InDHSS: Employee Newsletter


June 2014





Safe Surrender PSA Wins Emmy Award

Some exciting news for OCS and the professionals we work with at the Department of Health and Social Services!

DHSS Communications Manager Clay Butcher picked up an Emmy Award in Seattle June 7 for a moving public service announcement he created on Alaska's Safe Surrender Law. The Northwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences awarded the 2014 Emmy in the category of Community/Public Service for the video PSA.
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Background checks for foster care

Background checks can be confusing, but they play a critical role in keeping children and other vulnerable Alaskans safe. With the increased use of the Department of Health and Social Services’ fingerprint-based Background Check Program (BCP), and improved identification of barrier crimes or conditions, many people are concerned about how this process will impact their work and families. If someone applies to work with vulnerable adults or children in the state of Alaska, he or she will go through this process. So will all foster care providers, licensed and unlicensed. 
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Legislative Focus: 2014 bills affect OCS policy

Many bills made it through the legislative process in 2014. Here we focus on three whose passage will directly impact our work in the Office of Children’s Services.
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OCS regional psychiatric nurses: Who are we and what do we do

Four regions in Alaska have psychiatric nurses in their primary offices: Jenifer Swigart supports the Anchorage Region; Cheryl Blakney supports SCRO located in Wasilla; John Luchansky supports the NRO in Fairbanks; and Diana Grieser supports SERO in Juneau and also covers WRO off site.
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Innovation in practice: Improving the reliability of maltreatment determinations

The Office of Children’s Services (OCS) Initial Assessment (IA) workers conduct assessments on all screened-in child maltreatment reports. After ensuring present child safety and determining future risk, the IA worker determines whether the alleged maltreatment occurred per OCS policy and Alaska statutes. Everyone involved in this process is affected and wants assurance that reliable decisions are being made based on the facts presented, the extent of maltreatment, and on sound practice.
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South Central Region highlight: Better is the new norm

When I think of the improvements that the Wasilla field office has made over the past four years, it is difficult to pin down any one factor that I could convincingly articulate as the cause of our progress. So often we look for a single cause, intervention or adaptation that results in achieving the desired affects that we miss the true sources of change.
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The OCS Interview: Meet Casey Groat!

Statewide Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA) Coordinator for OCS.
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Greetings colleagues. As many of you know, everything OCS does and is statutorily required to do directly correlates to ensuring the safety, permanency and well-being of the children we serve. Over the past eight years, we have given a heavy focus to improving practice and the outcomes around child safety. We have made great progress in many ways, but there is still improvement needed to refine and bring greater consistency to those efforts. Safety is and will remain an area of focus in conjunction with our many ongoing efforts.
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One of the primary responsibilities of the Office of Children’s Services is to protect vulnerable children from maltreatment. One indicator of whether this responsibility is being accomplished is the rate of repeat maltreatment.
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