Based on questions Child Protection Coalition members had in 2014 regarding predictive factors of child abuse in Tulsa County, the CPC contracted with Dr. Jody Worley of the University of Oklahoma to conduct a research study. Is there a Predictive Model of Child Abuse and Neglect? addresses the most salient factors associated with child maltreatment in Tulsa County. Click HERE to read the Executive Summary of the study.

The research study was underwritten by the Child Protection Coalition.  Dr. Worley believes this is the most in-depth study performed to date in the United States comparing specific predictors to specific types of child maltreatment – neglect, physical abuse and sexual abuse.

Click HERE to view the study presentation.


The closure of the Laura Dester Shelter has caused some foster children to be removed from their homes to wait for hours in office buildings and cars at odd times while placements can be found, say Tulsa police and prosecutors.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services agreed to shutter the state’s two emergency shelters for abused and neglected children as part of the Pinnacle Plan, which is the improvement plan from a negotiated settlement agreement to a federal lawsuit approved in 2011. It began implementation the following year in many areas such as caseloads, worker pay, shelter use and number of child transitions.

Oklahoma City’s shelter officially closed in November.

Read the entire Tulsa World article by clicking HERE, published on January 12, 2016.

“We support the Pinnacle Plan and the shelter’s closing. Child welfare research shows that that children and youths recover better when placed in individual homes rather than institutions. For children with challenging behaviors, longer-term group homes are a better option.

But Dester should be closed when it’s safe to do so, not on the basis of an artificial schedule. The shelter’s resident count has dropped from 71 in August. The state is on the right path, but these things take time.”

Read the entire Tulsa World editorial – published on January 2, 2015 – by clicking here. 

The Child Protection Coalition relies on reports from DHS to inform professionals and the public regarding the state of child welfare in Oklahoma. Statistics on the CPC website can be found in the 2014 Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics report.

The report introduction reads, “The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is charged with the responsibility of promptly investigating or assessing all accepted reports of alleged child abuse and neglect by the person responsible for the child’s care. Persons responsible for the care of children are parents, guardians, custodians, foster parents, any other adults living in the home of the child, and operators, owners, or employees of child care facilities or homes.

DHS is further charged with maintaining a record of the investigation findings and assessment conclusions. Reports of all investigations are forwarded to the district attorney with recommendations for disposition.DHS Child Welfare staff work to provide maximum safety for children and to enable families to remain together, if at all possible. The majority of families that are identified through a report of abuse or neglect can be assisted through services from either community agencies or, if appropriate, through voluntary services from DHS. In serious cases of abuse or neglect, however, court intervention and removal of the children from their homes may be necessary. Removal of a child from his or her home can occur either through a court order or, in the case of an emergency, by law enforcement. DHS Child Welfare staff does not have the authority to remove children from their homes.
This statistical document for state fiscal year 2014 (July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014) reflects data on child abuse and neglect reports received and accepted for investigation. Also included in this document is an alternative category of response to reports, the assessment. Assessments are conducted when the allegation of abuse or neglect does not constitute a serious or immediate threat to a child’s health or safety. Investigations are conducted when the report contains allegations of serious threats to the alleged child victim’s safety.
This statistical document reflects the findings categories that are possible once an investigation has been completed.”

Read the entire report here: OKDHS 2014 Child Abuse and Neglect Statistics

In discussions surrounding the closing of the Laura Dester Children’s Center and other conversations about child welfare in Oklahoma, the term “Pinnacle Plan” is heard many times.

To review, a lawsuit was filed against the state in 2008 over the deficiencies in the foster care system. The result was something called the Pinnacle Plan.

Finalized in 2012, The Pinnacle Plan outlined specific goals Oklahoma DHS needed to meet to improve the lives of the children in state care.

To educate yourself regarding what the Pinnacle Plan includes, read it in its entirety here: The Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan.

“If you think your home is not big enough, it is. If you think you work too much, you don’t. If you think you’ll get too attached, you will. There is no reason that regular people can’t foster. You do not have to be a perfect parent. You just have to be a good enough parent, ”  said Nellie Kelly, who has fostered 15 children in 15 years.

Photo: Tulsa resident Nellie Kelly has fostered 15 children since 2000, four of whom she has adopted. Pictured above, left to right clockwise, are Sunshine, 6; Harley, 19; Judah, 12; Kelly; and Rosa, 11 months.

Click here to read the entire article published by The Frontier on December 27, 2015.

The DHS goal is to recruit 1,000 foster families by July 2016.

Katelynn Burns, DHS communications manager, said every effort possible is being made to raise people’s awareness about the need for foster homes.

Gov. Mary Fallin added the voice of the governor’s office to the urgent call to state residents to step up and help if possible.

“We are trying to bring in the business and faith communities to work together to solve the problem,” she said.

Currently there are 11,000 children in state custody and there is a continuous need for homes as the Laura Dester Home in Tulsa and the Oklahoma City Children’s Shelter are preparing to close.

Read entire Tulsa Business & Legal News Story here – published December 30, 2015.

The Laura Dester Shelter for abused and neglected children will remain open after the first of the year until all the children have found homes, according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Read entire Tulsa World article by clicking here – published December 26, 2015.