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.

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services settled a class action, civil rights lawsuit against its foster care system by agreeing to make improvements in targeted areas of the state’s Child Welfare system. As part of this settlement agreement, DHS has developed an improvement plan, called the Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan, which will guide the agency in the years ahead as it works to make improvements in the way it cares for children in foster care.

Read the latest report by the co-neutrals

Dr. Myron Pope named Chief of Strategic Engagement

Dr. Myron Pope has been named Chief of Strategic Engagement for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). Pope most recently served as Vice President for Student Affairs at the University of Central Oklahoma in Edmond and is a former member of the Human Services Commission.

“I was a commissioner for DHS during its last year of existence and I served as the chair of the Administration Citizens Advisory Panel,” said Pope. “These experiences, in addition to collaborative efforts with DHS in other capacities, provide me with a broad sense of the agency and its operations. I look forward to continuing to gain more knowledge in this role so that I can support the organization’s initiatives to better serve the state’s citizens.”

Pope has more than 25 years’ experience working in higher education where he served in executive roles and led initiatives to build collaborative partnerships and enhance legislative outreach. His background in governmental relations and his work with advocacy groups will bolster the agency’s goals of transparency, accountability and customer service. Pope will utilize his experience in effective outreach to strengthen engagement with DHS providers and stakeholders and his marketing and communications plan includes a more strategic and enhanced use of social media.

“DHS is an organization that delivers services across a broad spectrum of the population of Oklahoma,” said Pope. “I will provide leadership in the area of engagement with our various customers and communities across the state while also expanding upon the partnerships that are so critical for DHS to achieve its goals.”

A native of Sweet Water, Alabama, Pope played football at the University of Alabama where he was a member of the 1992 national championship team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and a master’s and Ph.D. in higher education administration. Pope has served on many boards including the Edmond Chamber of Commerce, Teacher’s Retirement System of Oklahoma, Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, Oklahoma Blood Institute and the Urban League of Greater Oklahoma City. In addition, he has volunteered as a board member for the YMCA and HOPE Center of Edmond.

Pope begins his duties August 1.

Traylor Rains named new DHS Chief Operating Officer

 Oklahoma Department of Human Services Director Justin Brown has named Traylor Rains Chief Operating Officer for the agency.

“I am honored and excited to join the team at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services,” said Rains. “My previous experience in the health and human services sector has reinforced my commitment to creating opportunities for success for all Oklahomans. I look forward to working alongside each and every dedicated DHS employee, as well as with our community and tribal partners, to provide the best services possible to Oklahoma families and children.”

As Chief Operating Officer, Rains serves in a leadership role guiding agency programs including Adult and Family Services, Child Welfare, Child Support Services, Child Care Licensing, Adult Protective Services, Aging Services and Developmental Disability Services.

“Traylor’s experience in public policy and passion for serving others is essential to improving customer outcomes,” said Brown. “He brings a strategic vision and heart that will help take DHS to the next level of developing strong families and creating an engaged workforce.”

Traylor Rains named DHS Chief Operating Officer

A 2004 graduate of Baylor University Law School, Rains has served Oklahoma families and children in various roles including Assistant Director of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) policy for the Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Senior Director of Policy and Provider Regulation for the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Rains also served as Interim Executive Director of the Central Oklahoma Community Mental Health Center in Norman, Oklahoma.

Ledoux named Chief of Innovation for DHS

Jami Ledoux has been named Chief of Innovation for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS). Rising through the ranks of DHS from a front-line worker recognized for her quality practice and engagement with families to the Director of Child Welfare Services, Ledoux has demonstrated a commitment to continuous quality improvement.

 “I’ve spent my entire career serving kids and families who have experienced trauma,” said Ledoux. “I’m excited for this new role and the direction of our organization to find and implement practices focused on preventing trauma. In this way, we will create a platform to elevate the voices of our customers and transform the ways in which we serve them.”

Ledoux has more than 18 years of human services experience. In each of her progressively responsible roles, she has remained focused on improving the quality of service for vulnerable Oklahomans by developing strategies to better serve them. Ledoux is skilled at engaging and sustaining important relationships with stakeholders and staff to inform and improve practice at all levels of the agency. Her most recent role as Senior Director of the Technical Assistance Unit of Casey Family Programs has given her unique insight into the practice models of other states.

“I learned so much while at Casey Family Programs,” said Ledoux. “In this new role, I’ll be able to leverage what I’ve learned through my work with many agencies across the country to identify innovative strategies to improve outcomes for our customers.”

“Jami shows great expertise in process improvement and using data and customer input to inform our practice,” said DHS Director Justin Brown. “She has a heart of service and a dedication to improving our work for the betterment of our customers.”

Ledoux holds a bachelor’s degree in social work and a master of social Work from the University of Oklahoma. She has served as adjunct faculty and practicum supervisor for undergraduate and graduate students of OU’s School of Social Work as well as serving on advisory boards of the Center for Child Welfare Data and Children Need Amazing Parents (CHAMPS) campaign. Ledoux received the Casey Excellence for Children Award for leadership in 2018.

Ledoux will begin her duties Aug. 12.

Galloway named Chief of Staff

Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) Director Justin Brown has named Samantha Galloway Chief of Staff. Galloway most recently served as Executive Director of Oklahoma Community-based Providers (OCP), the statewide association of providers who serve Oklahomans with developmental disabilities.

“Samantha’s skill set is unrivaled, and the fact that she is driven to use these skills for the benefit of those in the most need is a testament to her high moral code and her selfless approach to service,” said Brown. “The agency is honored to have her depth of experience to serve alongside thousands of other dedicated team members, and we are all undoubtedly stronger and better positioned to help those in need because of her commitment to DHS.”

Galloway is a familiar face at DHS. She began her career in 2005 as a Developmental Disabilities Services (DDS) case manager before serving as DHS legislative liaison until 2016.

“My career has been spent almost exclusively in human services,” said Galloway. “Returning to DHS is truly like coming home for a season. The work we do each and every day at DHS must be focused on the person we are serving, whether it is a person with a developmental disability trying to live and work in their community, a family in need of support towards stabilization, a child in need of protection, or a senior in need of supports to remain safe and healthy in their home. We are here for service, period.”

Galloway provides strategic counsel about agency priorities with an emphasis on transparency and customer service. She works with Director Brown to implement successful outcomes and strengthen relationships with DHS providers who help the agency serve vulnerable Oklahomans.

“I have had the pleasure of spending a considerable amount of time with Justin as he prepared to become the new DHS Director,” said Galloway. “It was through those interactions that I became fully confident that he has the competency and heart to lead DHS.”

Galloway is a past Executive Director of Washington (Parish) Economic Development in Bogalusa, Louisiana and former Director of Community Services at the Center of Family Love in Okarche, Oklahoma.
She earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech Communication from Southeastern Louisiana University. Galloway began her duties as Chief of Staff June 17.

Meet Dr. Deb Shropshire, the newly named Director of Child Welfare for the Department of Human Services.

Dr. Shropshire is a pediatrician with OU Children’s Physicians in Oklahoma City. 

She has held many roles at DHS, including medical director for Child Welfare Services and Deputy Director of Child Welfare Community Partnerships.

She is an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine. From 2001 to 2015, she was also medical director at the former Pauline E. Mayer Children’s Shelter and helped develop the Fostering Hope Clinic for children in foster care, reviewed individual cases with child welfare caseworkers, helped develop policy and caseworker training, and served on the Special Review Committee on child abuse and neglect deaths.

Shropshire is the recipient of multiple local and national awards, including the 2014 National Ray Helfer Award for Child Abuse Prevention from the National Alliance on Children’s Trust and Prevention Funds and the 2007 Commissioner’s Award for Outstanding Service in the Field of Child Abuse and Neglect from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Children, Youth and Families.

Read the press release from OKDHS.

On June 4, 2019, Gov. Kevin Stitt announced that he had appointed a new director to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Justin B. Brown has served as the Chief Executive Officer of Choice Capital Partners since 2008. He joined Choice Capital Partners, the ownership entity for Villagio Senior Living, following an eight-year career in healthcare finance.

During his banking career, Brown was involved in financing a range of healthcare entities across all industry segments, including seniors housing. For Choice Capital Partners, Brown directly manages all capital needs, acquisition and development strategies, investor relations, and directs the company’s core business strategy.

Additionally, Brown plays a role in programming and resident satisfaction, community design and development, and improved quality of life.

Brown also serves on the Board of Directors for the Alzheimer’s Association, the Children’s Hospital Foundation, and the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. He and his wife, Kelly, have been married for 18 years and have two children, Hannah and Ford.

Read more about Justin Brown’s appointment.