“We are in complete agreement with the decision today by Oklahoma DHS Director Ed Lake to cancel recently awarded contracts for the recruitment and retention of Bridge Resource Families.
“The reasons cited by Director Lake as the basis for his decision to cancel the contracts are the same problems we identified and shared with the agency.
“Our biggest concerns are the arbitrary geographic boundaries which ignore the reality of what it takes to recruit a foster family and that only one vendor was selected for each geographic area. These concerns were shared by everyone we heard from concerning the results of this contracting process.
“We realize that this move by the department will unfortunately further delay the essential step of partnering with private organizations to recruit, train and support foster families. However, we believe moving forward with the current process would yield significantly worse results over the long run compared to a delay in the short run necessary to address these significant issues.
“This public-private partnership is the centerpiece of recent DHS reforms including the Pinnacle Plan.
“We have no concerns with any of the entities that were awarded contracts and the canceling of these contracts are not a reflection on those private agencies. We understand that every vendor who submitted a bid is a licensed child placing agency each with impressive credentials.
“We believe the action taken today by Director Lake is a bold and necessary step for the success of this public-private partnership which is vital to meeting the goals of the Pinnacle Plan.
“We support this action and commend the employees of the Department for their extraordinary commitment to recent reforms.” Members of the House working group on DHS:
House Majority Floor Leader Pam Peterson Representative Jason Nelson Representative Pat Ownbey Representative Wade Rousselot