Group cites examples in Oklahoma DHS suit

BY RANDY ELLIS Published: December 28, 2008
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/> The caller said the foster mother had other DHS foster children in her home and she was concerned about the care they might be receiving.

DHS failed to tell a judge about the neglect complaint against the Skiatook foster mother during a review hearing concerning care for the 9-month-old girl held just five days after the complaint was received, attorneys said.

The baby’s primary caseworker stated in a sworn deposition that she was not notified of the complaint because the baby’s foster home was located outside the county where the caseworker was assigned and the child had already been moved.

The attorneys suing DHS cited the two cases as "graphic proof” that the safety and welfare of Oklahoma’s foster children are not being adequately protected by DHS and the state juvenile court system. They want a Tulsa federal judge to declare their case to be a class action so they can represent all children in DHS custody. There are about 7,230 Oklahoma children in foster care.

DHS attorneys want the judge to dismiss the case.

DHS spokesman George Johnson referred questions to attorney Don Bingham, who did not return telephone calls seeking comment. Bingham is a Tulsa private attorney who is helping defend DHS in the case.

The next hearing is scheduled Jan. 7 in Tulsa federal court.

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