Group Calls For Reforms In Oklahoma Foster Care, DHS System - News9.com - Oklahoma City, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports |

Group Calls For Reforms In Oklahoma Foster Care, DHS System

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Dubbed the Serenity Project, Serenity Deal's grandmother and aunt were at the Capitol Tuesday to talk about the reforms. Dubbed the Serenity Project, Serenity Deal's grandmother and aunt were at the Capitol Tuesday to talk about the reforms.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

A child advocacy group is calling for bold reforms in the state's foster care and DHS system.

Dubbed the Serenity Project, Serenity Deal's grandmother and aunt were at the Capitol Tuesday to talk about the reforms.

Deal was found dead in her biological father's Northeast Oklahoma City apartment in June. Her father, Sean Brooks pled guilty to killing the 5-year-old little girl in December. Four DHS workers testified that Deal would be safe in her father's home. Serenity died shortly after Brooks was granted custody.

"If they would have just listened and done their job it wouldn't have happened," Serenity's grandmother Annett said Tuesday.

Annett and Serenity's aunt Mandy Wilson were at the capitol Tuesday as the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy laid out a number of reforms, dubbed the Serenity project, aimed at changing the state's child welfare system.

"This session we believe there is a moral imperative to be bold in our changes," OICA's executive director said.

Those reforms include:

-Privatization of the placement and support for foster care families . OICA says this will allow child welfare workers to focus on keeping children safe.

-Increasing the pay of DHS workers and tie pay increases to performance in order to attract and retain high-quality workers.

-Trauma training for child welfare workers.

-Encouragement of public-private partnerships for at-risk families so fewer children are placed into the foster care system.

Several bills have been introduced in the state legislature that include the reforms. The reforms would cost about $150 million dollars.

"I am incredibly hopeful that everyone under this dome is ready for some strong, bold change," said Terrell.

Serenity's family says they have already started calling legislators to get them to vote for and fund the reforms. OICA says since 2002, 41 children have died while in the state's care.

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