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Oklahoma lawmaker wants foster care changes

BY RANDY ELLIS Modified: March 1, 2010 at 2:25 pm •  Published: February 28, 2010

Wh
ere no effective group emerges, DHS would retain control, he said.

"I see it more as a flexible interaction rather than saying it’s privatized or it’s public. The advantage community groups have is community participation to recruit foster parents, to train them, to provide a support group,” he said. "DHS would retain oversight.”

Blackwell said he would expect the transition to take five to 10 years and isn’t proposing to lay off child welfare workers.

"That’s the last thing that I would want is mass layoffs,” he said. "I just don’t see that as happening. I think the number of people involved will lessen over a period of time, but I think it will be in line with attrition, retirements, changes of jobs, etc.”

Blackwell said there are a lot of details still to be worked out.

Hendrick said DHS did not request the bill, but called it "something to be looked at.”

"Actually, we do privatize a lot of the services already,” he said, citing home studies and prevention services as being among the services his agency already outsources.

"The real issue in the legislation is, should there be a privatization of case management?” he said. "There are pros and cons. The states that advocate for the privatization of the case management process believe they can get more community support around that activity than can the state agency. That’s been a mixed bag. In some states they have had a lot of success with it. Some places they haven’t.

"I think my biggest concern really is to make sure we don’t have anything fumbled if we were to go to that approach ... . It’s a different set of problems.”