Recent Articles from NewsOK and The Oklahoman

  • Oklahoma DHS pays settlement over murder of girl in foster care

    Oklahoma DHS pays settlement over murder of... By Nolan Clay Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Updated: Tue, May 17, 2016

    Oklahoma DHS settled the federal lawsuit for $435,000. The victim, Alysa Horney, bled to death on Dec. 8, 2013, after her liver was torn by a blow to her body. Her foster mother, Delila Ann Pacheco, 49, was convicted at a 2014 trial of first-degree murder.

  • Fired DHS worker charged with overtime fraud

    By Nolan Clay Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, May 16, 2016

    Heather Nicole Justine, 40, was fired Nov. 23 after a DHS internal investigation into her overtime claims. She was charged last week in Oklahoma County District Court.

  • Nearly 300 teenagers age out of Oklahoma DHS each year without being adopted or reunited with families

    Nearly 300 teenagers age out of Oklahoma DHS... By Ben Felder Staff Writer bfelder@oklahoman.com | Updated: Tue, May 10, 2016

    While many of the 16,000 children who spent some time in Oklahoma DHS care last year eventually will find a permanent family, others, such as Ruben Arrellano, exit the system on their own.

  • Experts say progress made at DHS can't be lost to state's budget cuts

    By Nolan Clay Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Updated: Mon, May 2, 2016

    The experts, known as co-neutrals, strongly urged Oklahoma's Department of Human Services and "its state partners" to continue to implement reforms despite Oklahoma's looming revenue deficit.

  • Director says DHS must be ready for 'unprecedented cuts'

    Director says DHS must be ready for... By Ben Felder Staff Writer bfelder@oklahoman.com | Published: Fri, Apr 22, 2016

    The Oklahoma Department of Human Services was hit with a $45 million deficit early this year and faces a projected $46 million shortfall headed into the next fiscal year. In total, DHS is bracing for an estimated $150 million shortfall through a combination of state and federal funding reductions.

  • Oklahoma DHS to offer more buyouts, reduce some services

    Oklahoma DHS to offer more buyouts, reduce some... Nolan Clay Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Updated: Mon, Mar 21, 2016

    The Oklahoma Department of Human Services reduction means no new clients will be added, at least until the end of June, to a cash benefit program for low-income families with disabled children.

  • Internal review finds DHS had three referrals from parents before 5-year-old was slain

    Internal review finds DHS had three referrals... BY GINNIE GRAHAM, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Jan 25, 2016

    In a volatile divorce that ended with the shooting death of a 5-year-old last year, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services had three prior referrals from the parents. An internal review found caseworkers did not follow protocol in one of those situations. On March 19, Bryon Creech began a...

  • Oklahoma foster parents sue DHS over firearms policy

    Oklahoma foster parents sue DHS over firearms... By Kyle Schwab Staff Writer kschwab@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, Jan 11, 2016

    Stephen and Krista Pursley, of Moore, Oklahoma, state in their lawsuit that they are prohibited by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services policy from possessing or carrying firearms in their vehicles or while their foster/adopted children are present.

  • Oklahoma DHS may have to reimburse fathers millions in paternity cases

    By Nolan Clay Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Published: Mon, Nov 30, 2015

    Four men filed the lawsuit in 2011, complaining they were wrongfully charged 10 percent interest on back child support rather than a fluctuating rate determined by the prime rate set by banks.

  • DHS foster child deported within months of aging out of system

    DHS foster child deported within months of... BY GINNIE GRAHAM, Tulsa World | Published: Mon, Sep 28, 2015

    Foster mother Tylisha Oliver drove pregnant, 18-year-old Gabriella Portillo to a meeting asked by her foster daughter’s parole officer. She had a feeling something wasn’t right because it was an unusual request. But meeting all the sentence stipulations on a youthful offender guilty plea was...

  • Oklahoma DHS shelter director retires rather than fight termination over handcuffing of children

    BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Updated: Sat, Aug 29, 2015

    Rebecca L. Price resigned by letter Tuesday. She had worked for DHS since 1984 and been director of the Pauline E. Mayer Shelter since May 2010. DHS officials suspended Price with pay on April 17 and replaced two off-duty, armed law enforcement officers who had handcuffed children.

  • Jari Askins tries to employ foster care reform plan

    Jari Askins tries to employ foster care reform... By TIM TALLEY Associated Press | Updated: Wed, Aug 26, 2015

    Former Democratic gubernatorial nominee Jari Askins may be facing her toughest challenge: implementing a court-ordered plan to improve the state's foster care system to better protect children in Oklahoma's child welfare system.

  • Oklahoma City police investigate pregnant fired DHS shelter worker

    Oklahoma City police investigate pregnant fired... BY NOLAN CLAY Staff Writer nclay@oklahoman.com | Updated: Mon, Jul 27, 2015

    Suzi Jane Neel, 30, of Moore, who is pregnant with twins, was fired by Oklahoma Department of Human Services in November and is now being investigated by Oklahoma City police on a possible illegal relationship with a teenage boy.

  • Reports on death of handicapped boy, 17, prompts investigation into parents

    BY JENNIFER PALMER Staff Writer jpalmer@oklahoman.com | Updated: Mon, Jun 22, 2015

    The Department of Human Services received nearly a dozen reports of potential child neglect in the years preceding the death of a 17-year-old boy with developmental disabilities in rural Woods County. Pneumonia and infected bed sores contributed to the death of 17-year-old Kalib Smart on April...

  • Tulsa mother of 12 charged with child neglect after 33 DHS referrals and investigations

    Tulsa mother of 12 charged with child neglect... By ARIANNA PICKARD - Tulsa World | Updated: Tue, Jun 9, 2015

    A Tulsa woman with at least 33 prior DHS referrals and investigations has been arrested on allegations that she neglected her children and provided them with inadequate shelter. She and four of her children were found living in a home with no running water; feces and trash covering the floor;...

  • Plaintiffs in DHS foster-care lawsuit argue for court intervention now

    BY GINNIE GRAHAM - Tulsa World | Updated: Fri, Jun 5, 2015

    Adequate progress is not being made in improving Oklahoma’s foster-care system to reach the goals in the Pinnacle Plan agreement, so court intervention is needed to spur faster change, a recent letter claims. Plaintiffs in a federal class-action lawsuit wrote to the monitors of the improvement...

  • Judge rules in favor of Oklahoma Department of Human Services in Serenity Deal wrongful-death lawsuit

    Judge rules in favor of Oklahoma Department of... By Nolan Clay, Staff Writer | Published: Mon, Jun 1, 2015

    Grandparents and mother of Serenity Deal sued the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and two fired child welfare workers after the 5-year-old girl was murdered by her father in Oklahoma City in 2011.



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DHS Investigative Team

Nolan Clay


Sr. Reporter

Nolan Clay was born in Oklahoma and has worked as a reporter for The Oklahoman since 1985. He covered the Oklahoma City bombing trials and witnessed bomber Tim McVeigh's execution. His investigative reports have brought down public officials, exposed shysters and resulted in reforms in such areas as day care oversight and workers' compensation court. He is a proud father and longtime fan of University of Oklahoma football. His wedding in 2001 was on the 50-yard line of OU's football field.

Randy Ellis


Investigative Reporter

For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two college presidents being sentenced to prison and a former chancellor being forced to resign. He has written about abuses of Oklahoma's workers' compensation system, corruption in the state's municipal bond industry, bid-rigging by county officials, self-dealing by state housing officials, misconduct involving state legislators and a variety of other topics. Ellis has won more than 80 state, regional and national awards for journalistic excellence. Prior to joining The Oklahoman in 1982, Ellis worked at Arkansas newspapers. He is a 1977 graduate of Kansas State University.

The Oklahoman's Watchdog team is a dedicated group of journalists here to expose corruption in Oklahoma. If you have any information about possible fraud, waste or abuse click on the
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