Initiates disciplinary actions, efforts to improve collaboration of services
Director of OKDHS
“Quinten’s death has been heart-wrenching for all of us at DHS and our deepest sympathies go out to his sister, Valerie Wood-Harber, and his brother,” said Ed Lake, DHS Director. “Ms. Wood-Harber deserves full credit and our appreciation for pushing the system--our agency, law enforcement, the school, and health care officials--to investigate the circumstances that led to Quinten’s death.
Ms. Wood-Harber refused to let her brother’s death be accepted as something unpreventable that occurred as a result of his disability,” said Lake. “Had it not been for her advocacy and persistence, the truth about what Quinten and his brother endured might never have been fully investigated. We hope that through discovery of the facts and the actions we are taking, they will have some peace going forward.”
Quinten’s death should not be in vain,” said Lake. “Just as we have done, we encourage every entity involved in this case to evaluate its response to children with intellectual and developmental disabilities who may be vulnerable to abuse and neglect. DHS has an important role to play in the child protection system, but not the only role.”
Upon reviewing child death cases, the agency takes into account all of the facts and the full context of cases, including the responsibility and the involvement of staff members.
“This agency will not rush to blame or scapegoat front-line staff when the facts show they have performed appropriately and have acted in good faith. We will not punish staff for system failures that are beyond their ability to control,” said Lake.
“I want to express special thanks to Kathryn Brewer, the Advocate General over the Office of Client Advocacy, for her untiring and passionate work on this case. Ms. Brewer deserves great credit for leading this internal investigation, collaborating with the family and law enforcement, not stopping until every stone had been turned in pursuit of the facts.”
Through this investigation, DHS has also identified areas within its own organization that the agency will strengthen to improve child protection, particularly when it becomes involved in cases with children with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
Some of these efforts include improving collaboration between its Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) and Child Welfare Services (CWS), beginning with child protective investigations and continuing through permanency planning for children in the foster care system. CWS is updating child welfare worker training to include more specific information about children with intellectual and developmental disabilities and services available. Also, DDS and CWS will work together to recruit families who have the desire to provide care for children with severe disabilities who enter the foster care system.