Jan. 22, 2020

Oregon’s Foster Care in Overhaul

Oregon’s Foster Care

Consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal granted 3.5 million to overhaul Oregon’s foster care system. Thanks to Governor Kate Brown, a movement began in April 2019 to take action against the problems stemming from the Department of Human Services and the agencies that manage the state’s foster care system.

Areas of Improvement for Oregon’s Foster Care System

State auditors found a shortage of agency workers and qualified foster homes for children. Due to this, many children in foster care found themselves in out-of-state care facilities with little oversight from Oregon state. Because of this practice, several lawsuits went to the federal court over alleged violence and abuse.

To help reform this oversight Gov. Brown hired consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal and formed a board to oversee the consulting firm’s work. The firm is experienced in turning around and helping organizations restructure. The idea is to reform the foster care system by limiting the deficit of workers, foster homes, out-of-state placements, and improving communication and documentation practices.

Starting Actions

So, initial improvements include a hiring surge of over 300 conditional workers and the return of 60 children in out-of-state placements. The Alvarez and Marsal consulting firm is working on streamlining the process. This includes reforming the process to license foster families and improving the statewide hotline for reporting abuse.

There is a strong focus on reforming internal operations, creating recommendations to help the foster system indicate clear roles and responsibilities amongst workers. This, in turn, will improve processes and establish more measurable outcomes. Additionally, there is a push to increase collaboration with the state’s health agency.

Additional Improvements for Oregon’s Foster Care System

As a result, DHS is committed to creating a new training unit to increase effective training opportunities across departments.

Consulting U.S. quotes Rebecca Jones Gaston, Oregon’s new head of Child Welfare,

I think what (Alvarez & Marsal) did was bring that lens around business processes and things like that and were able to really quickly home in on some places where maybe existing processes were slowing down our ability to be responsive, or impacting our ability to kind of turn a ship in a nimble way.

In Conclusion

In conclusion, we commend Gov. Brown and her efforts to improve Oregon’s foster care system. There is always an immediate need to foster families and reform is welcome. However, we understand that this type of change takes time.

For those looking to help without becoming a foster parent. Please check out our team building for good programs.

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