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In The News

Trial Date Trial date set in Oklahoma foster-care lawsuit

By DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Published: 7/7/2010 10:56 PM
Last Modified: 7/7/2010 10:57 PM

A trial date that is well more than a year away was scheduled Wednesday in a class-action lawsuit that seeks changes in the state’s foster-care system.

U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell set the trial for Oct. 17, 2011, but said the date “may be a bit ambitious” in light of the scope of the case. He told attorneys that “it will require all of your efforts” to attain the goal.

Marcia Robinson Lowry, one of the attorneys for the plaintiffs, had asked that the nonjury trial be scheduled for next summer. However, Frizzell said a setting some 15 months in the future is more realistic.

Even though the lawsuit was filed in February 2008, it essentially became a new case earlier this year after the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Frizzell’s 2009 decision to grant the plaintiffs’ request for class-action status, the judge said.

On behalf of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, attorney Donald Bingham apologized for the slower-than-anticipated pace of providing pretrial “discovery” materials to the plaintiffs. His apology reiterated that made last Thursday by co-counsel David Page at a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Frank McCarthy.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=14&articleid=20100707_11_0_Atrial29601



Lawsuit could hurt state's foster care
POINT OF VIEW Keeping families together is vital

BY RICHARD WEXLER The Oklahoman    Comments Comment on this article4

Published: December 6, 2009

Comment on Article:
All issues of fraud regarding fed funding has been removed from this suit even though that was one of major issues that started it. There are also frauds and conflict of interest occurring regarding the lack of legal representation of children being concealed. And the number of children in foster care is being misrepresented. It should be called a "Class Action Law fraud".



Pity the vulnerable children of Oklahoma, trapped between a state agency that routinely lets them be abused in its care and some lawyers who mean well, but don‚€™t have a clue how to stop it.


The horror show that is Oklahoma foster care is aptly symbolized by the foster parent who justified abusing foster children by declaring: "If you don‚€™t beat them down, they will run all over you.‚€Ě Less well known: The Oklahoma Department of Human Services declared the complaint against this foster parent "unconfirmed.‚€Ě

The group that calls itself Children‚€™s Rights (CR) deserves credit for bringing this case and many others to light through its lawsuit against DHS. It has helped keep these horrors in the news. That, in itself, may force some change for the better. But the lawsuit itself is likely to accomplish nothing and, if CR‚€™s recent track record is any indication, it may even do harm.

That‚€™s because the lawsuit ignores the issue that drives everything else, something made clear in a comprehensive performance audit of DHS from Hornby Zeller Associates, commissioned by the Oklahoma House of Representatives. Repeatedly, that report warns that "Oklahoma removes too many children from home.‚€Ě

My organization‚€™s data confirm that Oklahoma tears apart families at one of the highest rates in the nation, more than 50 percent above the national average, and double or triple the rate in states widely regarded as, relatively speaking, models for keeping children safe.

This hurts children in every possible way. Even when foster homes are not abusive ‚€” the majority are not ‚€” the inherent trauma of needless removal can destroy a child‚€™s psyche for life.

One recent study of foster care "alumni‚€Ě found they had twice the rate of post-traumatic stress disorder of Gulf War veterans and only 20 percent could be said to be "doing well.‚€Ě A second study, of 15,000 typical cases, found that even maltreated children left in their own homes with little or no help fared better, on average, than comparably maltreated children placed in foster care.

Wrongful removal also overloads the system, stealing workers‚€™ time from finding children in real danger who really should be taken from their homes.

The Hornby Zeller report insightfully dissects the reasons for Oklahoma‚€™s obscene rate of child removal and offers some smart, specific solutions.

But Children‚€™s Rights is silent on this. And the group‚€™s recent track record is alarming: Its settlement in Michigan led that state to cut funds for prevention and family preservation in order to hire more workers to take away more children. So unless CR changes its approach, its lawsuit is likely to leave Oklahoma with the same lousy system only bigger.

If CR can‚€™t get past its bureaucratic take-the-child-and-run mind-set and propose a settlement that emphasizes safe, proven programs to keep families together, then it should drop its suit and go away ‚€” before it makes things even worse.

Wexler is executive director of the National Coalition for Child Protection Reform, www.nccpr.org.

My organization‚€™s data confirm that Oklahoma tears apart families at one of the highest rates in the nation, more than 50 percent above the national average.


People in Oklahoma...Reps Want Your Stories

Oklahoma House of Representatives

Media Division

Contact: State Rep. Richard Morrissette
Capitol: (405) 557-7404

WHO: State Rep. Richard Morrissette ( D-Oklahoma City )
WHAT: Public hearing on the Department of Human Services
WHERE: Room 432A of the Oklahoma Capitol, 2300 North Lincoln Blvd.
WHEN: From 9 a.m. to noon on Wednesday, April 23, 2008

THE STORY AT A GLANCE: State Rep. Richard Morrissette ( D-Oklahoma City ) will conduct the second of a series of public hearings at the Capitol on the Department of Human Services. The April 23 meeting will include testimony from individuals who have been affected by DHS' actions or failure to act.

Members of the public are both invited and urged to attend, especially those who wish to discuss their interaction with DHS.

DHS has been mired in controversy due to the apparently preventable deaths of children in the agency's custody. DHS' record has led to the filing of a class action law suit by an out-of-state child welfare advocacy group.

Morrissette said the hearing will focus on identifying solutions to the problems discussed by current and former clients of DHS.

Morrissette introduced House Bill 2890 this session, which would have divided DHS into three separate entities. The measure did not receive a hearing.

Earlier this year, New York-based child advocacy organization Children's Rights sued the Department of Human Services on behalf of nine children who were allegedly physically and psychologically damaged by Oklahoma 's foster care system. The lawsuit alleges that abused children are often re-traumatized while in state custody because of numerous flaws in DHS
oversight and management of the foster care system.

Note: Speaker of the House contact information to express your opinion and or grant a Formal House Hearing. ....... Honorable Chris Benge, 2300 N. Linclon Blvd. Room 401, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. 73105-4885. 405-521-2711 ask for the Speakers's office or email, chrisbenge@okhouse.gov

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 Local and National Advocates File Federal Class Action Lawsuit Against
Oklahoma State Officials to Reform Child Welfare System

Complaint details ongoing failure to protect children in state custody from severe abuse and neglect

TULSA, OK Outlining a decade-long slide into disrepair and across-the-board failure to protect children in state custody from often extreme abuse and neglect, the national child advocacy group Children’s Rights has joined four Oklahoma law firms and the international firm Kaye Scholer in filing a federal class action today seeking top-to-bottom reform of Oklahoma’s child welfare system on behalf of the more than 10,000 children placed in its care.

The lawsuit, known as D.G. v. Henry, charges Oklahoma’s Department of Human Services (DHS) with violating the constitutional rights of children by routinely placing them in unsafe, unsupervised, and unstable situations in which many suffer further abuse—and some die—due to the department’s longstanding failure to correct widespread problems that prevent it from providing adequate care and protection. (Read More)

Link to Class Action Suit

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Greetings from the Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition

State Question (Initiative Ballot) Number 745 is an initiative petition that was created and filed by the President & Chairman of the Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition (Clarence W. Cooper, II) in January of 2009. Among many other much-needed, and ground-shaking, measures in this Initiative Petition, SQ745 seeks to re-empower and re-engage the communities of the State of Oklahoma through the provision of public servant accountability and "Honest Service". Protecting innocent parents and their children from falling victim to unnecessary separation and restoring justice to our broken system; whilst pressing our public service offices to more properly protect the lives and interests of authentically abused children.

Since January 15th, 2009, the committees and members of the newly-formed Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition have gained astounding recognition and support for this cause, from the residents of Oklahoma and across the United States. Steadfastly pursuing our mission to re-establish the voices of the people as the voice of governance for our communities, elected officials, and public servants. We know that positive change is not easy; but it is achievable.

The Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition is not a "Parents' Rights Group"; as all parents, in this state and nation have unalienable rights as guaranteed by the Constitution of The United States. What we are, without question, is an organization of communities, seeking to re-establish and continue to foster the true ideals of community unity; sanctity of family; unalienable civil, constitutional, and human liberties. We seek
to provide true community and family services through communication, education, coordination, and facilitation of a wide variety of resources for the people of Oklahoma; whilst endeavoring to protect our most precious liberties which the people are afforded under The Constitution of The United States.

From working with our elected officials to bring lasting, positive, and truly effective change to the children and families of Oklahoma, to driving the people of our great state and nation to reclaim their sovereign place as communities who share a common good and interest. The members of the Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition are working hard to build stronger families, stronger communities, and a stronger America. Leading by example, and demonstrating, to our offices of government, that the people of this great state and nation do not require provision of welfare; the  people only require the promotion of it.

Please feel free to take a look at our website www.745.org to review our petition and the goals of the OKFRC. If our cause is one that is congruent with yours, please feel free to post or link our site on yours.

For the Children,
Tina Vercelli
Chair, Legislative Liaison Committee
Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition
Phone: 580 320 0706
E-mail: tvercelli@sq745.org

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Go to Site: http://www.sq745.org/



Oklahoma Family Rights Coalition/SQ745- http://www.sq745.org/

340:75-3-8. Investigation protocol

Chapter 75. Child Welfare Manual


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