DHS Officials Outline Transition Plan For Children's Shelter Closure

Friday, May 15th 2015, 3:10 pm
By: News On 6

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services has announced its plans to close Tulsa's Laura Dester Children's Shelter and transition the kids into placement.

The plans were outlined in a public meeting on Friday. Plans are to gradually reduce the capacity to 35 and conduct placement staffing.

By August, the agency says the goal is that no more admissions will be accepted. By October, the agency says all kids will be placed and the shelter will close.

2/5/2015 Related Story: Nonprofit Helps Tulsa Kids Get Ready For Transition When Shelter Closes

In placing the children, the staff will look into specific needs of children, taking into consideration why they came into the system, officials said.

Aside from closing the shelter, DHS said it is taking additional steps into placing children into foster care, including: Establishing a statewide resource hotline by summer; working with contract foster care agencies to identify vacancies in homes statewide; diligent search/family finding; partnership with Youth Services agencies to develop clear vision for the future, foster family recruitment and placement staffing; joint protocol with law enforcement.

"Every child deserves a family setting if that's what we can do, that's our goal," OKDHS director Ed Lake said. "But we're not going to hurry to place children inappropriately. That's already occurring, we don't want to repeat those mistakes."