Our Grand Children are victims of;

"Protect the "system" at all costs. The "system" is the only ultimate sacred cow - not any particular law or constitution, but only "the system." Because, ultimately, it is the system which makes certain that the individuals functioning within it - from judges to lawyers, to prosecutors, to politicians, to businessmen - have their places and positions, and opportunities and pecking order, and future."

In 1696, England first used the legal principle of parens patriae, which gave the royal crown care of "charities, infants, idiots, and lunatics returned to the chancery." This principal of parens patriae has been identified as the statutory basis for U.S. governmental intervention in families' child rearing practices.

"We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America."
Preamble of the original "organic" Constitution

"We hold these truths to be self-evident. That all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness; that to secure these rights, governments are instituted among men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed; that whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government, laying its foundation on such principles, and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their safety and happiness."
Excerpted from the Declaration of Independence of the original thirteen united states of America, July 4, 1776

Sunday, April 1, 2012

2011 Citizen Review Panel Annual Report/Recommendation 1/OCS response

 2011 Citizen Review Panel Annual Report

The full report can be read at:


Recommendation 1:
Based on our recent site visits to the Fairbanks and Wasilla field offices, we recommend that OCS work to improve the culture within the agency. The current atmosphere impairs the ability of workers to appropriately protect Alaska’s children and families.

This concern was raised after we spent several days in each of these field offices talking with OCS workers at all levels. Line workers and supervisors felt that the OCS culture devalues them and that they are trying to do an extremely difficult job while often feeling disempowered. Staff at partnering agencies perceive the behavior of OCS staff as defensive. The perception among community partners was that many OCS staff
isolate themselves and do not collaborate or communicate in a collegial manner.

When asked about desired working relationships with partnering agencies OCS spoke of a desire to collaborate. Yet OCS does not collaborate with its own staff when it comes to changing policies and procedures. Staff from a number of field offices have mentioned how new policies or programs are handed down without them having an adequate opportunity to provide input. At present they are not asked the right
question in order to generate input—for example, they are offered an opportunity to wordsmith the policy without being asked about its impact. The assumption has already been made that the new initiative will be implemented; they can just weight on the ‘how,’ NOT the ‘if.’ We suggest that OCS leadership respect the enormous knowledge base of workers enough to ask them ‘if’ a new policy or procedure is a good idea and whether it would work well in their unique region of the state.

Staff indicated that they are on the receiving end, simply told what to do. We recognize that within a bureaucracy there is a necessity for a certain amount of hierarchy or nothing would get done. However, when feedback from staff is fully considered, not only is buy-in increased, but outcomes are usually better. Front line staff are just that—on the front line. They know how things will play out in the field, and how things will be received by partnering agencies, how the families would respond to a given policy.

The current culture within OCS stifles worker initiative and creativity. Workers in Fairbanks and Wasilla are reluctant to problem solve within the limits of policies and procedures because of fear of retribution. The current atmosphere limits individual professional initiative. Workers feel like there are check lists to be completed and no place that allows them to use their judgment, experience or discretion. Ultimately, this
costs OCS staff. Many competent professionals leave, some physically, some emotionally. We recommend that every staff member be empowered to talk to any level OCS staffer, without having to go through the chain of command. We prefer the chain of command and think it works in most circumstances, but sometimes an individual needs to be able to step out of the chain to get to the right person. The obvious goal is more open communication to improve relationships and lessen the ponderousness of the bureaucracy.

We recommend that training be more tailored to an employee’s skill needs rather than a one-size-fits-all approach. We understand that, at this time, individualized training is something OCS is interested in implementing in the future, once mass trainings required by the PIP are completed. We are very supportive of this effort.

In an effort to determine how staff and resources can more effectively be allocated, OCS identified three studies they would like to conduct. These three studies include the following:

A study to determine what tasks may appropriately be handled by support staff and which tasks must be handled by the line workers;

A study to determine to appropriate level of support staff for workers including SSA and clerks; and

A study to evaluate the staff to caseload ratio around the state to determine the equitable placement of PCNs.

Over the past several months, OCS staff attempted to evaluate this internally. They have decided the assessment is too complicated and time consuming for current staff to add to their existing workloads. They now plan to contract with an outside agency. In this time with fewer resources, these studies will allow existing resources to be spent as effectively as possible. *Ensuring the front line workers are doing social work not transporting children, supervising visits, or delivering documents to court will allow for a more satisfied and empowered staff. All these efforts will help decrease the high turnover rate among OCS staff. More continuity among staff coupled with feeling valued and empowered leads to better service to children and their families. The CRP supports their decision to get accurate data from professionals who can accomplish this in the most timely manner. Future l staff management cannot be successfully implemented without this information.
* Ensuring the front line workers are doing social work not transporting children, supervising visits, or delivering documents to court will allow for a more satisfied and empowered staff.

I read this as: More service providers pining for a piece of the pie and more free time for those poor social workers to snatch more kids. If this happens, the kid count will go up dramatically resulting in bigger profits for all. 

OCS Response to CRP Annual Report 

The full report can be read at:
Recommendation 1:
Based on our recent site visits to the Fairbanks and Wasilla field offices, we recommend that OCS work to improve the culture within the agency. The current atmosphere impairs the ability of workers to appropriately protect Alaska’s children and families.

We recognize the important contributions made by all OCS employees and strive to foster a collegial, positive and collaborative work environment. There are times however when pockets of staff within offices or offices as a whole are feeling particularly overwhelmed and frustrated. The culture within offices is often heavily influenced by the leadership within them. Leadership being long term front line staff as well as supervisors or managers. The positive or negative energy can ebb and flow, sometimes being influenced
by as few as one disgruntled employee that impacts everyone around them. Office dynamics are challenging. We recognize that stress is inherent in this work and that in can play out in many ways with our employees. We encounter just as many employees who say they are leaving the agency because of the internal culture as we do who say they are staying because the culture of support, teamwork, and camaraderie is so positive.
In recent months, we have been trying some new approaches to involve OCS employees in fostering a more collegial and overall more positive work environment. These include soliciting feedback from employees, involving more employees in decision making, and modifying the way we share internal information.
Soliciting feedback from employees. We continue to modify and improve our annual employee survey. This year we had 317 responses representing 74% of our staff.
Among the many things we learned from the survey:
• 79% agree or strongly agree that the philosophy of the Office of Children’s Services as reflected in the Practice Model is clearly described to staff.
• 77% agree or strongly agree that they receive feedback from their supervisor regarding their performance which is useful in making changes in their work.
• 84% agree or strongly agree that their supervisor is available and responsive to questions they have regarding their work.

However, we also learned that only 42% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed that there are regular opportunities to provide information and suggestions to regional and state office management. For this reason, we are committed to continue working to improve opportunities for open communication between all employees of the organization.
Modifying the way we share internal information. Based upon feedback from OCS employees, our internal newsletter will be undergoing a major overhaul in 2012. Among the many changes, the name of the newsletter will be changed from *“The Pipeline” to “Frontline” to reflect our focus on the importance of our employees on the front line of child protection. In addition, the content will be modified to include all levels of staff from across the state, and focus more on positive events, self care tips, humor, and photos rather than strictly programmatic information sharing from management to field staff. All employees will be encouraged to submit topics and articles for Frontline. Involving more employees in decision making. In recent months, the Wasilla field office has developed and started implementing a plan of improvement. This process was designed with the help of external facilitators who engaged local staff in problem solving and
strategy development. This process has been very effective and by their reports, found to be useful and beneficial by all level of employees who participated including front line workers, supervisors, managers and administrators. We intend to continue using these types of inclusive methods to involve all levels in decision making whenever possible.
In addition, we are currently soliciting volunteers to participate in a formal statewide Employee Advisory Committee. Beginning in 2012, we intend for this committee to represent the interests of our front line staff and to have a regular and consistent forum to express their interests through direct discussion with the Director and senior leadership staff.

*If you can't dazzle them with brilliance... baffle them with b%*(#%&t.
*“The Pipeline” to “Frontline”?  
Ocs Pipeline http://www.hss.state.ak.us/ocs/newsletter/201203/

*The posts made in this blog are of our opinion only* Without Prejudice UCC 1-207

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