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Oklahoma agrees to extend timeframe for foster care reform

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OKLAHOMA CITY – Child welfare experts who are monitoring implementation of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ plan to improve its foster care system have agreed to extend the timeline to fully implement proposed changes.

DHS settled a class-action lawsuit in 2012 that alleged the agency victimized foster children and agreed to make improvements in the system. The settlement agreement established an ambitious five-year plan known as the Pinnacle Plan to increase the number of foster families and caseworkers, reducing caseworker workloads and cut the rate of abuse.

DHS Director Ed Lake said Tuesday the state has invested more than $150 million to improve the system and has added more than 800 caseworkers. But Lake says the Pinnacle Plan’s timelines and initiatives were overly optimistic considering the challenge of implementing all the improvements.