Oklahoma boys home closing amid budget crisis

PIEDMONT, Okla. – An Oklahoma boys’ home is closing its doors after more than a decade of service.

White Fields is home to boys who have circumstances that are beyond what traditional foster homes can provide.

In a letter to volunteers and donors, executive director, Frank Alberson explains why the decision was made:

“Over the last 11 years, White Fields and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services has successfully collaborated to develop and deploy a strategy to care for some of Oklahoma’s most abused and neglected children. While we have seen great many successes in the children we’ve served, current day circumstances have diminished the impact we are able to have. We have experienced an increasingly challenging population that goes beyond typical D level care. Additionally, the required funding to operate a facility such as White Fields and to maintain the staffing ratios that are integral to the success of our program has been a major concern for years

While every dollar spent was worth the care we have provided to these children, we are unable to continue operating under the current arrangement. We have tried unsuccessfully to reach a mutually beneficial agreement regarding D level care state wide and the associated funding requirement through a public-private partnership.

With great regret, we announce that White Fields will cease to operate as a DHS contracted group home at the end of April. We appreciate your time and monetary donations over the years and helping over 100 boys from Oklahoma heal and become productive citizens.”

DHS says it has been in contact with White Fields.

“Well, according to what they’ve let us know, the care of the boys that they’ve been providing, the population of boys they’ve been serving has just become too difficult for them according to reimbursement rates they’ve been receiving,” said Sheree Powell with DHS.

Powell says White Fields is reimbursed $100 per day for some children and $134 per day depending on their needs.

“They’re in an environment right now where they’re all brothers,” said former volunteer JaNiece Cranmer. “They’re going with each other and they’re figuring this out together. And know they’re going, God knows where? To foster homes? To group homes? Nothing’s going to be comparable to White Fields, I’ll tell you that much.”

In a statement, Greg Dewey, White Field’s spokesman said:

“What we have done to date is cancel the Level D+ and C contracts with the state. As other facilities around the state have been closing the last couple of years, our client and mission shifted from rehabilitating the most abused boys in the state to housing children with mental illness. Obviously, the need is great for that child, however our model is not suited for a hospital setting. What we were proficient at was preparing the child who had already failed to qualify for foster care with an average of 18 failed placements, to live effectively in a forever family.

We attempted for years to have a larger private/public partnership to help care for the 100 most abused boys in Oklahoma each year but unfortunately could not get the required funding from the state. The Ward family and this board will continue helping the most marginalized and work will go on in some capacity on our campus, we are uncertain of the exact form that will take.”