OKLAHOMA CITY -- The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) has awarded contracts to private partnerships for the recruitment, support and retention of foster families.
To keep up with the rising number of children coming into the foster care system, DHS must have an adequate number of foster families. Following the settlement of a class action, civil rights lawsuit against the state's foster care system, DHS developed the Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan, a five year improvement plan. The process for selecting the new foster care providers met the requirements of the plan.
Foster care contracts have been awarded to the following vendors:
- Angels Foster Family Network, Inc., Oklahoma City
- DCCCA/Tall Grass Family Services, Lawrence, Kansas
- St. Francis Community Services, Tulsa
- TFI Family Connections, LLC, Emporia, Kansas
Through partnerships with these agencies, DHS will provide seamless customer service through one point of contact for foster families during recruitment, assessment, training and on-going support. The agencies will help support families as they interact with DHS throughout the foster care approval process, during placement and care of children in their homes, and help provide an understanding of the child welfare system.
The contracts were awarded on Aug. 6, 2013 and are valid through June 30, 2014, with an option for renewal. All providers have the option to sub-contract with local child placing agencies in the retention and recruitment of foster families.
This was DHS' second attempt at a bidding process for private agencies to provide foster care recruitment and retention services. In April, DHS Director Ed Lake canceled the previously awarded contracts because of concerns over the prescriptive nature of the contracts, how the service areas were defined, and the process did not allow for provider input.
Although the previous bidding process was carried out faithfully in accordance with state purchasing rules, Director Lake believed the result of that effort would not fully achieve the goals DHS established and there were serious enough problems with the approach that it was better to restart the process than to continue on that path.
During this new solicitation process, DHS, in conjunction with the Office of Management and Enterprise Services (OMES) Central Purchasing, enlisted the aid of Dr. Dean Kashiwagi and his team from the Fulton School of Engineering at Arizona State University, in utilizing the Performance Information Procurement System, or PIPS, to initiate three phases of the procurement process: selection, clarification, and management by risk minimization.
In the selection phase, DHS conducted a blind evaluation to rate provider capabilities, past performance, and cost, and hosted interviews with each provider to determine their expertise. In the clarification phase, DHS worked with providers who were identified as experts in foster care to develop the project scope and identify any risks to successful completion of the project. In the management phase, contract performance will be results-driven with all parties being held accountable for their respective responsibilities.
For more information about the foster care contracts, follow this link to view the award information posted on the OMES Central Purchasing website:https://www.ok.gov/dcs/solicit/app/solicitationDetail.php?solID=692.
To learn more about how to become a foster or adoptive parent, visit the DHS Bridge Family Resource Center website at okbridgefamilies.com or call 800-376-9729.