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State Question 765: Revamping DHS model would benefit Oklahomans

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board Published: October 14, 2012

Admittedly, the success of the working groups depends upon future directors' willingness to use them effectively. Still, the groups will be a forum for constantly assessing and publicizing problems at DHS that might otherwise go unnoticed.

Unfortunately, the ballot language drafted by the attorney general could cause some voters to think SQ 765 would abolish DHS entirely. This isn't the case. It changes the agency's governing structure while leaving the agency intact.

Some may worry that having a political appointee head DHS will result in rapid turnover or, worse yet, cronyism. But we can replace the Oklahoma governor every four years and that seems to work fine. Self-preservation should keep most governors from naming incompetent people to head DHS or arbitrarily replacing a good director. The governors of most other states have similar DHS appointment power.

Most importantly, the current system simply isn't working when it comes to child protection. DHS is the only state agency to be the subject of three class-action lawsuits in recent decades; its record of failure in child-welfare cases is extensive. Recent depositions made clear that some members of the current DHS commission were largely asleep at the wheel.

For these reasons, we urge voters to approve SQ 765. It should improve a flawed system and, we hope, increase the safety of endangered children.

by The Oklahoman Editorial Board
The Oklahoman Editorial Board consists of Gary Pierson, President and CEO of The Oklahoma Publishing Company; Christopher P. Reen, president and publisher of The Oklahoman; Kelly Dyer Fry, editor and vice president of news; Christy Gaylord...
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