OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Oklahoma Human Services has announced a “major milestone” in its Pinnacle Plan.

According to Oklahoma Human Services, the Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan is an improvement plan that aims to improve areas of the state’s Child Welfare System. The Plan works to enhance the ways OKDHS cares for kids in foster care.

Officials say in the latest co-neutrals commentary that reports the Plan’s progress, Oklahoma was applauded for being a “model child welfare system.”

“I want Oklahoma to be the most pro-family state in the nation, and I am proud of the leadership from Secretary Brown and Dr. Deb to make this a reality,” said Gov. Stitt. “Oklahoma’s recognition as a model child welfare system is a testament to the great strides our state and foster care system have made towards prioritizing kids and making families whole.”

According to the agency, it worked alongside the Plaintiffs and co-neutrals in 2021 to create a COVID Recovery Period Agreement to delay the assessment of seven COVID-impacted measures where OKDHS’ progress had been affected by the pandemic.

OKDHS says the majority of those measures concentrate on timely permanency for children after being removed from their homes or who have become legally free after their parent’s rights have been discontinued. These measures also focus on performance regarding the number of therapeutic foster homes available for children with behavioral health needs.

“Dr. Deb, Tricia Howell and the entirety of Child Welfare Services have worked tirelessly over the last decade to achieve this momentous milestone in the Pinnacle Plan,” said Justin Brown, Cabinet Secretary for Human Services. “I am grateful not only for their continued dedication to identify and remove barriers for the families we serve, but also to the leadership before them who began work on the Pinnacle Plan and planted seeds that are bearing fruit today. Our system is dramatically different than it was at the beginning of the plan; but our innovative, family-centered efforts will continue so we can truly serve families in the most effective, meaningful and impactful ways.”

Oklahoma Senate Pro Tem Greg Treat as well as Senator Paul Rosino are praising OKDHS for their Pinnacle Plan progress. Both Treat and Rosino have responded to the improvement as the latest report that spans January 1 through June 30, 2022 shows the agency had achieved considerable and sustained progress.

“Today is a historic day for Oklahoma and our ongoing effort to improve the foster care system in the state,” said Pro Tem Treat.

“To go from where we were around a decade ago to now being praised as a ‘model child welfare system’ is certainly something to be celebrated. I applaud the countless individuals who got us to this point. I also appreciate the current leadership at the Department of Human Services for recognizing their work to protect children in the foster care system is not done. I am confident with their ongoing work and commitment the remainder of the outstanding measures will be addressed in short order.”

“This report is assurance that the Department of Human Services has taken this seriously and have taken the appropriate steps to advocate and protect vulnerable children in Oklahoma,” said Sen. Rosino. “The agency’s openness, willingness to share information and continuous communications with me and my colleagues on the HHS committee has been commendable. Today’s news is not just great news for the agency, but for the children in their care.

Oklahoma Human Services Director Dr. Deborah Shropshire, has displayed her appreciation for OKDHS’ staff and their endless dedication to better serve Oklahoma’s children and families.

“We are celebrating this commentary because exiting these measures represents the tremendous work of staff across the state to improve outcomes for Oklahoma families,” said Dr. Deborah Shropshire, Oklahoma Human Services Director. “Still, we are relentlessly pursuing a system that serves all families’ unique needs in a way that is dignifying and brings hope for a brighter future. This work continues and also relies upon the incredible service of community partners and foster families who walk alongside the children and families we all serve together.”

The co-neutral commentaries as well as the agency’s reports can be found on the OKDHS website.