The Edmond Sun

Opinion

April 8, 2014

Foster care system looking out for young children

OKLA. CITY — It has been said that you can judge a society by how it treats it’s most vulnerable members and a visit to the Juvenile Justice Center in Oklahoma City allows one to see how vulnerable children are treated in Oklahoma County.

In that facility several Oklahoma County judges preside over cases involving children who have been found to be neglected or deprived and removed from their homes and placed in foster care as a result.

Mike Evans, the Court Administrator of Oklahoma, recently reported that there are more than 11,000 children currently in foster care in the state of Oklahoma and that more than half of them are under the age of five. The state of Oklahoma is represented by the Oklahoma County District Attorney who has offices staffed by several assistants in the building. Oklahoma law mandates that the goal is to return the children to their parents if possible.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which also has offices at the Juvenile Justice Center, puts plans in place for parents of those children. Those plans are individually tailored for each case and often involve things such as parenting classes, courses on anger management and substance abuse counseling.  

Since many of the parents are homeless and unemployed, those programs sometimes mandate that the parents obtain employment and a residence. The foster care system operated by DHS is currently being restructured in accordance with the terms set forth in the settlement of a federal lawsuit that was brought against the department several years ago.

There are several attorneys who have contracts with the Oklahoma County Court to represent indigent parents and some of the children are represented by attorneys who volunteer at the court.

The cases are usually reviewed every 90 days. Rrepresentatives from DHS, the parents and attorneys who represent the children appear before the Juvenile Court Judge who assesses how the parents and children are doing. A written report is usually presented at the hearing, but efforts are now underway to insure that those reports reach the interested parties several days before the hearing date. Those reports indicate if the parents are complying with their plans and doing the things necessary to have their children returned to them and also tell of how the child or children in question are doing in their foster care placements.

If the DHS employee assigned to the case concludes that the parents are not making progress, he or she can make a recommendation to the court that their parental rights be terminated. If parental rights are terminated, the foster parents — particularly of young children — seek to adopt them and DHS often assists in that process.  

But many of the older children in the foster care system remain in it until they reach the age of 18, when they “age out” and the court no longer has jurisdiction over them.

It seems that all of the parties involved in the Juvenile Court of Oklahoma County are committed to doing what they think is best for the children involved.

WILLIAM F. O’BRIEN is an Oklahoma City attorney.

1
Text Only
Opinion
  • 'Too big to fail' equals 'too eager to borrow'

    Four years ago this month, President Barack Obama signed the Dodd-Frank Act into law, promising that the 848-page financial law would “put a stop to taxpayer bailouts once and for all,” he said. But recently, Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren told a Detroit crowd that “the biggest banks are even bigger than they were when they got too big to fail in 2008.”
    Who’s right?

    July 30, 2014

  • Sheltons travel for better life for family

    Some time around 1865 a mixed-race African American couple, William and Mary Shelton, made their way from Mississippi to east Texas. Nothing is known for certain of their origins in he Magnolia state, or the circumstances under which they began their new lives in Texas.

    July 29, 2014

  • Film critic Turan produces book

    Kenneth Turan, who is the film critic for National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition,” has written a book “Not to be Missed, Fifty-Four Favorites from a Life Time of Film.” His list of movies span the gamut from the beginnings of filmmaking through the present day.
    There are some surprising omissions on his list. While he includes two films, “A Touch of Evil” and Chimes at Midnight” made by Orson Welles, and one, “The Third Man,” that Welles starred in but did not direct. He did not however, include “Citizen Kane,” that was the first movie Welles made, that is  often cited by both film critics and historians as a favorite film.

    July 28, 2014

  • Logan County’s disputed zone

    Watchers of “Star Trek” may recall the episode from the original series entitled, “Day of the Dove.” In this episode, Captain Kirk and his crew are forced by a series of circumstances into a confrontation with the Klingons. The conflict eventually resolves after Kirk realizes that the circumstances have been intentionally designed by an alien force which feeds off negative emotions, especially fear and anger. Kirk and his crew communicate this fact to the Klingons and the conflict subsides. No longer feeding upon confrontation, the alien force is weakened and successfully driven away.

    July 28, 2014

  • Russell leads in Sun poll

    Polling results of an unscientific poll at www.edmondsun.com show that Steve Russell, GOP candidate for the 5th District congressional seat, is in the lead with 57 percent of the vote ahead of the Aug. 26 runoff election. Thirty readers participated in the online poll.

    July 28, 2014

  • Healthier and Wealthier? Not in Oklahoma

    Increased copays, decreased coverage, diminished health care access, reduced provider budgets and increased frustration are all the outcomes of the Legislature’s 2014 health care funding decisions. Unlike some years in the past when a languishing state economy forced legislators into making cuts, the undesirable outcomes this year could easily have been avoided.

    July 26, 2014

  • Medicaid reform a necessity

    Historically, education spending by the state of Oklahoma has been the largest budget item. This is no longer the case. In recent years, the state of Oklahoma spends more on Medicaid (operated by the Oklahoma Health Care Authority) than common education and higher education combined, according to the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Report.

    July 25, 2014

  • Remembering lessons from 1974

    This week marks the 40th anniversary of an important milestone in America’s constitutional history. On July 24, 1974, the Supreme Court voted 8-0 to order the Nixon White House to turn over audiotapes that would prove the president and his close aides were guilty of criminal violations. This ruling established with crystal clarity that the executive branch could not hide behind the shield of executive privilege to protect itself from the consequences of illegal behavior. It was a triumph for the continued vitality of our constitutional form of government.

    July 25, 2014

  • RedBlueAmerica: Is parenting being criminalized in America?

    Debra Harrell was arrested recently after the McDonald’s employee let her daughter spend the day playing in a nearby park while she worked her shift. The South Carolina woman says her daughter had a cell phone in case of danger, and critics say that children once were given the independence to spend a few unsupervised hours in a park.
    Is it a crime to parent “free-range” kids? Does Harrell deserve her problems? Joel Mathis and Ben Boychuk, the RedBlueAmerica columnists, debate the issue.

    July 24, 2014

  • Technology that will stimulate journalism’s future is now here

    To say technology has changed the newspaper media industry is understating the obvious. While much discussion focuses on how we read the news, technology is changing the way we report the news. The image of a reporter showing up to a scene with a pen and a pad is iconic but lost to the vestiges of time.
    I am asked frequently about the future of newspapers and, in particular, what does a successful future look like. For journalists, to be successful is to command multiple technologies and share news with readers in new and exciting ways.

    July 23, 2014

Poll

The runoff race for the 5th District congressional seat is set for Aug. 26. If the voting were today, which candidate would you support?

Al McAffrey
Tom Guild
Undecided
     View Results