“ Child Welfare always carries the stigma of removing kids. When we come with a team (FEAT SEN Team), it gives parents a sense that we're committed and involved and trying to preserve the family, rather than just remove the baby. Parents are engaging quicker.”
-- Comments from DHS staff during DHS Child Welfare focus group, November 2008.
DHS Child Welfare's role in the FEAT project has been critical, at both a local (Lane County) and state level. CAPTA legislation includes requirements for states to identify:
“procedures for immediate screening, risk, and safety assessment and prompt investigation of reports relating to substance-exposed newborns”.
While all Child Welfare programs in Oregon have general procedures in place conducting safety assessments for children, this critical time period in the life of a family creates an opportunity for change. In Lane County, project FEAT has worked towards creating policies and procedures that limit placements and preserve attachments whenever the safe care of the newborn can be ensured. In addition, project FEAT has worked towards increasing communication between hospitals and caregivers (including foster parents) of SEN to ensure their safe care after discharge from the hospital.
The following components of the FEAT model interface with Child Welfare in Lane County. Other counties in Oregon are encouraged to collaborate with community partners to ensure the best possible outcomes for SEN and families impacted by addiction.
The Resource section of this website provides useful information on this topic for child welfare staff and caregivers of substance exposed newborns. See the Parent and Caregiver section for state organizations, websites and documents that provide support and information on the care of substance exposed newborns.