The Department of Human Services (DHS) in Oklahoma received the go-ahead from the federal government to use foster care funding to send more contracted social workers into homes.
Sheree Powell, with DHS, said this is in response to the surge in children in the foster care system. In the last two years, the number of foster kids jumped 40% in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma has a huge problem right now with substance abuse, with domestic violence, with a lot of different issues that affect children,” said Powell.
DHS officials said the new Intensity Safety Services approach will mean contracted social workers will spend more time with families, up to 10 hours per week for up to six weeks, providing counseling and other resources to get them on the proper path.
“Many times the children have experienced neglect, physical abuse or even sexual trauma. And so all of those things impact our capacity to function as human beings,” said North Care Chief Operating Officer, Clark Grothe.
The clinician will work with the family to try and keep the child at home safely, instead of adding more trauma by putting them in foster care.
“As you can imagine for a young child, that would be very disruptive to be taken from the only home they've known and be placed in a strange foster care placement and or a shelter,” Grothe said.
North Care is the contracted agency providing the in-home services for DHS. Some 60 North Care clinicians will visit homes in 47 counties, while Family and Children's Services will visit the homes in the eastern part of the state.
The stepped up services will begin in July 2015.