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Oklahoma plaintiffs cite DHS ‘disarray’

BY RANDY ELLIS Modified: December 5, 2008 at 12:13 am •  Published: December 5, 2008

/> Attorneys associated with the group represent nine children in the lawsuit but are seeking class action status to represent all children in DHS custody. There are about 7,230 Oklahoma children in foster care.

The children’s attorneys have been battling DHS for all the e-mails by the current and past caseworkers and supervisors assigned to the nine children they represent.

Lowry said e-mails her group has been able to obtain so far show foster children’s cases are being mismanaged.

In one May 2007 e-mail, a caseworker said a child’s foster home placement was "doomed ... from the start because of all the family friction, problems, etc.”

In another e-mail, dated September 2007, a caseworker says a foster child was bounced around for weeks among three different shelters "because we have a shortage of foster home resources and had no opening to offer him.”

"The idea of using shelters to the degree Oklahoma does is clearly damaging to children as well as being expensive,” Lowry said.

An adoption request was held up for six months because some paperwork was missing and the case was passed around while an employee was on extended leave, an April 2008 e-mail from a DHS supervisor revealed.

In other e-mails, workers complained about being "very understaffed” and "very overworked,” and having to visit 10 homes in a single day.