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ODHS Joins National Partnership to Reduce and Prevent Child Maltreatment and Fatalities - 11/24/21

Child welfare leaders are shifting the field to be more proactive, aiming to prevent tragedies

(Salem, Ore.) – Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) this week announced their involvement in a national effort to strengthen families, identify and protect children at risk, and save the lives of children.   

In early 2020, the ODHS Child Welfare Division began receiving technical assistance from the University of Kentucky Center for Innovation in Population Health to apply safety science to ODHS Child Welfare child fatality reviews (often called “critical incidents”). Safety science provides a framework for Child Welfare to better understand the complexities of the work and supports professionals to process, share, and learn from child fatalities to prevent additional tragedies.  

This week, in collaboration with 26 other state, county and tribal child and family serving agencies the National Partnership for Child Safety (NPCS) was announced. The partnership is supported by Casey Family Programs. Aligned with the ODHS Child Welfare Vision for Transformation, the NPCS helps Oregon move towards a more preventative child and family well-being system. NPCS members will share key information and obtain peer-to-peer support with the goal of improving child safety and preventing child maltreatment and fatalities. 


“While a child fatality is tragic and rare, the factors that led to the death may not be unique. With a safety science approach, we can create a culture of learning that helps us better understand how and why decisions are made and offer recommendations. This will build a stronger system focused on supporting families,” says Child Welfare Director Rebecca Jones Gaston. 

The safety science approach connects Child Welfare agencies with community partners and hopes to build support for families before crises occur. It also includes supporting staff. In Oregon, some examples of this are reflected in recent safe sleep education tools, providing one-on-one and group sessions for staff who have experienced a traumatic incident and agency-wide suicide prevention training.  

To request an interview with a spokesperson for the National Partnership for Child Safety, please contact Jennifer Devlin at 703-966-3241 or devlin7@gmail.com">jenniferdevlin7@gmail.com

About the ODHS Child Welfare Division

The Oregon Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Division is committed to transforming itself to better support the individual needs of families and to best serve Oregon’s children and young people. Report child abuse to the Oregon Child Abuse Hotline by calling 1-855-503-SAFE (7233). This toll-free number allows you to report abuse of any child or adult to the Oregon Department of Human Services, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. 

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CMS seeks public input on plan to expand Oregon Project Independence, create Family Caregiver Assistance Program - 11/23/21

SALEM, Ore.  ̶  The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) is seeking public comment on an Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) application to apply for Medicaid funding to expand Oregon Project Independence and create a Family Caregiver Assistance Program. Both programs serve older adults and people with disabilities.

The application, which is being made through the Oregon Health Authority to CMS, is an 1115 demonstration waiver. The programs to be expanded and created are offered by the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities.

The federal comment period on the application extends through Dec. 16, 2021. To learn more about how to comment visit the CMS web page on the comment period.

Oregon has a track record of innovating programs to serve older adults and adults with disabilities, but gaps remain in Oregon’s system, especially for individuals with limited income. These Oregonians are at risk of requiring Medicaid when they need long-term care services and supports.

Nearly 800,000 Oregonians are age 65 and older. By 2030, this population is projected to increase by 25 percent. For those age 85 and older, and most at risk of needing Medicaid long-term care services and supports, the population is estimated to increase by 33 percent in the next 10 years, according to the Oregon Office of Economic Analysis.

The 1115 demonstration waiver would provide the following service expansions with Medicaid funding beginning in July 2022 for a five-year period:

• Oregon Project Independence would expand to serve 4,500 Oregonians, up from about 2,350 currently served. The federal matching funds will also permit local programs to serve additional younger adults with disabilities, whose participation has been limited to only one-third of Oregon counties.

Oregon Project Independence services include case management, in-home support and personal care services, adult day services, home delivered meals, assisted transportation, assistive technology, and other supports.

About $5 million in general funds that have been allocated by the Oregon Legislature for this program would not be matched. This ensures that the ODHS Office of Aging and People with Disabilities can continue to serve Oregonians who would not be eligible for the Medicaid-funded program introduced with the 1115 demonstration waiver.

• A Family Caregiver Assistance Program would be created to support qualifying Oregonians, whose family members provide them with care in their own homes, through a combination of state and federal funds. Oregonians who receive this assistance would be eligible to receive services and supports totaling no more than $500 per month, with an annual increase for inflation.

Oregonians served by this program would be able to choose from a list of services including caregiver respite, adult day services, transportation, assistive technology, caregiver training and education, and other services that the consumer finds compatible with the caregiving relationship they have with their caregiver.

This program would not replace the Older Americans Act funded Family Caregiver services. Instead, it would build on that program to serve additional individuals.

Additional information about the application may be found on the ODHS 1115 Medicaid Demonstration Waiver webpage. Included on the page are fact sheets that provide more information on the hypothesis being tested, the methodology, and the projected cost savings.
 

Oregon Department of Human Services to recover mistakenly issued Pandemic-EBT benefits - 11/19/21

Need to know: 

  • The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) mistakenly issued $7.8 million of Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) food benefits to approximately 5,800 students in Oregon. 
  • ODHS is working to recover any unused food benefits that were mistakenly issued.
  • No one that used these mistakenly issued food benefits will be penalized. 
  • Oregon provided approximately $563 million in food benefits to nearly 429,000 Oregon students and children between July and October.

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) mistakenly issued $7.8 million of Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) food benefits to approximately 5,800 students in Oregon. 

ODHS is working to recover any unused food benefits that were mistakenly issued. The agency is working in partnership with the school districts and the Oregon Department of Education to notify families. Notices will be mailed to impacted households as quickly as possible. 

ODHS has already recovered $1.6 million of the mistakenly issued food benefits. 

No one who used these mistakenly issued food benefits will be penalized. 

“We know that this can be confusing for families right now,” said Dan Haun, director of the ODHS Self-Sufficiency Programs. “Families who were mistakenly issued these food benefits were told that they were eligible for the program and entitled to use the benefits to buy food for the students and children in their households. We apologize for any confusion this has caused and we take responsibility for this mistake. We want to assure anyone who has already used these mistakenly issued food benefits that they will not be penalized in any way.” 

The mistakenly issued benefits are a result of an error that designated certain schools in Oregon as Community Eligibility Provision (CEP) schools in an internal ODHS database. All students who attended these schools, even those who were not eligible for P-EBT, were issued P-EBT cards and food benefits. The error that led to the incorrect CEP designations has been fixed.

The database errors were discovered after ODHS became aware of at least one school mistakenly identified as a Community Eligibility Provision school. This discovery prompted a full review of the data to identify if additional schools were impacted. At least 26 schools were impacted by the error.

Schools affected by this issue include: 

Arthur Academy Portland

Crane Union High

Kairos - New Beginnings - West

Kairos PDX

Kelly Creek Elementary

Kelso Elementary

Kings Valley Charter School

Lincoln Elementary Corvallis (Note: While Lincoln Elementary Corvallis was impacted by the database error, it was corrected the same day and no over-issuance of benefits occurred at this location.)

Lincoln High (Note: Mistakenly issued P-EBT benefits at this location were previously reported on the ODHS P-EBT website. $1.6 of the $1.8 million in benefits issued to Lincoln High students in error were recovered on Nov. 5, 2021.)

Meadow Park Middle

Oak Hills Elementary

Oakdale Heights Elementary

Oakland Elementary

Oakland High

Oaklea Middle

Obsidian Middle

Ocean Crest Elementary

Ogden Middle

Oregon Service Learning Academy

Oregon Trail Elementary

Oregon Trail Primary Academy

Riddle Elementary

Ridgeview Elementary

Step Up at Edwin Brown Education Center (Note: While this Step Up location was impacted by the database error, there were no students reported as enrolled at the time of the error and no over-issuance of benefits occurred at this location.)

Weston-McEwen High

Yamhill Carlton Intermediate

About Pandemic EBT

P-EBT provides food benefits to families whose children did not have access to the free or reduced-priced meals usually provided at school or childcare centers because of COVID-19 closures. 

Oregon provided approximately $563 million in food benefits to nearly 429,000 Oregon students and children between July and October.

Community Eligibility Provision schools offer free meals to all students regardless of their income. All students at Community Eligibility Provision schools are eligible for P-EBT.  

Oregon was approved to provide retroactive food benefits to eligible students for the 2020-21 school year and the summer of 2021. Benefits were issued to students and children July through October. 

P-EBT benefits can be used to purchase food anywhere that EBT is accepted. 

P-EBT does not replace any child nutrition program already offered, and families are encouraged to continue participating in grab-n-go-meals or emergency food programs at their local schools and community locations. 

P-EBT is separate from SNAP benefits including emergency allotments that are also being issued due to the impact of COVID-19. P-EBT benefits are not considered in a public charge test.

For additional information about P-EBT visit pebt.oregon.gov

Resources to help meet basic needs

About SNAP

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

Attached Media Files: Audio of Dan Haun Statement
Photo of Rebecca Jones Gaston
Photo of Rebecca Jones Gaston
Oregon Child Welfare Director nominated to lead federal Administration on Children, Youth and Families (Photo) - 11/17/21

Note: A photo of Director Rebecca Jones Gaston is attached to this release. No other changes have been made. 

Salem, OR – Rebecca Jones Gaston, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Child Welfare Division, has been nominated by the Biden-Harris Administration to serve as Commissioner of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families (ACYF).

The ACYF is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and oversees federal programs that support social services that promote the positive growth and development of children, youth and their families; protective services and shelter for children and youth in at-risk situations; and adoption for children with special needs.

“I’d like to thank Rebecca for the progress we have made during her tenure in stabilizing Oregon’s child welfare system and establishing a vision for transforming the system to better serve children and families,” said Governor Kate Brown. “Rebecca’s federal nomination is a testament to the good work happening in Oregon. I congratulate Rebecca on her nomination and am pleased that children and families across the country now will benefit from her leadership.”

Jones Gaston joined the Oregon Department of Human Services as Child Welfare Director in 2019, following Governor Brown’s executive order aimed at improving the child welfare system. Since that time, Jones Gaston had led the division in achieving the following:

  • Stabilized the Child Welfare Division, including decreasing the number of children in foster care by 22 percent since November 2019; eliminating the use of out-of-state residential treatment facilities; and adjusting operations and policy to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining services for children and families.
  • Developed and begun implementation of the Child Welfare Division Vision for Transformation, which brings a racial equity and anti-racism lens to every aspect of the work of the division and emphasizes it will work to prevent maltreatment and the need for foster care, support families, and keep children in their homes whenever possible. The Vision has a strong focus on bringing to the table families with lived experience and Oregon Tribal Nations.
  • Completed and received federal approval for Oregon’s Family First Prevention Services plan. The prevention plan is the first step toward Oregon's goal of transforming the child welfare system to one that is prevention-oriented by providing supports and services to family before foster care is necessary.

“Rebecca has provided steady leadership to help us navigate through challenging times, and she developed a vision and solid foundation for the future,” said ODHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht. “As a result, Oregon is in a good position to continue the momentum and improve well-being for all children and families served by our child welfare system.”

Before joining ODHS, Jones Gaston served as executive director of the Social Services Administration at the Maryland Department of Human Services. Jones Gaston has worked in the field of human services and child welfare for more than 24 years as a social worker, advocate, therapist, consultant, and administrator. She previously was a director with Casey Family Programs, providing technical assistance to child welfare agencies throughout the United States. From 2003 to 2007, she served as the National Campaign Director for AdoptUsKids, a major campaign aimed at increasing the numbers of foster and adoptive families developed in collaboration with the National Ad Council and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Children’s Bureau.

“I am honored to have served as leader of the Child Welfare Division for the past two years and am grateful to our staff and partners for working together improve outcomes for children and families,” Jones Gaston said. “Oregon will always hold a special place in my heart, and I look forward to bringing Oregon’s experience in child welfare into the national conversation.” 

Jones Gaston’s appointment is subject to confirmation by the U.S. Senate. ODHS will announce a leadership transition plan in the coming weeks, pending Senate action.

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Attached Media Files: Photo of Rebecca Jones Gaston
Contact the Oregon Department of Human Services to resolve Pandemic-EBT issues by November 30 - 11/12/21

Need to know: 

  • Families who are experiencing issues with their children’s Pandemic-EBT benefits need to contact the Oregon Department of Human Services by Nov. 30, 2021 for support.
  • Oregon provided approximately $563 million in food benefits to nearly 429,000 Oregon students and children between July and October.
  • P-EBT food benefits can be used to purchase food anywhere that EBT is accepted and will expire 12 months after they are issued.

(Salem) – The Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) is encouraging families who are experiencing issues with their children’s Pandemic-EBT (P-EBT) benefits to contact ODHS for support no later than Nov. 30, 2021.

Families who need support with their children’s P-EBT card should contact ODHS by email at Tschoolmeals@dhsoha.state.or.us">EBTschoolmeals@dhsoha.state.or.us.

Some issues families should contact ODHS for support include: 

  • Did not receive a P-EBT card when you were expecting one
  • Did not receive the amount of P-EBT food benefits you were expecting
  • Lost or need to replace a P-EBT card

P-EBT provides food benefits to families whose children did not have access to the free or reduced-priced meals usually provided at school or childcare centers.

Approximately 429,000 Oregon students and children were issued around $563 million in food benefits for the 2020-2021 school year and summer 2021.

Oregon was approved to provide retroactive food benefits to eligible students for the 2020-21 school year and the summer of 2021. Benefits were issued to students and children through October.

P-EBT benefits can be used to purchase food anywhere that EBT is accepted. 

These food benefits will expire one year after they are issued to EBT cards. This means that food benefits issued on Oct. 1, 2021 can be used until they expire on Oct. 1, 2022. 

P-EBT does not replace any child nutrition program already offered, and families are encouraged to continue participating in grab-n-go-meals or emergency food programs at their local schools and community locations. 

P-EBT is separate from SNAP benefits including emergency allotments that are also being issued due to the impact of COVID-19. P-EBT benefits are not considered in a public charge test.

For additional information about P-EBT visit pebt.oregon.gov

Resources to help meet basic needs

About SNAP

Administered by ODHS, SNAP is a federal program that provides food assistance to approximately 1 million eligible, low-income families and individuals in Oregon, including many older adults and people with disabilities. Oregonians in need can apply for benefits, including SNAP, child care, cash assistance and Medicaid. Learn more at https://govstatus.egov.com/or-dhs-benefits. For local resources in your area, such as food or shelter, please call 2-1-1 or reach out to the state’s Aging and Disability Resource Connection (ADRC) at 1-855-ORE-ADRC or 1-855-673-2372.

A 'Needs Assessment' report offers recommendations for state allocations of housing and service funding for youth experiencing homelessness - 11/01/21

(Salem) – The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) and Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS) today announced the results of a statewide analysis that examined the need and pipeline for housing and services for youth experiencing or at risk of experiencing homelessness. Unique in the study was a comprehensive effort to recruit and engage youth across the state with lived experience of homelessness to inform and design housing and services programs that may receive state funding.

The report offers recommendations to state lawmakers for youth-specific housing interventions, housing and services. The project was born from the 2020 session of the Oregon State Legislature after a proposed bill requested a study to understand better the level of appropriations required to address housing and service gaps statewide for young people. Today, presenters at the Statewide Symposium on Youth Experiencing Homelessness Programing (YEHP) shared the report titled, Oregon Statewide Homeless Youth Needs Assessment.

“We appreciate the work that CSH has done to engage with community partners across the state, as well as with youth and young adults who have experienced, or are currently experiencing, housing instability and homelessness,” said Dan Haun, director of the Oregon Department of Human Services (ODHS), Self-Sufficiency Program. “ODHS will use the results and recommendations from the statewide assessment to inform our ongoing efforts towards supporting youth in our Oregon communities.”

“We applaud ODHS for their leadership and collaboration throughout this project. The project serves as a model for other states on how to engage the voices of youth with lived experience when designing housing and service programs that better utilize public resources to address the reality of youth homelessness,” said Annie Bacci, Director, Mountain West at CSH. “We are excited that this assessment will inform new appropriations from the 2021 legislative session,” Ms. Bacci added.

The needs assessment required a comprehensive system modeling process that 1) outlined the “optimal” housing and services array across five regions to estimate the statewide level of need; 2) completed a statewide financial model outlining the costs of identified housing and services needs from the regional system-modeling; and 3) provided a summary report and recommendations on the findings of the needs assessment.

CSH worked with ODHS to recruit critical stakeholders from state systems in juvenile justice, child welfare, education, healthcare and homeless system partners. They also conducted an intensive effort to recruit and engage youth. CSH then segmented the youth into groups under 18 and 18-24 to address the needs specific to each age group. CSH arranged to compensate the youth for their time and expertise. 

“We led each regional team through a process of mapping out an ideal system for ensuring youth had the lowest barriers to safe and affordable housing and the services they would need to thrive. We are most excited that these youth leaders are still engaged and have begun the process of forming a statewide youth advisory board that will work with leaders to design supportive housing and services,” said Ms. Bacci.

The report is available on the ODHS Runaway and Homeless Youth website or can be viewed by visiting the direct link: https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/Homeless-Youth/Documents/CSH-YH-Needs.pdf

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About CSH

The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) is the national champion for supportive housing, demonstrating its potential to improve the lives of very vulnerable individuals and families by helping communities create more than 385,000 real homes for people who desperately need them. CSH funding, expertise and advocacy have provided $1 billion in direct loans and grants for supportive housing across the country. Building on 30 years of success developing multiple and cross-sector partnerships, CSH engages broader systems to fully invest in solutions that drive equity, help people thrive, and harness data to generate concrete and sustainable results. By aligning affordable housing with services and other sectors, CSH helps communities move away from crisis, optimize their public resources, and ensure a better future for everyone. Visit us at www.csh.org.

About ODHS Runaway and Homeless Youth Program

The Oregon Department of Human Services’ Runaway and Homeless Youth Program is responsible for coordinating statewide planning for delivery of services to youth experiencing homelessness and housing instability. Learn more at https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/Homeless-Youth/Pages/index.aspx