The panel found that DHS could have done its job better. It offered a number of recommendations. But it also noted that most times, child welfare cases “are worked thoroughly and professionally.” This should please DHS employees who are overworked and underpaid while dealing every day with troubling and difficult cases.
Another major point: The committee said better communication among those involved in child welfare — DHS, law enforcement, the courts, schools, etc. — could have made a difference in many of the cases they studied. The days of one hand not knowing what the other is doing must end.
Even if they do, even if every committee recommendation is acted upon by DHS, the sad reality is that Oklahoma children will continue to die of abuse and neglect. The goal should be to keep this from occurring once those children have entered a system that's meant to protect them from further harm.
“There is work to be done and the Department of Human Services must get their part right,” Lane said in the report. “But all of Oklahoma must work to (1) fix the system of investigating and protecting children and (2) work to prevent child abuse and neglect.”
Are we — all of us — willing to do that?