Second Oklahoma City children's shelter licensed as existing DHS shelter nears capacity

DHS has obtained a temporary license to open a second children's shelter in Oklahoma City as its existing shelter continues to operate at near capacity.
by Randy Ellis Published: September 10, 2012
Advertisement
;

DHS has obtained a temporary license to open a second children's shelter in Oklahoma City as its existing shelter continues to operate at near capacity.

The new license was issued at a time when DHS is under intense pressure to reduce or eliminate its use of shelters for abused or neglected children — particularly babies.

There were 42 children at the Pauline E. Mayer shelter Friday, just six under capacity, said Sheree Powell, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Of the 42 children at Pauline E. Mayer on Friday, seven were ages 2 and under, and 12 were ages 3 through 5, Powell said. The other children were teens or preteens.

To cope with potential overflow, DHS sought and obtained a temporary 45-day license from the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth on Aug. 31. The license authorizes the agency to operate a second shelter that could house up to 16 children ages 5 and under, said Lisa Smith, director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.

DHS officials settled a federal court lawsuit in January by agreeing to develop and abide by a reform plan that calls for the agency to eliminate the use of shelters for abused and neglected babies under age 2 by Dec. 31 and eliminate the use of shelters for children 6 and younger by June 30. Instead of shelters, DHS will be required to place children in family-like settings.

Powell said DHS officials remain committed to those goals.

Although opening a second shelter might sound like a step backward, Powell said the agency has been making some progress.

When The Oklahoman looked into the shelter's operations last February, reporters found the facility had frequently exceeded its licensed capacity and that some babies were being kept for lengthy stays, including one baby who had been there 66 days at the time of the visit.

| |

by Randy Ellis
Capitol Bureau Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
+ show more

Advertisement


At a glance

People willing to serve as emergency foster parents can get more information online at www.okbridgefamilies.com or calling (800) 376-9729.

“It's a constant stream of children coming into the system, which also means it is a constant effort on our part to find more foster homes.”

Sheree Powell

Spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services

Trending Now



AROUND THE WEB

  1. 1
    Check out the Thunder postseason playlist
  2. 2
    VIDEO: Blake Griffin dumps water on a fan
  3. 3
    Oklahoma City Thunder: Grizzlies guard Nick Calathes calls drug suspension unfair
  4. 4
    Dave Chappelle Reveals Shockingly Buff New Look
  5. 5
    Peaches Geldof Funeral to Be Held on Easter Monday
+ show more