InDHSS: Employee Newsletter


March 2014





Same leaders, new team…

In an effort to create greater efficiencies, decrease the layers of bureaucracy, and to streamline the overall oversight of the agency, OCS Director Lawton has recently restructured top-level leadership.
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Campaign launches to raise awareness of Safe Surrender law

DHSS has created an awareness campaign to spread the word about Alaska's Safe Surrender law. The law allows an infant up to 21 days old to be given up if a person cannot care for it. Infants can be brought to a fire station, police station or left with another trustworthy person.
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Family Support Services: The ‘other’ prevention program

One of the grant services funded and managed through service array, family support services are primary/secondary prevention services for families with a low level of risk. Grounded in the Protective Factors, they’re short-term services to improve family functioning and keep kids safe.
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An inaccurate version of the Foster Care Rates story was included in the March 2014 OCS Pipeline newsletter sent out March 12, 2014. The corrected version is below.

Augmented and specialized foster care rates

Foster care rates for the Office of Children’s Services are designed to assist foster parents with the care and supervision of children who must reside away from their families. Often, when we place a child into foster care, there is little information about the child’s care and supervision needs. Most, if not all, children will start at a basic level foster care rate, which is figured based on the community where the child is placed. However, it is not unusual for child to begin to display behaviors or have identified medical needs after the point of placement. For these children, OCS offers specialized and augmented foster care rates to assist the foster parents with the increased care and supervision needs of the specific child. These specialized and augmented foster care rates should be utilized before a referral to a child placement agency (for therapeutic foster care) is made.
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Infant Learning Programs; Supporting ‘Ordinary Magic’

While children of all ages experience abuse and neglect, it’s the very youngest children who are most vulnerable. Nearly 27 percent of victims of child abuse and neglect are under the age of 3. The impact of these traumatic experiences has been well-documented. A recent national co-morbidity survey found that adverse childhood experiences account for 32 percent of all psychiatric disorders and nearly 44 percent of all childhood onset disorders. The strongest correlation was with parental mental illness, parental substance abuse, family violence, physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, and criminal activity (Green et al. 2010).
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What is the Child and Family Services Plan and how can you help?

The Child and Family Services Plan (CFSP) is a strategic plan for OCS that sets our goals and priorities for the next five years. This plan will need to be submitted to the federal government by June 30, 2014. The plan requires statewide collaboration with tribal partners, youth, biological parents, and many other important stakeholders.
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Child Welfare demonstration waiver

OCS recently submitted a proposal for a Child Welfare Title IV-E waiver demonstration project. Demonstration projects are funded by the federal Children’s Bureau to provide an opportunity for states to better address the needs of children and families. They allow for the design and execution of innovative approaches to improve safety, permanency and well-being outcomes for children. While it does not provide additional funding to carry out new services, it allows the state greater flexibility to use Title IV-E Foster Care funds.
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2014 Early Childhood Mental Health Institute

The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, Department of Education and Early Development, Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority, the University of Alaska’s School of Social Work, Alaska Child Trauma Center and the Alaska Association of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health invite interested Alaskans to attend the 2014 Early Childhood Mental Health Institute.

The conference, which is focused on young children’s mental health, will be held April 7–9 in the Egan Convention Center in Anchorage. It will provide in-depth, practical information on supporting children’s healthy social emotional development, assessing young children’s mental health, addressing trauma, and supporting those who care for young children.
For more information and to sign up, visit:

Celebrate Honoring Our Children Day

When: April 26, 2014
Where: Statewide
Who: This statewide effort is led by Alaska Natives and is inclusive for all those who are part of our community — regardless of race, cultural background or heritage.
Learn more at:



Recently, the Office of Children’s Services had the privilege of hosting a collaborative training event in Anchorage. This training, focused on the realities of secondary or vicarious trauma, was led by facilitator and author Laura van Dernoot Lipsky, whose book is titled, “Trauma Stewardship: An Everyday Guide to Caring for Self While Caring for Others.” Close to 500 professionals from just about every discipline you can imagine, along with many OCS staff, sat with rapt attention as they listened to the presenter describe what so many of them had not previously acknowledged or viewed with such clarity.
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The number of children in protective custody has been on the rise for the past year and a half in Alaska. This may be an indicator of increased maltreatment rates, but may also be the result of other factors such as the severity of reported maltreatment, organizational practice changes, and duration of time spent in custody. Deeper analysis is currently being conducted to determine what factors may be contributing to this trend. 
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