Children's home builds new cottage

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Reported by: Michelle Linn
Updated: 2/25 5:35 pm Published: 2/25 2:23 pm

OWASSO, Okla. - Oklahoma's Department of Human Services system is overwhelmed.

For months, FOX23 has been tracking the state's foster care crisis and backlogged cases.

DHS wants another $33 million just to get through the next four months.

Some state lawmakers say the money isn't there.

FOX23 checked out another place that helps children who can't live at home, that does not rely on any state funding.

"They are great kids. There's no question about that. They've just had some unfortunate things at home. There are lots of different stories," said Scott Pallett, administrator of the Oklahoma Baptist Children's Homes Owasso campus.

"We just want to help any way we can.”

Maybe you’ve driven by the facility, off 76th Street North, in Owasso, and wondered who lives on those 40 acres.

The Baptist Children's Home campus has been there since 1973.

"We really call it a family-style living situation, where they can have meals together and do activities together," said Pallett.

FOX23 found out 46 kids live there. About a quarter of them come from DHS.

The Baptist Children's Home doesn't charge for services, and they don't take any government money.

So how do they do it?

"It's literally taken hundreds of people. Money has come from everywhere. We've had Bible school groups, vacation Bible school groups, children collecting money and bringing funds in," said Pallett.

Pallett has spent the last 16 years on the Owasso campus.

He said one of the things he is most proud of is that his own staff pledged $10,000 to build a new cottage.

It's actually two cottages under one roof, with space for three sets of houseparents, their biological children, and 16 students.

On each side, there's a houseparent apartment, with three bedrooms, for the couple and their own children.

Then there's a large great room and kitchen, along with bedrooms for eight students.

In the middle, there's an adjoining apartment, for another set of houseparents, and their children.

"Our kids and staff are excited and they keep asking who gets to move into these two new cottages," said Pallett.

The old cottages have cracked foundations and plumbing problems.

Pallett said an engineer told them more than a year ago one cottage needed to be torn down.

Along with being more structurally sound, these cottages will have some high-tech features.

"You know our No. 1 goal is to keep children safe, and so we will have some video cameras and monitors to help us do that, especially at night. That's something that we haven't had before, but we just feel like supervision is so important," Pallett said.

The new cottages should be ready to move into by the time school gets out.

Pallett said the project cost $1.6 million.

He's hoping more donations come in, so they can build another one just like it on the other side of the playground.

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