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Oklahoma child welfare law pleases author

BY JULIE BISBEE Modified: September 23, 2009 at 4:19 am •  Published: September 23, 2009
The author of a child welfare reform bill signed into law last legislative session says he’s pleased with how quickly provisions of the bill have been acted upon and the improvements they have made to children’s lives.

Rep. Ron Peters, R-Tulsa, and other lawmakers met Tuesday with juvenile court judges, district attorneys and state Department of Human Services officials to discuss House Bill 1734 and the implementation of the bill that was signed into law by Gov. Brad Henry in May.

"I’m shocked,” said Peters. "I never thought we’d get here this fast, especially when everybody said it couldn’t be done.”

By working with law enforcement, DHS officials have been able to cut down on the number of children in youth shelters. The population of children in Oklahoma City’s youth shelter was 19 on Tuesday. It was 26 in Tulsa.

In the past, law enforcement was allowed to remove from a home a child they believed to be at risk, without the involvement of a DHS caseworker or a judge. In many cases, the children were placed in shelters and eventually returned home within two to five days, Peters said.

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