Ashli Sims, News On 6
ROGERS COUNTY -- Dozens of people are behind bars after a massive drug raid in Rogers County.
Law enforcement officials from three different agencies worked together to bust 64 people. But those accused of buying and selling drugs aren't the only ones paying the consequences.
When these people were handcuffed and put behind bars, they left more than a dozen children behind. Rogers County officials say 13 were taken into DHS custody.
"Safety is our first priority no matter what," Sheree Powell, a DHS spokesperson, said.
Powell said the agency doesn't release specific information about children taken into custody. She did say the agency looks at safety first and prioritizes placing children with relatives.
"We do look to find placements where it is safe for them to live with other relatives if possible. That's our first choice," she said.
DHS still will run a background check on relatives to make sure the child will be in a safe environment.
Powell says caseworkers could also try to place a child with someone they're familiar with: a relative, teacher or coach.
If those first two options don't work out, then children are taken into DHS custody. They will go to an emergency shelter or emergency foster home, while DHS continues to look for a kinship placement or foster family.
Powell says even if children are with family, the agency stays involved.
"Even if a child is not placed in DHS custody, if they're placed with a relative, we're still going to be there assessing the safety of the child no matter what," she said.
Powell said if the children of arrested parents are placed in protective custody, the parents wouldn't be able to regain custody of their children until the legal process takes its course.
If they're not convicted they still have to go through a process to get their kids back.