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In 2007, 473 children died nationwide, while living in foster care. (Adoption and Foster Care Analysis and Reporting System (AFCARS) FY 2007)

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Oklahoma CPS News Archive

Oklahoma News Coverage

by Randy Ellis

DHS officials greatly misrepresented to the public and their governing commission the number of children abused and neglected in out-of-home state custody, documents reveal.

The agency proclaimed Oklahoma was one of 24 states that met a national standard of having at least 99.68 percent of children in custody not experience confirmed abuse or neglect in out-of-home care. The claims were false.

October 19, 2011

by Sara Humphrey

ARDMORE, OK - According to a 2009 government report Oklahoma ranks third behind New York and Mississippi in most alleged abuse and neglect in state facilities.

The Oklahoman is reporting the Oklahoma Department of Human Services misrepresented information regarding the number of children abused while in their care, stating that 99.8 percent of children in their care did not experience maltreatment while in DHS care.

October 16, 2011

by Randy Ellis

As more and more children die in DHS care, commissioners there have ignored an audit calling for reform, belittled a federal lawsuit alleging children are being hurt and rejected calls for special meetings to address the ongoing tragedy.

Several commissioners at Oklahoma's Department of Human Services recently admitted under oath in depositions for the class-action lawsuit that they never read or only skimmed the taxpayer-funded $420,000 audit commissioned by the state Legislature to help the agency reform its child-welfare services.

September 11, 2011

by Ann Kelley

A child welfare worker and foster mother tried relentlessly to warn others to slow down placing 5-year-old Serenity Anne Deal with her father before she was killed, The Oklahoman has learned.

Child welfare worker Donald Wheeler killed himself during the investigation of the girl's death. Wheeler, his supervisor and the foster mother, Donna Linn, of Chandler, all warned officials with the Department of Human Services that the 5-year-old suffered while visiting Sean Devon Brooks and expressed concerns about placing her with Brooks permanently, according to emails, logs and other documentation obtained by The Oklahoman.

August 15, 2011

by Ann Kelley

CHANDLER -- A state child welfare worker who worked on controversial cases has taken his own life, authorities said.

The body of Donald Wheeler , 64, of Chandler, was found by a friend Wednesday morning near the Chandler Baseball Camp. Police said they consider Wheeler's death as a suicide. He worked in the Lincoln County office as a child welfare specialist, but was recently placed on administrative leave with pay along with three other child welfare workers involved in the Serenity Deal case. Serenity, 5, died June 4, about a month after DHS workers recommended she live with her father in Oklahoma City.

July 14, 2011

by Amelia Foxwell

Imagine you are a United States Marine. You can trace your families' proud military service back to the civil war. You have answered your call of duty in a nasty world of unrelenting sand, sleeplessness and the constant threat of I.E.D.s.

After eight years of service you return home as an Iraq war veteran with a flawless military service record. You have a loving family and are still devoted to protecting your country. The only problem is you have an estranged wife who makes repeated wild and disturbing accusations. You have a daughter you love and try to maintain a relationship with, but she is used as a weapon by a bitter woman with a troubled past.

April 5, 2011

by Ashli Sims

The report states DHS is shuffling too many kids around to too many different places and they say they have proof the system can destroy a child.

Nearly 8,000 Oklahoma children aren't under the care of a parent, but the state. And where their home lives have failed, DHS is supposed to step in to help them succeed.

February 20, 2011

by Nolan Clay

Oklahoma County District Judge Tammy Bass-LeSure was accused in a felony fraud charge Friday of collecting state funds to care for twins that she secretly gave to her bailiff's sister.

Bass-LeSure, 43, and her husband, Karlos Antonio LeSure, 46, cheated the state out of public funds for three years, prosecutors allege. The judge faces 30 counts of making a fraudulent claim and two counts of perjury. The judge has been paid more than $22,000 in public funds already for caring for the children, prosecutors allege. Monthly subsidies continue until the children's 19th birthdays.

January 27, 2011

by Laura Boyd

The Oklahoman on Sunday featured several articles about the Department of Human Services and its operations as well as commitments from gubernatorial candidates saying changes are needed in our child welfare system.

When it comes to Oklahoma 's children, it's time to get back to basics. That means protecting their health and safety, protecting them in harsh economic times and helping them develop their God-given potential. I, too, believe we need reform in our child welfare system. Not because DHS hasn't done a good enough job of an almost impossible mission - DHS should be respected for doing a crucial job on behalf of needy Oklahomans...

News OK

October 22, 2010

by Michael McNutt

Proponents of privatizing more of child welfare services said Tuesday it would increase accountability and transparency. DHS officials said the agency is moving in the right direction in response to legislation passed last year.

State funding for the division, which is about $117 million this fiscal year, would have to double, based on figures from Kansas and Florida, which privatized child welfare services. Thirteen states have privatized some portion of their case management services. Debra Smith, director of the DHS Children and Family Services Division, estimated about 25 percent of some foster care services is contracted with private vendors.

News OK

October 13, 2010

by Outdoors notebook

Oklahoma students have a chance to win an all-expense-paid outdoor getaway in a statewide youth outdoor writing contest.

To participate, students must be ages 11-17 and enrolled in any Oklahoma school or homeschool. The theme of the essay must be "Hunting: Sharing the Heritage" or "Archery: What I like about Archery in the Schools and Bowhunting."

News OK

October 10, 2010

by Amanda Terrebonne

A growing number of families are opting out of traditional schools for their children. More and more parents are choosing to educate their children - at home.

In the last 10 years, the number of American kids being home schooled has nearly doubled and the reasons are many. It's not your normal classroom. And if you ask these parents, that's a good thing. According to the U.S. Department of Education, 1.5 million kids are homeschooled. That's up 74 percent since 1999.

Todays KTHV

September 21, 2010

by David Harper

A trial date that is well more than a year away was scheduled Wednesday in a class-action lawsuit that seeks changes in the state's foster-care system.

Even though the lawsuit was filed in February 2008, it essentially became a new case earlier this year after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Frizzell's 2009 decision to grant the plaintiffs' request for class-action status, the judge said. McCarthy had expressed his dissatisfaction with the number of case files that had been shared with the plaintiffs, and he said that if improvements are not made, the court could issue orders that DHS might consider "draconian."

Tulsa World

July 8, 2010

by Sheila Stogsdill

WOODWARD -- A teenage foster daughter who authorities said had been returned to the state by two different adoptive families pleaded guilty Wednesday in a plot to kill her foster parents.

Kelsey Beames, 16, pleaded guilty in Woodward County District Court to shooting with intent to kill and conspiracy to murder. She was sentenced to remain at the Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center until five months after her 18th birthday, said Danny Lohmann, assistant district attorney.

News OK

June 10, 2010

by Jacqueline Sit

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A metro day care director has been accused of chocking a 4-year-old boy, but workers at the day care said nothing has been done.

Natasha Lanier works at the Childtime Day Care Center and said she witnessed the abuse. However, Lanier is a friend of the boy's mother, who also works at the day care. Now both of them have been placed on administrative leave.

News 9

April 29, 2010

by Ginnie Graham

Oklahoma has been as resistant as any state that Children's Rights has sued over child welfare concerns, the group's founder says.

Children's Rights began as a project of the New York Civil Liberties Union and later the American Civil Liberties Union. It became an independent nonprofit in 1995. The group has filed lawsuits against child welfare systems in Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Wisconsin and Washington, D.C.

Tulsa World

April 28, 2010

The financial toll to the state - to taxpayers - is already significant, and stands to grow much larger before we see any resolution to a lawsuit over Oklahoma's foster care system.

The Tulsa World reports that the Department of Human Services has spent about $2.4 million defending itself in the two years since Children's Rights, Inc., filed the federal lawsuit. This isn't unexpected. DHS Director Howard Hendrick braced for a long fight, and has talked about how that could affect morale and possibly lead to more turnover.


April 24, 2010

by Randy Ellis

TULSA -- The state has agreed to pay $700,000 to settle a lawsuit filed after a 2-year-old Sperry boy died with his mouth taped shut and hands bound by a child care provider

The state made the first $625,000 payment of the settlement Friday to the parents of Joshua Minton and their attorney, Daniel Graves, according to Office of State Finance records. The payment was split to accommodate the state Department of Human Services, which is struggling to deal with budget reductions.


April 23, 2010

by Curtis Killman

The state of Oklahoma is paying $625,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by a Sperry family who sued the Department of Human Services after their 2-year-old son died when a child-care provider taped his mouth shut.

The state made the payment Friday to Robert and Kathryn Minton and their attorney, Daniel Graves, records show. DHS officials declined Wednesday to comment on the $625,000 payment, again citing the confidential agreement. But generally, the state's self-insurance fund and liability insurance would pay any civil rights damage awards in excess of a $150,000 deductible that would apply to DHS.

Tulsa World

April 22, 2010

by Ginnie Graham

The state Department of Human Services has spent about $2.4 million since April 2008 on attorneys to defend it in a federal class-action lawsuit alleging abusive conditions in the state foster-care system, according to records reviewed by the Tulsa World.

The suit, filed in February 2008 in federal court in Tulsa, accuses the state of placing foster children in harm's way because of deficiencies in the system such as too many cases per worker, not enough home visits, multiple placements and not enough training for foster parents.

Tulsa World

April 18, 2010

New details have come to light Thursday in the federal class action lawsuit against Oklahoma's child welfare system.

The state is fighting back against claims that caseworkers are overloaded. The group of attorneys suing DHS claimed the agency didn't know how many cases workers were assigned. New court documents filed this week claim each worker only has 12 to 16 cases.

KOTV -- NewsOn6 Tulsa

April 14, 2010

by Randy Ellis

Another foster child was subjected to at least 81 placement changes and had 97 caseworkers and 88 supervisors during 10 years and 9 months of her time in DHS custody.

These are just two of many findings in a supplemental report filed Wednesday in a 2008 federal class-action lawsuit filed in Tulsa that is seeking to reform Oklahoma's child-welfare system.

Tulsa World

March 25, 2010

New developments in a class action lawsuit against Oklahoma's Department of Human Services.

Two years ago Children's Rights filed the lawsuit on behalf of all of Oklahoma's 10,000 foster children. Attorneys are asking the Governor's office... to turn over records of child welfare workers' caseloads.

Fox News 23

March 25, 2010

by Elizabeth U. Cascio

More than four decades after the first model preschool interventions, there is an emerging consensus that high-quality early-childhood education can improve a child's economic and social outcomes over the long term.

Publicly funded kindergarten is available to virtually all children in the U.S. at age five, but access to preschool opportunities for children four years old and younger remains uneven across regions and socioeconomic groups. Parents with financial means have the option of enrolling their child in a private program at their own expense.

Education Next

March 8, 2010

by Clifton Adcock

OKMULGEE -- Almost four months after 3-year-old tribal foster child Kyra Zubah died in a Tulsa hospital of an apparent homicide, no arrests have been made and no charges have been filed.

Rob Barris, the assistant district attorney in Okmulgee County, said his office is waiting on a final report from the Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office before determining how to proceed. The Oklahoma Medical Examiner's Office had about 1,500 cases pending, in November, the office does not have enough personnel to analyze results from different tests, autopsies and other evidence collected.

Tulsa World

March 8, 2010

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