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

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.

On December 17, 2018, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and Liberty of Oklahoma Corporation celebrated the reopening of the Laura Dester Children’s Center with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The center will be a treatment facility for foster children with both a behavioral health diagnosis along with developmental delay.

Liberty will contract with DHS to operate the facility and has a similar facility for adults in Enid.


Open the annual report to see all of the OKDHS statistics, including child care licensing, adult protective services and child welfare.

Read the whole article

By Corey Jones

Tulsa World

An oversight panel has asked a federal judge to essentially order the Laura Dester Children Center closed by June 30, according to a news release Thursday from a national child welfare advocacy group.

The move follows the Department of Human Services announcement April 30 of a plan to stop operating as a shelter in September and transition into a treatment center for vulnerable children.

The Laura Dester shelter has been at the center of controversy over its continued operation as a children’s shelter despite a settlement agreement that outlines its closure after a 2008 federal class-action lawsuit alleged abuse of state foster care children.

Click Here for News Release

See News Coverage of the Transition Plan


For Media Inquiries, Contact:
Sheree Powell – DHS Office of Communications
Phone: (405) 521-3027
April 30, 2018

DHS Ending Use of Laura Dester Children’s Center as Shelter

Oklahoma City — The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) announced it will cease using the Laura Dester Children’s Center in Tulsa as a shelter for abused and neglected children in September, and will transition the facility into a treatment center for children with co-occurring intellectual disabilities, mental illness and extreme behavioral issues.

“We have been greatly encouraged by our ability to prevent new admissions to the shelter, the development of placement options for children with a variety of needs, and by the movement of 22 children from the center during the past month and a half,” said Ed Lake, Director of DHS. “By continuing to build on these concerted efforts, we are confident we will have placements identified and transition plans underway for the remaining 20 children at the center by September 1 and even sooner if at all possible. And we will continue our no-admissions policy for this duration.”

Over the past year, the center had become the placement of last resort for children and youth whom DHS could not locate placements for, typically those with involved intellectual and developmental disabilities, mental illness and extreme behavioral challenges. DHS has not placed a child or youth at Laura Dester since March 8.

DHS has been working for several months to develop new placement options for children with these higher levels of needs including more group homes, agency companion homes for children with intellectual disabilities, and family foster homes. DHS has also started the application process to obtain a targeted Medicaid waiver to serve children with intellectual disabilities in community homes. During the same time, more staff have been hired and trained to provide care for the children at Laura Dester and other measures have been taken to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents.

Children and youth with challenging needs and behaviors take longer to successfully transition into placements due to the level of planning involved. A transition plan must ensure all necessary services and safeguards are identified and in place, and the family or treatment provider is making a good connection with the child for long-term stability.

DHS is currently in a competitive bidding process to identify a qualified provider to operate a Medicaid Intermediate Care Facility for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF-IDD) using the Laura Dester Children’s Center campus. The goal is for the new ICF-IDD to be in operation by November 2018.