Recently a class action lawsuit was filed in Oklahoma claiming that children are being mistreated within the child protection system. http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=14&articleid=20100708_14_A1_Marcia556191

It was filed against various DHS officials in Tulsa federal court in February 2008. The judge is unhappy that DHS is taking too long to prepare for the trial.

The plaintiffs (children) ask for improvements in the following areas:

Lower Caseloads for DHS workers and supervisors.

Education and training for agency employees, foster parents and adoptive parents.

Monitoring of the safety of children in state custody.

The original plaintiffs were nine children who are alleged to have suffered in DHS placements. The case has since become a class-action lawsuit with thousands of children in DHS custody as plaintiff

How many states have caseloads that are just too high to provide a realistic safety net for the children they support? How many states need more training and education for the agency employees, foster parents, and adoptive parents?

Without educating judges, court workers, and criminal justice people, this nation is still on the path to maintaining excessive prison populations and disastrous school performance among the population of abused and neglected children.

This is the tip of the iceberg. Legislators in many states ought to be finding money to make these changes without class action lawsuits. To think that we are a nation forced to sue on behalf of abused and neglected children because legislators did not see the need to provide the services or resources to keep children safe shows a deep failure within our system.

To those social workers and supervisors that will be made to look bad as this case becomes news; you need to stick together and make your arguments clear and concise. Support each other and recognize that it is a glaring fault of an uncaring institution that would make the people doing the hard work look bad when failure is almost guaranteed as resources are stretched too thinly. Stick together, support each other, and make your arguments to the public. The size and scope of this problem has become too large to keep buried and silent.

America’s child protection systems need help at many levels. Like all of us, social workers do the best they can with the resources they have.

Children need this victory. They will have more resources and support if the case is resolved fairly (& maybe legislators will see the wisdom of avoiding class action lawsuits and vote for more child friendly programs).

There needs to be more money for training and services.

Without it, abused and neglected children will continue to become preteen moms & felons and lead dysfunctional lives in and out of our institutions, costing our nation a multiple of what we might have spent saving them with the price of training and services when they were young.

America is on trial here. Oklahoma is not the only state to abandon its abandoned children.

Here are a few other examples;

Can’t Make This Stuff Up

The State of Child Welfare

Tip Of The Iceberg; Abused Children Dying Due To County Backlogs

By DAVID HARPER World Staff Writer
Published: 7/8/2010  2:24 AM
Last Modified: 7/8/2010  6:10 AM

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.

McCarthy had expressed his dissatisfaction with the number of case files that had been shared with the plaintiffs, and he said that if improvements are not made, the court could issue orders that DHS might consider “draconian.”

McCarthy said the approximately 44 complete case files that were supplied to the plaintiffs’ lawyers in June — as well as the more than 1,400 hours DHS devoted to the effort that month — was unacceptably low and far less than DHS had estimated it could accomplish.

Page told Frizzell on Wednesday that DHS has shared with the plaintiffs 15 more complete case files since then. As of this week, he said, 10 more employees are working full-time on the project and will continue to do so over the next two months. That will more than double the effort that was expended in June, he said.

After the initial 200 case files to be produced have been shared, another group of 200 will be assembled and disclosed to the plaintiffs.

Also, the defense received a request from the plaintiffs just this week for information pertaining to more than 200 children who they say may have been victims of abuse while in state custody. It was not clear Wednesday whether any of those children are among the 400 whose case files were already requested by the plaintiffs.

Saying DHS is not stalling, Bingham noted that since March 26 the defense has turned over more than 155,000 pages of documents that contain the sort of “systemic” information about DHS that is relevant to the plaintiffs’ claims.

He did not suggest a specific trial date, advocating instead that the lawsuit progress in stages until a realistic date becomes apparent.

Lowry said a firm setting was important to the progress of the case.

In the meantime, McCarthy has asked for written updates on the discovery issues from each side by Aug. 6, with a hearing set for Aug. 10.

About the lawsuit

The lawsuit, which alleges deficiencies in the state’s foster-care system, was filed against various DHS officials in Tulsa federal court in February 2008.

The plaintiffs ask for improvements in the following areas:

Caseloads for DHS workers and supervisors.

Education and training for agency employees, foster parents and adoptive parents.

Monitoring of the safety of children in state custody.

The original plaintiffs were nine children who are alleged to have suffered in DHS placements. The case has since become a class-action lawsuit with thousands of children in DHS custody as plaintiffs.

Read more from this Tulsa World article at http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.aspx?subjectid=14&articleid=20100708_14_A1_Marcia556191

4 Comments

  1. It’s good that cps is getting sued cuase they stoled my child from me in garvin county, ok back in 2004 and didn’t even give my family a chance to adopt her when i gave the a list of ten diffrent people that was willing to adopt her including my mother and my aunt that was aproved to adopt her so the syestem is crooked and you tell people to report abuse or neglet of a child but when someone does turn it in you send someone out that don’t see past the lies that are told to them so i don’t know why anyone should call in in the first place when nothing is done and the case is closed i guess all the kelssey briggs and alysa jhonsons is not enough died kids for you. YOU NEED MORE???. I have reported the same person nine times now and nothing has been done my mother has turned in someone ten times along with my step-father witch worcks on the cat team and nothing has been done about it the case just was closed so i think making a report is useless. thank for your time Linda

  2. My child was taken from me from a private school that I paid 10,000$/year for. They never talked to me or investigated anything prior to taking my child, they have never been to my house. In fact I am and I was a wonderful mother, my child greatly suffered because of DHS. They separated us and placed him in the home of pedophile who my child is still living with. I am fighting in court and it made it impossible after what DHS has done to us. I am a normal person, live in a very nice clean home, have two degrees..have another family now who have never even met my first son because of Oklahoma DHS. My life has been destroyed by DHS, but it is nothing compared to how destroyed my son’s life is who is still abused and the most important that is to him was taken away from him. No child should be abused and live without his mothers love. DHS needs to be shut down

  3. Yes, the system is very broken. Your pain and the pain of the children should not be forgotten. I pray for you all.
    A question comes to mind. What about returning to an orphanage system? There could be small – family style orphanages. It would cut down on the abuse issue, I believe, and also increase stability for the children as they would have a consistent place to call home.

  4. What I want to know is why there are no checks and balances in the system. If your child is taken from you then do some background checks on the social services people, not to mention the lawyers. You can bet there are some nasty little skeletons somewhere. The fact is that people who are put in charge of our children (and I use the term loosely) are usually just as bad. If they can do it to you, you can do it back. It’s that simple. The system is not used correctly for the most part. It’s time to stop wasting tax payer dollars to fund the rich. When school officials beat your kids, no one calls the police for child abuse, parents are unaware that they have that right. If a teacher or pricipal hits your child without your permission, then you need to call the police and file a report. Here are a few examples of glorious wastes of taxpayer dollars.

    http://nospank.net/n-t45.htm
    http://www.democracynow.org/2011/2/22/judge_convicted_in_pennsylvania_kids_for
    http://nospank.net/n-t62.htm
    http://www.nospank.net/n-t99.htm

    Now if we can get big pharma under control, via the court system, so they will stop drugging our kids, we might get this issue turned around. I personally promote the idea of homeschooling your children, it’s just pure lazy not to take the responsibility for their education. It has been proven that if you leave others in charge, then someone is going to get greedy and nasty and you the parent are going to lose control of your ability to effectively raise your kids. A good way to find out who is funding your local school district is to go down to the court house and search through the public records.

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