InDHSS: Employee Newsletter


August 2010


Meet the members of the OCS Leadership Team: (left to right) Naomi Harris, Christy Lawton, Tim Huffman, Shirley Pittz, Joe Hall, Natalie Powers, Tracy Spartz Campbell, Travis Erickson, Kim Guay.


Welcome to the first edition of the Office of Children’s Services’ public newsletter. If you’re receiving this, it means you already subscribed. If you wish to unsubscribe, you may do so at the bottom of the page. A tip on navigating this newsletter: If you’re interested in reading the full story on any of these articles, just click on the “full story” link and it will take you to another page. To navigate back to the homepage, click the “go back” button on the top right hand corner of your page.

Meet the OCS Senior Leadership Team!

This team is collectively responsible for ensuring the agency runs as effectively and efficiently as possible. Each has specific oversight in core areas, but the team functions as one, when it comes to making decisions that impact operations or staff statewide. They — along with the respective 500 other bright, dedicated, and hard working OCS employees — are here to serve you. Click here for full article

Office of Children’s Services completes program improvements

November 30, 2011 marks the completion of OCS’s two-year, federally required Program Improvement Plan (PIP). The PIP incorporated key strategies and action steps designed to address areas needing improvement in Alaska’s child welfare system as identified during a 2008 federal Child and Family Services Review conducted by the U.S. Administration for Children and Families. The on-site review included an analysis of Alaska’s child welfare data; a Statewide Assessment developed by OCS; on-site reviews of 65 cases (from Anchorage, Juneau and Bethel); and interviews with local and state stakeholders. ; The PIP entailed working with stakeholders and staff at all levels of the agency in order to accomplish numerous initiatives and strategies aimed at enhancing nine specific outcome areas related to safety, permanency and well-being of children in the child welfare system. OCS is demonstrating steady improvement in all nine areas as a result of these efforts. Click here for full article

Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council (AECCC)

The Alaska Early Childhood Coordinating Council (AECCC), co-chaired by commissioners Mike Hanley from the Department of Education and Early Development and William J. Streur, from the Department of Health and Social Services, was established in the fall of 2010. The purpose of this group is to “promote positive development, improved health outcomes, and school readiness for children prenatal through age 8 by creating a culturally responsive, comprehensive, and accessible service delivery system that links service providers, empowers families, and engages communities.” The goal of the AECCC is to support the creation of a unified, sustainable system of early care, health, education, and family support for young children and their families. Click here for full article

We are "Better Together"!

When partners in child welfare value and respect one another, the children of Alaska benefit. On Dec. 5–7, 2011, OCS staff, allies, alumni and the Resource Family Advisory Board came to Anchorage in a collaborative effort to strengthen their partnership, improve communication and develop relationships with the intent to positively change the foster care system. Guided by the “Better Together” curriculum outline, our facilitators Tess Thomas and Karen Jorgenson walked us through the powerful results possible when stakeholders work together. There was a strong emphasis on the importance of good communication between partners, including active listening as well as patience and courtesy when dealing with misunderstandings. Everyone present grew in appreciation for the unique work of each individual involved in Alaska’s child welfare system. Click here for full article

What it means to be a mandatory reporter

All Alaskans are responsible for the welfare of the children in our communities. In that respect all citizens are encouraged to contact the Office of Children’s Services (OCS) about suspected abuse and neglect of a child. Alaska state law, however, requires that individuals in certain professions make reports to OCS immediately if they have reasonable cause to suspect child abuse or neglect; failure to make a report is punishable by law. These people have a legal obligation to report and hence are considered “mandatory reporters.” All reporters are a crucial link to protecting Alaska’s most vulnerable citizens — infants, children, and youth. Click here for full article



Greetings from OCS. I’m thrilled to be publishing OCS’ first-ever external newsletter. In an effort to increase communication and transparency with you — our families, foster parents, Tribal workers, stakeholders, and interested citizens — we will be issuing this newsletter on a quarterly basis. We will attempt to focus the newsletter on topics we believe may be of most interest, areas that are often misunderstood, or on issues that are of local or national news interest that we may wish to weigh in on.
Click here for full article


After several years of struggling with understaffing, dramatic increases in the number of children placed in out-of-home care, staff turnover, and challenging community relationships, the Wasilla Field Office is tackling these challenges head-on with the help of Casey Family Programs. Click here for full article


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