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DHS Offers New Child Welfare Approach

DHSKLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — Child Welfare is changing in Oregon, offering more options for families who need help.

The new approach called Differential Response is available to families in Klamath, Lane, and Lake counties.

This new approach aims at giving families struggling with abuse or neglect more flexibility when it comes to Department of Health and Human Services regulations.

In 2012 the state of Oregon received more than 69,000 reports of child abuse or neglect, but a new approach is paving the way, helping families and aiming to reduce the number of children in foster care.

The Differential Response System connects families having trouble with community resources, instead of filing a report with the Child Welfare Office.  It works in conjunction with the traditional system.  When a report is filed and investigated, DHS officials will now be able to decide which track the family will be placed on.

“In those cases where there is a child who has been abused, physically abused, sexually abused or at risk of serious physical harm, those cases will stay the traditional track,” said Jeremy Player, DHS Child Welfare Director.

However, in cases where parents just don’t have the resources to take care of their children due to poverty, homelessness, lack of employment or resources, families are placed in the Differential Response System, which aims at reducing the number of children in foster care.

In Klamath County roughly 250 kids are in foster care at any given time.  Since the new program went into place on May 29, case workers filed 32 new child neglect cases, 19 handled through Differential Response, and 13 through Traditional Response.

“Children who are raised safely at home have better outcomes than children who enter the foster care system, and can’t then return home or to another permanent resource,” said Lois Day, Child Welfare Director.

Differential Response is only operating in three Oregon counties now, but DHS officials said they hope to implement it in other counties across the state in the future.

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