Jari Askins Works To Reform Child Welfare System In Oklahoma

Monday, April 6th 2015, 10:32 pm
By: News 9

Governor Fallin called on a one-time political opponent to help overcome one of her administration's greatest challenges. The governor asked Jari Askins to take the lead in reforming Oklahoma's child welfare system.

Monday was her first day on the job. She's working at DHS, where her primary responsibility will be to oversee the implementation of the Pinnacle Plan.

The Pinnacle Plan is the court-approved plan to reform to the state's child welfare system. It grew out of a class-action lawsuit against DHS. That plan was approved back in 2012 and it gave the state five years to meet measurable goals in seven different performance areas.

Periodic reviews by neutral observers showed the state is making progress but still falling short on key measures like recruiting more foster homes, reducing caseloads and reducing the use of shelters.

Askins, who lost to Fallin in the 2010 race for governor, said she's grateful to be given this opportunity.

“When you have something as serious and as important as improving the issues involving our child welfare system, systemic changes can sometimes take a great deal of time. And from what I have seen, the efforts that started two and a half years ago are beginning to see fruition,” Askins told News 9.

Askins just finished up a seven-month stint as interim executive director of the Pardon and Parole Board.

She has served as a judge, state representative, and lieutenant governor. In this new position, she will earn $170,000 dollars.