Approved! DHS too lax on exemptions

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 28, 2007
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CHILD beaters have no business being in a day care. On that, we're certain most people would agree.

But the state Department of Human Services is letting it happen anyway, despite a policy that prohibits child abusers and many other former criminals from operating, working in or even being in child care centers or home day cares.

That's one of the disturbing conclusions in an ongoing Oklahoman investigation into DHS. Parents should read carefully today's reports in The Oklahoman and on NewsOK.com about how DHS allows exemptions to the policy. In the 19-month-period investigated, reporters Nolan Clay and Randy Ellis and former database editor Ryan McNeill found that DHS grants more exemptions than it declines. And while owners must post exemptions, they aren't required to disclose what crimes were committed.

DHS Director Howard Hendrick acknowledged that the policy allowing exemptions may sometimes be "inappropriately applied.” That's an understatement.

The investigation uncovered some exemptions that would give any parent pause. Last year, DHS let a convicted felon open a day care in Oklahoma City after she was imprisoned for distributing drugs, among other things. Another person seeking an exemption submitted a reference from the assistant manager of a convenience store where he shopped.

Three exemptions went to people involved in hurting children, including a man who hit his 3-month-old in the face for crying and another who broke a baby's leg.

Reporters focused their investigation on exemption requests from January 2006 to July 19, 2007.


by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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