Oregon Department of Human Services
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News Releases
Statement from DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht on Governor Kate Brown's Executive Order - 04/18/19

The foundation of all the work done at the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) is safety for the children and adults we serve across our five major programs. Our vision for children who cannot live with their families safely is to enter a foster care system where they are protected; get the services and supports they need to heal in a stable, caring environment in their communities, and grow to thrive in adulthood.

 

Oregon’s child safety system, particularly its Child Welfare program within DHS, has been extremely strained for several decades. During the past two years, there have been multiple internal and independent assessments and audits of the agency and its Child Welfare program that all point to the same list of solutions. We have a clear picture of what must be done, we have defined the strategies to correct the problems, we have been building the foundation for the corrective work and we are making progress.

 

Transforming a statewide child safety system into a robust child well-being system will take time. It requires meeting the demands of today while building the system for the future. We appreciate Governor Kate Brown continuing to prioritize the safety of our children and families. We welcome the additional support her Executive Order provides to increase our capacity and capabilities to improve Oregon’s Child Welfare system today and for the future. Keeping Oregon’s foster children safe and helping our families heal and thrive takes all of us working together. We look forward to working productively and cooperatively with the Governor’s designees.

We have built the foundation for the corrective work and we are making progress by:

  • Putting the structure and systems in place to right-size the foster care system by safely reducing the number of children entering the system through community-based supports for at-risk families and reducing disproportionality.
     
  • Stabilizing the Child Welfare workforce by reducing turnover and bringing caseloads closer to the national average so caseworkers have more time to work face-to-face with families, and improving staff training and supports.

 

  • Ensuring the safety and wellbeing of children through a series of improvements ranging from consistent screening of child abuse reports to in-home nursing visits.
     
     
  • Expanding community-based placement options so every foster child is safe and in the care settings that meets their unique needs in Oregon, whether it be family foster care or a therapeutic setting.
     
  • Basing our decisions in research and data, coupled with the professional experience of our staff, to ensure we get to the root causes of problems and take actions that are child-centered and effective.

 

  • Expanding our allies because the Child Welfare program cannot address the factors that bring families to our attention or resolve the capacity crisis alone.

The support from the Governor will provide the necessary resources to help the Department continue and accelerate progress to ensure the Child Welfare program in Oregon achieves the goals we all share.

Statement from Oregon Department of Human Services Director Fariborz Pakseresht on Wyatt B., et al. vs. DHS Lawsuit - 04/16/19

(SALEM, Ore.) – Today the Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) was named a defendant in a lawsuit from Disability Rights Oregon and A Better Childhood. The lawsuit calls for an increase in the foster care system capacity to ensure every child has an appropriate placement and to ensure foster children - particularly those with intellectual or developmental disabilities or identifying as LGBTQ - receive the services and supports that meet their needs.  

DHS shares the same vision of a foster care system where all children are safe, have the customized supports they need to heal, and are cared for in stable, loving families where they thrive.  We take the care of our foster children seriously and work with urgency and diligence to achieve this goal.  Over the past 18 months we’ve been building the foundation needed to balance staff workload, so they can spend more time with children and families and add supports to serve children and families holistically in their communities.

Many efforts are underway to further the same goals of the lawsuit, including:

  • A data collection project to identify the types and numbers of placements we lack to meet the needs of our foster children, so we can target our capacity-building efforts where they are needed the most.
  • Statewide campaigns to recruit therapeutic and general foster families, and community volunteers to support them.
  • Finalization of a long-term, statewide strategic plan to retain and recruit foster families developed by a workgroup of DHS staff and community partners.
  • Development of new procedures for nurses and caseworkers for discussing the emotional and health supports available to foster children identifying as LGBTQ.
  • An action plan in motion to re-assess foster children being served outside Oregon, including those with intellectual or developmental disabilities. The assessments are to ensure children are getting the services and supports they are eligible for and confirm they are in the appropriate level of care, returning to Oregon those who can be served safely here.
  • Working closely with the nine federally recognized Oregon Tribes to reduce and eliminate overrepresentation of Indian children in foster care and to provide them with culturally appropriate services with the help of the Tribes.
  • Establishment of an organizational culture with safety and well-being at its foundation.

We will continue to work purposefully with our system partners in addressing the gaps in the foster care system to create a better future for Oregon’s children.

DHS supports national child abuse prevention month in April - 04/12/19

(SALEM, ORE.) – The Oregon Department of Human Services encourages all Oregonians to support building strong and thriving families during National Child Abuse Prevention Month in April 2019.

This month promotes developing the social and emotional well-being of children and recognizes the importance of families and communities working together to prevent child abuse and neglect. The Department participates in events, promotes increased awareness, and works to support to families all over Oregon.

“We know that children who enjoy strong and caring relationships with their parents, siblings, caregivers, educators and other community members will grow up in loving and supportive families,” said Oregon Child Welfare Director Marilyn Jones. “Let’s all work together to prevent child abuse.”

Last week, DHS staff joined with partners from Prevent Child Abuse Oregon to plant a blue pinwheel garden in front of the Human Services Building in Salem to celebrate Child Abuse Prevention Month. The blue pinwheel reminds us that every child deserves a great childhood.

Department officials, community leaders and volunteers are participating today (April 12, 2019) in the 2nd Annual Safe Families Oregon Collaborative Conference in Salem.

Child Welfare caseworkers will be among those attending the Child Abuse & Family Violence Summit, hosted by the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office Child Abuse Team and the Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, from April 16-19 in Portland. Information is available at this Web site. National Child Abuse Prevention Month information can be found here.

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Oregon Department of Human Services Acts to Ensure Safety for Out-of-State Foster Children and Youth - 04/11/19

(SALEM, OR) – The Oregon Department of Human Services today (April 11, 2019) announced several steps to ensure the safety of children and youth in out-of-state facilities and begin the process of bringing them back to Oregon.

The actions include halting any Oregon youth from being placed at care facilities operated by Acadia, a for-profit provider that operates a Montana facility where concerns were recently raised about care for Oregon children, including injecting children with Benadryl.

Actions specific to Acadia facilities include:

•         Department staff traveled today to review Oregon youth and children placements at the Acadia facility in Butte, Montana.

•         The Department sent a cease-and-desist letter April 4 to Acadia telling the facility to halt any injections of medicine, which are not permitted at similar foster youth facilities in Oregon. The facility immediately complied.

•         Oregon on April 3 stopped any Oregon youth from being placed at any Acadia facilities nationwide.

In addition, DHS is taking a variety of steps to ensure the safety of the more than 80 Oregon youth are currently placed in out-of-state facilities. Actions include:

 •        The Department is doing a comprehensive review of independent third-party contractors, such as mental health professionals, who Oregon hires to monitor foster youth and children in other states. Contractors are required to visit children every 30 days, similar to how Oregon caseworkers check on youth in state.

•         The Department’s Office of Developmental Disabilities is working on finding appropriate placements in Oregon for seven youth with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities who are currently placed out of state.

•         The Department launched a Website about out-of-state placements that will be updated regularly and include the names of facilities, locations, accreditation agencies, number of children, ages, and daily payment rates.

  • The Department on Thursday launched a 60-day planning process to review all out-of-state placements, convene Oregon care providers to find ways to build more specialized care in the state, and focus on the goal of returning all out-of-state foster youth.

“We are working hard every day to make sure they are safe, make sure Oregon staff or third-party contractors check on them, and review how they are being treated,” Jones said

Oregon Department of Human Services Announces Plan to Serve Youth in Oregon - 04/10/19

(SALEM, OR) – The Oregon Department of Human Services today (April 10, 2019) announced development of a plan to return Oregon foster youth who are being served in other states.

“We want youth in Oregon and we will need help building an appropriate continuum of care to keep them here and help them thrive,” said Marilyn Jones, Director of Child Welfare. “The plan will ensure children and youth have thoughtful transitions and will be placed in appropriate settings in Oregon to meet their specific needs.”

A plan will be available in the next 60 days, as the Department identifies the necessary steps to get youth back to Oregon. The Department is asking all its partners – health care providers, care facility operators, county Coordinated Care Organizations, community groups, mental health services, drug and alcohol treatment partners – to help create a shared and comprehensive vision for the safe and appropriate end to placements in other states.

Oregon has to create more places where highly vulnerable foster youth can receive the best available care, mental health counseling, psychiatric supports and other services they currently receive out of state. The Department’s Office of Reporting, Research, Analytics and Implementation is conducting research to determine capacity, placement and service matching for all foster children and youth in Oregon.

Early research results indicates 85 percent of foster youth can be placed in foster homes. By identifying the needs of other children and youth, the Department can estimate the specific number of settings needed including residential or mental health services, in-home plans with family treatment services and safety plans, and foster and group homes for youth with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

The Department has partnered with the Oregon Health Authority and has secured a contract with Comagine to conduct clinical assessments on youth placed in programs outside of Oregon. Within the next 60 days, the Department will coordinate with out of state providers and agencies in Oregon and determine the clinical need and level of care required for each youth currently out of state. Providers in Oregon will convene during that period to identify facilities needed to return the children and youth to their home state.

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Medicaid long-term care quality council meets April 10 - 04/05/19

(Salem, Ore.) – The Medicaid Long Term Care Quality and Reimbursement Advisory Council meets from 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, April 10, at the Barbara Roberts Human Services Building, Room 160, 500 Summer St. N.E., Salem. The meeting is open to the public.

Agenda items include: public comment, Governor’s Recommended Budget document, bills of possible interest (mid-session) and council business.

For those who can’t attend in person, there is a toll-free phone number that can also be accessed through Skype for Business: (503) 934-1400, participant code 74490784.  

The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. For questions about accessibility or to request an accommodation, please contact Max Brown at max.brown@state.or.us. Requests should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting.

For questions about this meeting, please contact: Max Brown, 503-945-6993 or max.brown@state.or.us.

About the Medicaid Long Term Care Quality & Reimbursement Advisory Council

The Medicaid Long Term Care Quality and Reimbursement Advisory Council (MLTCQRAC) was established by the 1995 Legislative Assembly to advise the Department of Human Services Aging and People with Disabilities program on changes or modifications to the Medicaid reimbursement system for long-term care and community based care services.

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Governor's Commission on Senior Services meets April 11 - 04/03/19

(Salem, Ore.) - The Governor’s Commission on Senior Services (GCSS) will meet from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Thursday, April 11, 2019, at 4074 Winema Place N.E., Room 227/228, Salem, Oregon, 97305.

The meeting is open to the public. Agenda items include regular and new commission business including discussion of guidance regarding legislative advocacy, insights from the Annual Gerontology conference, discussion of upcoming events and meeting planning, ADRC business case and website demonstration, an update from the Aging and People with Disabilities Program, discussion of current legislation, and continued discussion of the Adult Foster Home program. Those who can’t attend in person may call into the meeting using this conference line and access code: 1-888-808-6929, 4517555.

The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. For questions about accessibility or to request an accommodation, please contact Lori Watt at Lori.C.Watt@state.or.us. Requests should be made at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting. For questions about the meeting, please contact: Deb McCuin, program analyst at Debbie.Mccuin@state.or.us.

About the Governor’s Commission on Senior Services

The Governor’s Commission on Senior Services is dedicated to enhancing and protecting the quality of life for all older Oregonians. Through cooperation with other organizations, and advocacy, the commission works to ensure that seniors have access to services that provide, choice, independence, and dignity.

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Quality Measurement Council meets April 25 - 04/03/19

(Wilsonville, Ore.) – The Quality Measurement Council will meet from 9 a.m. to noon on Thursday, April 25, 2019, in Training Rooms 1 and 2 at the Oregon Child Development Coalition, 9140 S.W. Pioneer Court, Wilsonville, Oregon, 97070.

The Quality Measurement Council was formed with the passage of House Bill 3359 in 2017. The council meeting is open to the public.

Agenda items include will include a discussion on collecting and reporting metrics.

Sign language interpreters and live captioning will be provided. Those who are unable to attend in person, may join by calling toll-free phone number, 1-888-363-4735, and using Conference ID #3439085. 

The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. For questions about accessibility or to request an accommodation, please contact Rebecca Mapes at 1-541-735-0058 or Rebecca.Mapes@state.or.us. Requests should be made at least 48 hours before the meeting.

For questions about this meeting, please contact: Rebecca Mapes at 1-541-735-0058 or Rebecca.Mapes@state.or.us

About the Quality Measurement Council

The council was established to create and maintain a system through which community-based, long-term care facilities report reliable and meaningful data that will make possible a system for measuring a facility’s performance compared with other long-term care providers in the state.

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Oregon Disabilities Commission Executive Committee meets April 16 - 04/03/19

(Salem, Ore.) - The Oregon Disabilities Commission (ODC) Executive Committee will meet from 1:30 to 3 p.m. on Tuesday, April 16, 2019, at the Barbara Roberts Human Services Building, 500 Summer St NE, Room 166, Salem, Oregon, 97301.

The meeting is open to the public.

The agenda includes regular ODC Executive Committee business, review and approval of the meeting agenda and prior meeting minutes, public comment, announcements, ODC executive business topics, other topics and next meeting agenda ideas.

Those who can’t attend in person may call into the meeting using this conference line and access code: 503-934-1400, 9633438.

The meeting location is accessible to people with disabilities. For questions about accessibility or to request an accommodation, please contact Lori Watt at Lori.C.Watt@state.or.us  Requests should be made at least 48 hours in advance of the meeting.

For questions about the meeting, please contact: Jeff Puterbaugh, policy analyst at Jeffrey.L.Puterbaugh@state.or.us.

 About the Oregon Disabilities Commission:

The Oregon Disabilities Commission is charged by state statute to advise the Department of Human Services, the Governor, the Legislative Assembly and appropriate state agency administrators on issues related to achieving the full economic, social, legal and political equity of individuals with disabilities. ODC also acts as a coordinating link between and among public and private organizations services individuals with disabilities.

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Oregon Department of Human Services Hosts Quarterly Stakeholder Meeting on April 16, 2019 - 04/03/19

The Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS) will host its quarterly stakeholder meeting on April 16, 2019 in Salem. Join us in person, by phone or online.

 

DHS Director Fariborz Pakseresht, along with the agency’s Executive Leadership Team, will present brief updates followed by a question-and-answer period. Updates will be provided on each of the agency’s divisions: Aging and People with Disabilities, Child Welfare, the Office of Developmental Disabilities, Self-Sufficiency Programs, Vocational Rehabilitation, and Central and Shared Services.

 

Date:          Tues., April 16, 2019

Time:         1:30 to 3 p.m.

Participate:

 

Participate in the conversation on Twitter by using #ORDHSforum.

 

Learn more about the services DHS offers: www.oregon.gov/dhs