Pilot CWS-R-SAP – v. 1 Current CWS, 11.12. Child Suicide


Pilot Child Welfare System Redesign

Strategic Action Plan


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11.12. Child Suicide


Youth Suicide Prevention[1]

“The national movement of suicide prevention and suicide postvention has made significant gains in the last decade. Federal legislation has paved the way for states to offer a variety of services and educational opportunities for the public. Despite these efforts, Oregon continues to have higher rates of youth suicide than the national average. The Department of Human Services, Child Welfare Program, began exploring this issue in 2017 and concluded that many of the children dying by suicide have had some contact with child welfare systems. In response, several efforts have begun to train DHS staff on suicide prevention.” [bolding added for emphasis]


Education and Training[2]

“To date, the Child Safety Program has identified two CPS program coordinators to implement a plan to offer suicide prevention services for Child Welfare. Additional efforts to provide suicide prevention training for any Department of Human Services employee is also being spearheaded by the Chief Administrative Officer of DHS Shared Services. Currently, three evidence-based suicide prevention trainings are being offered: Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR); Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST); and safeTALK.” [bolding added for emphasis]


“Child Welfare identified QPR as an appropriate suicide prevention training for Child Welfare and over 100 individuals have been certified as QPR trainers to carry out the effort to train all staff. This includes Portland State University Child Welfare Trainers, Child Welfare Consultants across programs, and staff working in the role of MAPS – Mentoring, Assisting and Promoting Success.” [bolding added for emphasis]


Awareness Champions[3]

“In addition to training, each Child Welfare district has been asked to identify individuals to serve as Suicide Awareness for Everyone (SAFE) champions. SAFE champions will be offered more comprehensive training through ASIST or other suicide prevention programs and serve their local office in the following ways:

  • Develop and maintain a list of community-based suicide intervention services


  • Become certified to provide QPR training to DHS staff as well as community partners


  • Offer case consultation for families dealing with the issue of suicide


  • Organize trauma response efforts related to suicide” [bolding added for emphasis]


Intervention Partners[4]

“Child Welfare’s efforts around youth suicide prevention have also included collaboration with external partners, in particular the Oregon Health Authority’s Zero Suicide Coordinator, for continued improvements in suicide intervention statewide. This collaboration also includes the creation of a suicide intervention protocol specific to local Multi-Disciplinary Teams (MDT). This protocol will include what cases are appropriate to bring to an MDT forum and actions taken by the MDT.” [bolding added for emphasis]



Action Step 11.12.1: Recognize child and youth suicide as possibly the result of child abuse or neglect. During initial assessment, include an evaluation of warning signs of suicidal ideations and address them separately with the child. Children as young as 5 years old have contemplated or actually committed suicide.


Action Step 11.12.2: Include “suicide” as a possible type of child fatality caused by family and investigate previous reports, including screened-out reports, involving the child or the family.


Action Step 11.12.3: Review cases involving “accident” as the cause of a child fatality as a possible type of child fatality caused by family; investigate previous reports, including screened-out reports, involving the child or the family.


Action Step 11.12.4: For every child fatality, thoroughly investigate previous reports, including screened-out reports, involving the child or the family


Action Step 11.12.5: As a prevention technique, run a program weekly to compare all reports in the OR-Kids database looking for multiple reports involving any specific child, specific family members, or child’s address and produce a printout of the multiple reports including whether each report was screened-in or screened-out; assign specific CWS staff to review the printout of multiple reports to send additional reports to CPS for assessment.


Action Step 11.12.6: Provide an anonymous “Oregon Caseworker Questionnaire” to all CPS Caseworkers to determine opportunities to support Caseworkers and reduce turnover. Assign a specific team of supervisors to review every returned questionnaire and develop guidelines for improvements to the Child Welfare System based on the suggestions from the Caseworkers themselves.


[1] https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/CIRT/Pages/Youth-Suicide.aspx

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://www.oregon.gov/dhs/CHILDREN/CIRT/Pages/Youth-Suicide.aspx


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To submit questions or comments, please email Jo@Jo-Calk.com. I welcome all input, ideas, and suggestions. Thank you for caring for children.


Jo Calk