The Oklahoma Department of Human Services announced today it is increasing reimbursement rates for foster families and pay for child welfare workers over the next five years. The increases are part of the Pinnacle Plan for improving child welfare services.
State Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, supports the increases in reimbursement rates and worker pay.
"We ask for a tremendous amount of sacrifice from foster parents and, frankly, from the workers on the front-line. They certainly deserve the increase. But great foster parents and great child welfare workers will tell you that money alone won’t lead to the improvements in the Department that are still desperately needed. Changing the culture at DHS is the kind of key reform needed that money can’t buy.
"I will continue to work with Governor Fallin, the Department and others to make sure real improvements happen at DHS - particularly on the worker side. I have visited recently with Interim Director Preston Doerflinger and Commission Chairman Wes Lane about the need to professionalize the frontline workforce so we can attract enough quality applicants to these key positions. We also need to better train and support workers and link worker promotions and pay to demonstrated skill levels. These types of improvements in personnel policy will, in turn, improve the experience and outcomes for children in state custody and for the foster parents who open their hearts and homes to the these children.
“Our child welfare system will never be any better than the workers on the front-line and the foster families that open their homes. It’s great to see these changes, and others, finally moving forward but it’s important to remember that it will take time to see the full positive results from these reforms and that no single action is enough.”
Since October, Nelson has served as chairman of a working group in the House of Representatives tasked with performing a thorough review of the Department of Human Services. The working group made several sweeping recommendations during the 2012 Legislative Session that were passed and signed by Governor Fallin.
One of the recommendations by the working group resulted in State Question 765 being submitted to voters this November. SQ 765, if approved by the voters, would abolish the constitutional DHS commission.