Oregon Safety at Screening Tool

Released: December 2018
Occurred: June 2022

Can you improve this page?
Share your insights with us

Safety at Screening is a predictive risk tool developed (pdf) and used by hotline workers at Oregon's Department of Human Services (DHS) from late 2018 to help decide which families flagged for instances of child abuse and neglect should be investigated by social workers.

Reaction

Oregon stopped using the system in June 2022 after an AP review of Pennsylvania's Allegheny Family Screening Tool was found to have flagged a disproportionate number of Black children for 'mandatory' neglect investigations. Allegheny's tool had originally inspired Oregon officials to develop their system.

Oregon officials say its tool was stopped in order to reduce disparities concerning which families are investigated for child abuse and neglect by child protective services, and that it would be replaced by a new programme - the Structured Decision Making model.

US Senator Ron Wyden said he had been concerned about the algorithms used by Oregon's child welfare system and had requested information about racial bias from the department following the AP story.

Transparency

A black box, Oregon's Safety at Screening tool has not been audited internally or externally.

Operator: Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS)
Developer:
Oregon Department of Human Services (DHS)

Country: USA

Sector: Govt - welfare

Purpose: Predict child neglect/abuse

Technology: Prediction algorithm
Issue: Accuracy/reliability; Bias/disrimination - race, ethnicity

Transparency: Black box