From the DHS Facebook page September 12, 2019:

DHS Announces 13% pay raises for frontline employees, calls for Oklahomans to apply for 550 vacant positions

DHS will fully fund pay increases within its FY’20 budget to bring frontline employees to par with peers in other state agencies.

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Justin Brown announced today a 13% pay raise for more than 3,700 DHS employees, of which more than 80% of the positions are in the agency’s 92 field offices and are on the frontlines of delivering services to Oklahoma’s most vulnerable populations.

The pay raises will bring frontline employee salaries up to par with their peers in other state agencies, and it will be paid for by consolidating 950 vacant and fully-funded positions.

After a thorough, year-long study conducted by DHS, the agency’s leadership determined that it will remove 400 vacant positions from the books, totaling $10.8 million in annual appropriations, which will fully fund salary adjustments without additional funding requests for the Legislature.

“The Department of Human Services is comprised of exceptional Oklahomans who work tirelessly to support the mission of serving abused and neglected children and seniors, single parents, those with developmental disabilities, and those struggling with homelessness and addiction,” said Director Justin Brown. “DHS is able to give frontline employees a 13% pay increase because of the Legislature’s investment in this critical agency over the past two years and the thought-leadership of my executive team and the governor’s office on how to best structure 6,500 employees to deliver the best outcomes for our customers. This is about taking care of frontline employees, paying them equal to their peers in other state agencies, and bolstering recruitment efforts to fill 550 vacant positions critical for meeting the agency’s mission.”

“I applaud Justin Brown and the leadership of DHS for digging into the details of their budget and assessing the needs of their agency to deliver customer-centered solutions,” said Governor Kevin Stitt. “DHS has identified a sound path to live within their budget while also giving frontline employees an earned pay raise equal to that of their peers in other state agencies. As DHS continues to cast a bold path forward in delivering critical services, I encourage Oklahomans to consider applying to join this mission-focused team as they work to provide Top Ten services our most vulnerable populations.”

“DHS has one of the largest impacts on the state as they support and help improve the lives of more than 1 million Oklahomans. The Oklahoma House of Representatives has been focused over the past few years on right sizing the agency and ensuring employees are best equipped and empowered to meet their mission. We are proud of DHS employees’ devotion to our state’s children, elderly and those most in need, and we applaud the thoughtful leadership of the agency to use existing resources to deliver matching peer pay,” said Rep. Kevin Wallace, Chairman of the House Appropriations and Budget Committee. “I want to specifically thank Tommi Ledoux, DHS HR Operations Manager, who has devoted her past year to developing the data and leading the research effort to make this pay raise possible.”

“I can’t thank the staff at DHS enough for the challenging work they do to help Oklahomans and their families, many of whom are often in crisis,” said Rep. Mark Lawson, chair for the House Appropriations and Budget Subcommittee on Human Services. “I am grateful that Director Brown values the men and women at DHS, and for his leadership in making this pay raise a reality. Being a Top Ten state starts with building and keeping a team of exceptional employees, and that is exactly what Director Brown is doing.”

“Today is a great day for DHS and their hard-working employees,” said Sterling Zearley, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Public Employees Association. “This pay raise shows Director Brown’s commitment to retaining and recruiting qualified, caring people to serve Oklahoma’s most-vulnerable citizens. We appreciate working with DHS leadership and the Governor’s office to make DHS a better place to work so the staff can focus on assisting our fellow Oklahomans.”

Roughly 550 critical, front-line positions remain vacant, and qualified Oklahomans can apply by visiting www.okdhs.org/careers.

Child Protection Coalition meetings are open to the public and typically are at noon on the second Friday every other month at Youth Services of Tulsa, 311 S. Madison Ave. The next meeting will be October 11, 2019.

We encourage you to bring a friend who is involved in the child welfare system, either as a therapist, attorney, educator, social worker, advocate, volunteer or student. We need those voices at the table!

Since we typically provide lunch, we’d appreciate if you’d call to let us know how many you’ll be bringing so that we can have enough food for everyone. Please call 918-779-4918 to RSVP.

The Child Abuse Network provides a collaborative and non-duplicated interagency approach to process and investigate child abuse cases. The centralized, team approach is designed from the child’s point of view to help minimize the trauma of child abuse investigation and promote the healing process.

Less Traumatic Investigation

Prior to the Child Abuse Network and the Children’s Advocacy Center (formerly Justice Center), children were taken from Department of Human Services (DHS) offices to police departments then to doctors’ offices in order to gather information on the reported abuse. To the child the investigation meant stressful examinations and repetitive interviews in cold, sterile facilities.

Now, CAN provides one, central location where the professionals come to the children. The centralized approach reduces the number of times children must repeat their story and helps them begin their healing process faster.

Readily Available Medical Evaluations

Through CAN’s centralized approach, an on-site medical evaluation by a child abuse medical expert is available for the first time in the State of Oklahoma as a standard component of child abuse investigations.

Read more about Child Abuse Network.

Watch the video

Family & Children’s Services Child Abuse and Trauma Services – also known as CATS – leaps giant hurdles to provide hope and healing to nearly 5,000 children each year who have experienced abuse, neglect or trauma.

One of CATS’ methods for helping children work through traumatic events is by having them draw and tell their stories. Through the power of storytelling, CATS children can find healing and the path to a brighter future. “The Life of Firestrike” is one such story – written and drawn by an eight-year-old client in the CATS program.

Family & Children’s Services was one of the Charter Members of the Child Protection Coalition, founded in 2003.

Nothing can really prepare a person for the reality of how bad child abuse and neglect can be. That’s something Justin Brown has learned so far on his 51 days as the director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

“There is evil in the world. There are bad people out there,” he said. “The agency is the first line of defense.”

Brown recently spoke to the Tulsa World editorial board about his vision for DHS. He was joined by Myron Pope, who was on the agency’s now defunct oversight commission and currently serves as the DHS chief of strategic engagement.

Read the rest of the Tulsa World article here.