Oklahoma leaders to review DHS settlement proposal next week

The governor and two Oklahoma legislative leaders will consider a proposal to settle a federal class-action lawsuit that accuses the Department of Human Services of allowing conditions to exist that result in children being injured and otherwise harmed while in its shelters and foster homes.
BY MICHAEL MCNUTT mmcnutt@opubco.com Published: December 22, 2011

A New York-based advocacy group sued in 2008 to force DHS to make improvements in its care of children.

The group, Children's Rights, is suing on behalf of more than 8,000 children in DHS care.

The group has alleged DHS policies and practices are so flawed that neglected and abused children actually are being harmed or are at risk of harm in state care.

A trial was set to begin in February in Tulsa.

Negotiations have been under way for weeks on a settlement.

“I do think it's in the best interest of the state and the children if we can move the process along, find a fair agreement that does protect the children, and that frankly also improves the system for DHS and also helps hopefully keep us from having just years of lawsuits and attorney fees,” Fallin said.

“From looking at the comments from the various parties in the settlement agreement last night it looks like both sides, both the defendants and the plaintiffs, felt like it was a fair-type settlement,” she said.

“I haven't seen the facts of the settlement yet, but I am pleased that they're moving along.”

Clearly our No. 1 goal is to protect our children, ... but we also have to look out for the interests of the state.”

Gov. Mary Fallin

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