DHS Gets More Time To Reform Its Foster Care Program
OKLAHOMA CITY - DHS announced it will get more time to reform the state's troubled foster care system. The initial deadline stemmed from a 2012 lawsuit settlement, where DHS agreed to improve several key areas deemed inadequate.
DHS called the deadline to implement the so-called Pinnacle Plan ambitious, and it's one they may not have met by December.
But now, both parties agreed to extend the timeline to implement the plan after seeing enough improvements. Yet, there is still more work to do.
The 2008 lawsuit filed against the state, highlighted deficiencies in the foster care system. It resulted in creating the Pinnacle Plan.
The Pinnacle Plan outlined specific goals DHS needed to meet to improve the lives of the children in its care.
“My kids were in custody for over three years. My 8-year-old was on edge that she was going to be taken away from somebody or taken to a different home with people she didn't know,” said one Oklahoma foster mother who wished to remain anonymous.
This mother adopted her two foster children last month. The two came into her care because their mother battled a drug addiction.
“The kids have to wait entirely too long for permanency,” she said.
A judge also agreed children were not moving through Oklahoma's foster care system fast enough. And it's one of two areas, DHS admits, they still need to improve during this extension.
“We know that there is still work to be done, but we do want the public to know that a lot of money has been invested and has been used and we are starting to see progress,” said Sheree Powell, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
DHS reports seeing improvements in worker visits with children, foster home recruitment, reducing shelter usage, and lowering workers’ caseloads.
DHS also says it will continue to reduce the abuse or neglect of children while in care and will work to get kids into a stable home faster.
“We're going to keep doing what we are doing because it's working we just still have some area that still need to improve and the extra time is really going to help,” said Powell.
There's no firm deadline in place for when the last two improvement areas need to be completed by, but DHS wants to see progress in the next two years.