Oklahoma DHS Defends Its Foster Program After Scathing Report

Thursday, August 30th 2018, 6:24 pm
By: Karl Torp

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is taking issue with the latest report on its efforts to improve the foster care program for children.

As part of a 2012 lawsuit settlement, a three-person out-of-state panel monitors DHS and provides advice.

DHS Director Ed Lake said Thursday that DHS "strongly" objects to a number of portions of the report that says the agency has not made good faith efforts to improve foster care in some areas, notably the number of children who are abused or neglected.

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DHS says the number of foster children reported as maltreated is inflated because state law requires it to investigate the threat of abuse or neglect before it happens.

“We were very disappointed on the quality of this report, in the lack of context and lack of consideration for volumes of information we have provided to them,” said DHS Communications Director Sheree Powell.

DHS says its relationship with the three-person panel soured this year due to a number of issues including the timing of closing a foster care shelter in Tulsa.

DHS expects its monitoring to end next year.

It hopes to meet with panel members to better understand the panel’s expected level of engagement on progress reports.