New Accusations Filed Just As Oklahoma DHS Reports Progress
By Ashli Sims, The News On 6
TULSA, OK -- Oklahoma's Department of Human Services is praised by one group and slammed by another in the continuing story of the state's embattled child welfare system.
In a report released Wednesday, DHS says the number of children per worker is the lowest in years.
However, in court records filed the same day, the group behind a class action lawsuit claims DHS doesn't really know how many children its caseworkers are supervising.
They cite an example where DHS reported one caseworker was assigned 31 children, when the worker says she was really responsible for 60.
While most babies are delivered into the arms of loving parents, it seems like baby "G.C." was delivered into pure hell. The first accusation of abuse came when she was just six weeks old. When she was 3, a 13-year-old boy, who was living in her home, was arrested for sexually abusing her.
She was sexually assaulted by her biological father, raped by her step-father and his friends, and beaten with a wire hanger and water hose all before her tenth birthday.
But it's what happened to "G.C." after she was removed from her home that's fueling a class action lawsuit against Oklahoma's Department of Human Services.
"G.C." was taken into custody at nine years old. According to a child welfare expert who reviewed her file, "G.C." was uprooted every three months for the next four years and got a new case worker every 30 days.
Experts say that revolving door of case workers and whirlwind placements led to severe emotional trauma. "G.C." was placed in homes with histories of confirmed physical abuse, allegations of sexual exploitation and confirmed sexual abuse.
The expert who reviewed "G.C.'s" file reports the girl spent more than 75 percent of her time in DHS custody in homes and facilities where she was neglected and abused.
"G.C." ended up in a psychiatric hospital three times in as many years. A psychiatric evaluation reports "G.C." "began cutting herself in order to 'release the pain.'"
"G.C." was diagnosed with depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. Social workers recommended therapy. Appointments were made, but according to her case file no one at DHS made sure the traumatized girl attended counseling regularly.
The lawyers suing DHS want a judge to force the agency to turn over documents detailing caseloads, the agency's spending, and any plans for reform.
The child welfare agency told lawmakers Wednesday adoptions are at an all-time high. Children in custody are at the lowest levels in years, and the agency is making a lot of progress.