Oklahoma City, Okla. - A report studying the Oklahoma Department of Human Services' role in the deaths of children from child abuse and neglect deaths was released Thursday morning.
DHS says the findings prove what the agency has been saying all along.
"It was very vindicating to have a committee like this study all of the facts and come up with their own conclusion 'that wait, this wasn't really happening,"' DHS's Sheree says.
A Special Review Committee's report disputes comments by legislators claiming around 50 children die a year in the care of DHS. Instead, the report shows around 12 kids died each year while in state custody.
“While our task was to review the work of DHS in the role of child abuse and neglect deaths, our Committee soon discovered that while DHS had some responsibility, the conditions leading to the children’s deaths were the results of multiple omissions and commissions by any number of many groups, agencies, individuals, conditions, and factors,” Wes Lane, chair of the 21-member, blue ribbon committee says.
While many of the findings turned out to be good news for DHS, the report shows there is room for improvement.
"Make no mistake about it,” Lane says, “we found clear areas where DHS must improve and make changes to its policies and procedures – and we note that many changes are already underway with the Pinnacle Plan. But what we ultimately have had to sadly recognize is that there are no sure methods to predict murder or to examine the circumstances in a child's family and be able to definitively predict what negative consequences will occur to those children."
Powell agrees and DHS is ready to make the necessary improvements.
"We have worked with the committee to start making those changes," Powell says. "It started even before they issued the report."