Newcastle Neighbors Raise Concerns About DHS Group Home
NEWCASTLE, Oklahoma - Newcastle neighbors are raising concerns about the Bison Creek group home for teenaged boys. They say the kids keep breaking into nearby homes and businesses, with little to no consequences. Now they hope to work with DHS to seek a solution.
The neighbors say problems started not long after the group home opened about a year ago. Now they do not even feel safe in their own homes.
Surveillance video captures one of the teens walking around the house next door to Bison Creek last Thursday, trying to open each door he can find. When none were unlocked, he went to the next house, where a grandmother was inside with two young children. The teen pulled off the screen to the front window, then the woman's granddaughter pulled up and scared him away, back to the facility.
“The kids come and go as they want,” said the homeowner who caught the teen on video. “The issue is when they go they’re getting on people’s property, doing things they shouldn’t be doing and then no consequences for their actions.”
The homeowner called the McClain County Sheriff's Office for five days, demanding action. The teen was arrested on Tuesday.
He is one of 16 kids in DHS custody who stay at Bison Creek. All have experienced trauma and abuse.
“Their behaviors are learned,” said Sandi Gillett, who fosters a teen girl who lived in a group home last year. “It’s environmental. That’s why they’re not with their parents anymore, and it hasn’t helped not being in a family environment to teach them the right way.”
Gillett says these kids need nurturing. Bison Creek supervisors provide education and counseling, but they are not family and the rules are limited.
The homeowner next door said, “We don’t know if they’re coming in our house or what they’re going to do, and someone is going to get hurt and we don’t want that.”
Community members on both sides are meeting with DHS this week to come up with a solution everyone can agree on.
“This is like the last stop for them, so don’t kick them out,” urged Gillett. “Don’t treat them like they don’t belong. Welcome them, support them, and it could turn into something that they would never imagine.”
The community meeting is happening Thursday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at Veteran’s Corner, located at 3805 SE 44th Street in Newcastle.