The governor and the state's two legislative leaders will meet next week to consider a proposal to settle a federal class-
The lawsuit accuses DHS of allowing conditions to exist that result in children being injured and otherwise harmed while in its shelters and foster homes.
DHS commissioners Tuesday night approved a settlement. Terms have not been disclosed.
The settlement must be voted on by the state Contingency Review Board, which consists of the governor, the speaker of the House of Representatives and the Senate president pro tem. The settlement will require DHS to change how it deals with children in foster homes, group homes and state shelters.
The governor and legislative leaders are scheduled to meet Wednesday.
“Clearly our No. 1 goal is to protect our children, take care of our children,” Gov. Mary Fallin said Wednesday. “But we also have to look out for the interests of the state. I'm looking forward to reading the settlement agreement and to see if it's a doable deal for the state, if it's in the best interest of the children and the state of Oklahoma.”
About the lawsuit
A New York-based advocacy group sued in 2008 to force DHS to make improvements in its care of children.
The group, Children's Rights, is suing on behalf of more than 8,000 children in DHS care.
The group has alleged DHS policies and practices are so flawed that neglected and abused children actually are being harmed or are at risk of harm in state care.
A trial was set to begin in February in Tulsa.
Negotiations have been under way for weeks on a settlement.
“I do think it's in the best interest of the state and the children if we can move the process along, find a fair agreement that does protect the children, and that frankly also improves the system for DHS and also helps hopefully keep us from having just years of lawsuits and attorney fees,” Fallin said.
“From looking at the comments from the various parties in the settlement agreement last night it looks like both sides, both the defendants and the plaintiffs, felt like it was a fair-type settlement,” she said.
“I haven't seen the facts of the settlement yet, but I am pleased that they're moving along.”
Clearly our No. 1 goal is to protect our children, ... but we also have to look out for the interests of the state.”
Gov. Mary Fallin