadership Model competencies (Accountability, Communication, and Empowerment). While DHS managers and supervisors play a critical role in fostering a positive culture, we all lead by example. What is one thing you could do differently to impact the lowest scores above -- Give specific praise to a coworker? Really listen to someone’s opinion? Pass along a word of encouragement to someone who appears to be struggling?

        This is what I’ve been thinking about, and I encourage you to engage in a discussion of the chart above at a unit or branch meeting. I will also do my part to lead by example to discuss this at one of my meetings with the Cabinet and Executive Team.

        You know that I greatly appreciate everything you do, your commitment to DHS, and the difference you make in the lives of many Oregonians and our communities. Please send me your thoughts on how we can continue to do good work and on areas where we can continue to improve!


        I am pleased to announce that Reginald, C. Richardson, Ph.D., ACSW, LCWS, has accepted the position of Director of the DHS Self-Sufficiency Program, effective June 1, 2015. He replaces former Director Liesl Wendt, who joined Multnomah County's Department of Human Services in October, 2014.
        As Director, Dr. Richardson will lead the agency’s programs designed to help families achieve economic security with temporary supports for their most basic needs, such as food and child care. The Self-Sufficiency Program area is at an important crossroads. With Legislative support, we have an opportunity to restructure and rebuild our program to more effectively assist people in moving from poverty to prosperity, and this work will require a strong, proven leader capable of working with DHS staff and partners around a change agenda.
        After a national search, I’m confident that Dr. Richardson has the skills and capabilities required of this position at this important time and place. He brings to this work a unique combination of experience and expertise. He is highly educated, with a graduate degree in social work and a doctorate from the University of Illinois at Chicago. More importantly, he has put those credentials into actual practice in research, program design and implementation in ways that will directly benefit Oregonians served by our programs.
        Dr. Richardson is a licensed clinical social worker and licensed direct child welfare services employee – skills that will help the agency continue to advance in cross-organizational work between Child Welfare and Self-Sufficiency Programs. He is passionate about getting results for people, optimistic about the positive impact our work can have on people’s lives, and committed to the efficiency and integrity of our programs. Finally, he brings direct, real-world experience with children, families and communities, including underrepresented and underserved communities, something that is so valuable in providing leadership to our own dedicated, direct service staff across the state.
        With this combination of proven leadership, clinical expertise, administrative experience and work as a community mobilizer, he is extraordinarily qualified to lead this important program.
        “This position is an amazing opportunity to live out my personal and professional commitment to make a positive difference in the lives of families working to achieve economic stability," Dr. Richardson said.
        Please join me in welcoming Dr. Richardson to Oregon!
        Hello DHS,

        Older adults are a vital part of our state and our society. One way we show our gratitude is by celebrating Older Americans Month each May and highlighting our focus on how older adults are taking charge of their health, getting engaged in their communities, and making a positive impact in the lives of others. 

        This year is also the 50th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1965. Here at DHS, we believe that every Oregon adult deserves to live in safety – free from abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, and we believe that every Oregonian has the right to live as independently as possible -- with dignity, choice and self-determination. In honor of Older Americans Month, this week I want to share a message from our Aging and People with Disabilities Director Mike McCormick on the work we do to provide support for older adults. 


        Recognition of Older Americans Month

        Message from DHS Aging and People with Disabilities Director Mike McCormick

        Fifty years ago, President Johnson signed the Older Americans Act (OAA) into law and with it changed the future of aging adults in our country for the better. While we celebrate Older Americans Month annually, this year represents a special milestone in the trail blazed before us and the obstacles overcome to get us to where we are today – it is an acknowledgement of a half century of work, effort and dedication 

        The theme for this year’s celebration of Older Americans Month is “Get into the Act,” a call for engagement, outreach and action. This is especially fitting for today’s consumers. More and more, we work not only with the aging population but with their children and grandchildren directly. 

        Family members are often our strongest advocates in furthering the efforts surrounding the wellbeing of older adults. Raising awareness at every level, engaging with local communities, and focusing our efforts on informing and educating our consumers appropriately will only strengthen our commitment to keep our most vulnerable citizens safe and free from neglect and financial exploitation.

        Seniors in Oregon today live more independently, with more dignity and choice, than ever before. Home-delivered meals, caregiver support, community-based assistance, and elder abuse prevention are among the many initiatives we have today thanks to the Older Americans Act. These programs give the aging population in our state the support and services they need to live independently in their communities and the freedom to stay in their homes with dignity. 

        The work we do with Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) of Oregon helps to identify, connect and provide resources at the local level to further these efforts. 

        For years, Oregon has led the way creating and maintaining innovative ways to ensure older adults of all circumstances receive the services they want and need in the place of their choosing. I have no doubt we will continue to blaze the trail for generations to come in supporting our respected population in every way we can, and I am proud to work alongside you. 

        As always, thank you for the work you do each day to further these efforts and for your commitment to those we serve. 

        ~Mike ​

        Hello DHS,

        Last Friday, Governor Kate Brown delivered her first State of the State address. I wanted to be sure you all had an opportunity to read her remarks about Oregon today, and her vision for the future of this beautiful state. I was especially interested in the Governor’s remarks concerning the individuals and the families we serve here at DHS – opportunities for working families, for children to be successful in school, help for Oregon’s rural communities, and promoting equity.

        I encourage you take a few minutes to read the speech to get to know our new Governor a little better and learn more about the things she cares about! 

        Have a great week.

        ~ Erinn



        Hello DHS,

        It is National Child Abuse Prevention Month, and one of our goals is to see that every Oregon child has the chance to grow up in a safe and loving family, with support for success in school. Today, I want to share a message from DHS Child Welfare Director Lois Ann Day about the important work going on to help Oregon achieve this outcome for children and their families. Have a great week!

        National Child Abuse Prevention Month: Meaningful Connections with Children and Families

        April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. This month and throughout the year, DHS Child Welfare encourages all individuals and organizations to play a role in making Oregon a better place for children and families. Everyone’s participation is critical in keeping children safe. Focusing on ways to build and promote the protective factors in every interaction with our children and families is the best thing our community can do to prevent child maltreatment and promote optimal child development. Protective factors include concrete supports for parents, nurturing, attachment and knowledge of parenting and of child and youth development. By ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills, and resources they need to care for their children, we can help promote children’s social and emotional well-being and prevent child abuse within families and communities.

        As a state, Oregon is focused on making our system responsive to children’s safety, wellbeing and permanency needs. We are in the process of implementing a Differential Response model that is transforming Child Welfare’s engagement with families and in many cases keeping children safely at home with the right support and supervision.

        In 2007, the legislature passed Karly’s law, in memory of three year-old Karly Sheehan, which requires a specialized child abuse medical assessment within 48 hours when suspicious injuries are identified on a child. It establishes a process of coordinated efforts between law enforcement, child welfare and the medical community to keep children safe. Since the passage of Karly’s law the number of children identified with suspicious injuries has increased, and we are better at recognizing signs of potential abuse. The law is a great tool we use in protecting Oregon’s children. 

        In 2013, the Oregon legislature, with support of the Governor, invested $23.7 million in total funds for statewide implementation of Strengthening, Preserving and Reunifying Families program. This program provides contract dollars for a broad array of services statewide that can help parents address the issues that are preventing them from keeping their children safe at home and out of foster care.  

        There are other efforts we are making as a system: Permanency Roundtables, increased services for homeless and runaway youth, expansion of Wraparound services for children, increased wellness initiatives for children in foster care, child specific focused recruitment for foster and adoptive resources, and more. The child welfare system is focused on those factors that support families and children, preventing abuse from occurring: increased access to health care, Pay for Prevention, increasing community engagement around the needs of children and families under stress, all day kindergarten, and more.

        When we make meaningful connections with the children, youth and families in our communities, we can help parents build the knowledge and skills and access the resources necessary to raise safe children whose full potential can be realized. Everyone can play a role in preventing child abuse and neglect and promoting child and family well-being. ​


        Hello DHS,

        Oregon’s 2015 Legislative session began last week, and I wanted to frame the upcoming work we will be doing and to answer questions about the process. As you know, the Legislature has a great many issues to address this session, both in the budget process and also in terms of proposed legislation dealing with everything from school funding to transportation to recreational marijuana and more.

        As part of the legislative budget process, one of our first jobs is to present detailed information about the agency, our programs, goals, budget and outcomes we want to see for clients and their families as part of the Ways and Means process. These presentations are the first step in getting to the final Legislatively Approved Budget this year, and DHS begins the presentations to the Ways and Means Subcommittee on Human Services today.

        In each presentation, we will focus on demonstrating results with the dollars invested in our services in 2013-15, and also on those program areas and initiatives where we can have the greatest positive impact on our clients, their families and our communities. Some of these programs and initiatives are new, but many more reflect work we’ve already started. Our presentations will answer questions about the progress we’ve made, as well as the work left to do in order to finish what we’ve started!

        It’s important to me that you know what is happening, and we will keep you informed and updated. You’ll be able to get a copy of each day’s presentation on the DHS website.

        Today’s DHS Overview is already posted, and we’ll add more PowerPoints, reports and documents as our Ways and Means process continues (see the schedule below). You can always address questions to your supervisors, or anyone in leadership here at the Department, and we will do our best to get answers for you.

        Finally, legislative sessions always produce lots of facts, proposals, opposing positions and rumors. Just like last session, I ask that everyone do their best to remain calm, avoid speculation or "what if" scenarios and remember that nothing is final until it is final – and that means approved by both the House and Senate and signed by the Governor.

        I want to close by recognizing the hard work being done every day throughout the agency. Your efforts are evident in all the materials we are using to tell our story!

        Thank you and have a great week.


        DHS Ways & Means Subcommittee on Human Services Presentation Schedule:

        • February 9: DHS Overview
        • February 10: Aging & People with Disabilities Overview
        • February 11: Aging & People with Disabilities legislative reports
        • February 12: Long-Term Care Ombudsman

        • February 16: Joint Presentation Aging & People with Disabilities and Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Services
        • February 17: Intellectual/Developmental Disabilities Services Overview
        • February 18: Vocational Rehabilitation Overview
        • February 19: Public Testimony re: APD, ODDS and VR Programs and Services

        • February 24: Oregon Commission for the Blind
        • February 25: Self Sufficiency Program Overview
        • February 26: Child Welfare Overview

        • March 2: Program Design Services, Key Performance Measures
        • March 3: Public Testimony re: Self Sufficiency, Child Welfare and Program Design Services
        • March 4: DHS Agency Wrap-Up

        • April 8-9: DHS/OHA Central and Shared Services

        Hello DHS,

        On Monday, we mark the birthday of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a time to remember the transformational work he did to advance the cause of social justice, raise awareness of individual and institutional racism, advance the idea that governments should work for all citizens, and inspire political and civic action.

        In his Inaugural Address this week, Governor Kitzhaber said:

        “Disparity is the enemy of community; it separates us; it divides us; it reflects inequality; a lack of fairness; and it means someone is being left behind; that someone is being excluded from the community. And for those who are excluded there is no common purpose.  And if there is no common purpose there is no community.  And if there is no community, there is no way we can successfully meet the challenges we face as a state and as a society.”

        As we look around our nation (and the rest of the world!) today, it is clear that there is so much more work to be done. Humankind still struggles with disparities of race, religion, gender, sexual identity, wealth and power. However, Dr. King’s legacy is very real here at the Department of Human Services – in our Core Values and in our mission to improve the lives of the Oregonians we serve. We all work toward a common goal, and we strive to work in a way that demonstrates our Core Values in action, especially the values of Respect and Service Equity.

        For some of you, the holiday will be a day of service, part of the national initiative to make the holiday a “day on, not a day off” in order to promote the vision of Dr. King (see below). For others, the holiday is a time to reflect on his life and powerful words.

        As you enjoy a long holiday weekend, please take the opportunity to consider the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. -- and, as you do so, I encourage you to make a personal recommitment to follow his example -- not just in words, but in action.


        For those of you in the Salem area --  the Office of Equity and Multicultural Services (OEMS), in partnership with the Diversity and Equity Advisory Committee (DEAC), is hosting an event at the Human Services Building in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on January 21, 2015 during the lunch hour. We encourage you to attend! The event features poetry and music celebrating the life and teachings of Dr. King, and the opportunity to share messages. Please see the event poster for details​. In addition to the event, OEMS and DEAC are also sponsoring the Act of Service Challenge during which staff are encouraged to consider volunteer their time to conduct an act of service in their community. Local DEAC members are assisting in the tracking and the total number of hours statewide will be shared in a future message from DEAC.​