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Oklahoma Department of Human Services reforms to cost $150 million a year

by Nolan Clay Modified: March 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm •  Published: March 30, 2012

Oklahoma Department of Human Services officials estimate reforms to the agency's child welfare operations will cost $150 million a year once all the improvements are in place.

Under an improvement plan made public Friday, the state will be responsible for about $100 million a year and the federal government will contribute about $50 million.

“It will require greater support in money and personnel from the state,” Gov. Mary Fallin said at a news conference.

“The state of Oklahoma is committed to making a good-faith attempt to implement this plan and to achieve the goals set out within it,” she said, standing with House Speaker Kris Steele and Senate President Pro Tem Brian Bingman.

“We have no intention of falling short,” Fallin said. “I want to make that very clear.”

The Department of Human Services intends to reach that level of funding in increments over five years.

In the plan's first year, DHS wants almost $30 million more in state funds to begin making improvements. The first year of the plan begins July 1.

Most of the increased funding will go to recruit, support and retain foster parents. DHS has set a goal of recruiting 1,000 new foster families.

Fallin said she filmed a public service announcement a few days ago encouraging Oklahomans to become foster parents.

DHS wants more foster families so it can stop using its often-overcrowded shelters to care for young abused and neglected children put in its care. The agency's goal is to place children younger than 6 only in family-like settings by June 30, 2013.

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