The Norman Transcript

Election Coverage

September 24, 2012

SQ 765 will reform child welfare

(Continued)

NORMAN —

Terrell supports passage of SQ 765.

“I’m pleased that our elected officials are really taking a look at what’s going to make things better for our children,” Terrell said.

* A “yes” vote on SQ 765 will remove the Department of Public Welfare (now called the Department of Human Services), its commission and director from the state’s constitution. It will allow the legislature to create and direct the administration of a new department to provide for public welfare.

The bill’s author, Sen. Greg Treat, R-Oklahoma City, said the bill’s purpose is “to create a more transparent environment at DHS that is accountable to the legislature and the governor.”

Treat said the welfare department was created in 1936 in response to a federal mandate and change is long overdue.

“We passed legislation that only becomes effective if this (SQ 765) passes,” Treat said. “That bill recreates DHS in the Oklahoma statutes. It does not have a commission, but, rather, it has four separate advisory boards: one to oversee developmental disability issues, one to oversee child welfare issues, one to oversee aging issues and one is a human resources oversight.”

These umbrella advisory boards will replace the current commission if the state question is approved by voters.

The new system allows for more accountability, Treat said.

“It makes the director appointed by the governor and confirmed by the Senate,” he said. “We need to have a face on this issue that people can hold accountable. The agency has had unacceptable levels of failure in the past. There are wonderful people who work there, but the system has failed the people who work there and the state of Oklahoma.”

Treat said he worked closely with Sen. Sean Burrage, D-Claremore, the minority leader, and the appointments on the advisory boards reflect bipartisan input.

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