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.
DHS intends to hire 200 more workers to deal directly with children and 40 more child welfare supervisors in the next two years. It intends to set limits on child welfare workers' caseloads and to pay those workers more.
DHS commissioners agreed to make improvements when they voted to settle a class-action lawsuit brought by a New York-based child advocacy group. The agency submitted the plan on Friday to three neutral outside experts.
The experts can accept or reject the plan. Their decision is due May 14.
If the plan is rejected, DHS can modify and resubmit it. The experts could come up with their own plan if they reject the DHS plan a second time.
The agency has faced intense public and legislative scrutiny over the years, particularly after children in its care were killed.
The advocacy group, Children's Rights, alleged in its 2008 federal lawsuit that DHS policies and practices are so bad that neglected and abused children are being harmed or at risk of harm at state shelters and foster homes.