TULSA, Okla. — Thousands of foster children in Oklahoma rely on the Department of Human Services to help them find a home.
The number of children in DHS care has dropped from over 10,000 to 8,012. The agency credits that trend to providing services upfront that prevents children from being removed from their homes and reunifying children with their parents faster.
However, DHS is still working to recruit and retain foster families -- 50 percent of all children who enter foster care in the Tulsa County region are placed in foster homes outside of the county because there are not enough foster homes available.
In 2018, DHS worked with 16 private agencies to recruit new foster homes including Family of Life.
Ronda Davis and her husband Keith started Family of Life about two years ago after they spent years as foster parents. They say they started the agency in order to provide quality training and support for foster families.
A recent report found DHS did not make good faith efforts to prevent maltreatment of children in care, did not do enough to reduce worker caseloads, did not recruit enough new foster homes and needs to improve communication with foster families.
DHS Director of Communications Sheree Powell says the agency is focusing on making sure children in care are safe by visiting foster families more often, and making sure foster care workers visit with families at least once a month face-to-face. Powell says she is confident the next report in the spring will show improvements.
After 24 months with good faith efforts in every category, DHS can request an end to monitoring.
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