More Oklahoma Lawmakers Blast DHS's Handling Of Child Fatality Cases

Monday, October 17th 2011, 9:42 pm
By: News 9

Adrianna Iwasinski, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Two more Oklahoma lawmakers go on the record blasting DHS. They are demanding answers from the commission charged with overseeing the embattled state agency.

Both Representatives Mike Sanders and Richard Morrissette are calling for some big changes saying enough is enough.

Things got pretty heated and emotional during Monday's news conference as both representatives took turns blasting DHS.

"The house and the senate over the last few years has not had the political courage proper revisions,"  Rep. Morrisette said.

Their harsh words come just days after the release of a review done by the Oklahoma Commission on children and youth into the death of 1-year-old AHonesty Hicks.

10/13/2011 Related Story: Agency's Report Details Events Leading To OKC Toddler's Death

Hicks was in state custody after her mother tested positive for drugs. But according to DHS, she was under her mother's and grandmother's care when she was rushed from their apartment to a hospital. She died a short time later.

The mother's boyfriend, who was caring for the baby girl at the time, has been charged with shaking her and killing her.

Both lawmakers say the number of children dying in state custody is unacceptable.

"We need to get some answers, and maybe they have them and maybe they don't, we need to get answers as to why these children are dying," Rep. Morrisette said.

"One death is too many and we've had numerous high profile deaths in this state," Rep. Mike Sanders said.

According to DHS, last year eight children died while legally in state custody. But only two of those were because of abuse and neglect. And in the last ten years, there have been a total of 129 children who have died for multiple reasons while under their watch.

Both representatives have asked the DHS commissioners to meet with them on Friday to discuss possible solutions.

House Speaker Kris Steele is also calling on DHS commissioners to come to the table to review what their committee has found after doing a review of DHS. That meeting is scheduled for Wednesday.

8/15/2011 Related Story: Pottawatomie County District Attorney Blast DHS's Handling Of Serenity Deal Case