Panel Offers Recommendations Following OK DHS Investigation

Thursday, April 4th 2013, 6:01 pm
By: Dana Hertneky

The results are in in a 16-month long investigation into Oklahoma DHS and child deaths.

The 20 member committee met for a total of 2,200 hours and were given access to DHS files and DHS personnel. The 38-page report outlines the findings and recommendations of a 16-month investigation. Among the recommendations:

-There were not "50 children on average who died in OKDHS care in any year" as was originally alleged.

-There are policies that need to be changed at DHS including those in regard to hiring standards, performance standards, Hotline management, training, and, communication.

-Most of the families appear to have multiple risk factors: such as unsafe living conditions, drug abuse, and Domestic Violence.

-Often, the public failed to report observations of child abuse and neglect.

Read the full report.

"We were very pleased with the fair nature of this report," said DHS spokesperson Sheree Powell.

The committee's initial purpose was to determine if DHS was negligent in the child deaths. But the study also found there were additional agencies who are also accountable in the outcome of a child abuse victim.

4/4/2013 Related Story: Panel Has 37 Recommendations On Oklahoma Child Deaths

"There's a big system there, so they started finding issues in other agencies in ways they could work together better," said Powell.

In regards to the DHS recommendations, Powell says they have already implemented them or are in the process of doing so.

Rep. Richard Morrissette, whose initial outrage sparked the study, said Thursday that DHS needs to concentrate on making sure children are safe and never in danger.

Read DHS's response.