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DHS staff as foster parents: State needs caregivers

By Randy Ellis Modified: August 26, 2007 at 6:29 am •  Published: August 26, 2007
The Department of Human Services has let dozens of its employees become foster parents since lifting a ban that had been in place to avoid the appearance of favoritism and conflicts of interest, The Oklahoman has found in an ongoing review of the child-welfare agency.

The change has led to complaints.

They include one from a former DHS supervisor who reported to the DHS inspector general that a worker was allowed to be a foster mother even though she once punched another woman and her husband had an assault conviction.

Another complaint came from a mother trying to get her three sons back. She claims she is being treated unfairly because the boys' foster mother was a DHS worker. One boy was seriously injured this year while in foster care.

Foster parents are adults paid by the state to provide a temporary home for children who have been removed from their own homes because of risk of abuse, neglect or special circumstances. The children are in the custody of DHS, and DHS workers oversee their care.

The DHS ban was in place until 1999.

"Employees becoming foster parents have been increasing because, as you know, the numbers of children in care are increasing,” DHS spokesman George Johnson said.

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