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 Oklahoma DHS Receives Pinnacle Plan Funding

 

We are excited to announce the Oklahoma Department of Human Services received necessary funding to carry out the Pinnacle Plan. As many of you know, the Pinnacle Plan was a part of the changes  Oklahoma DHS agreed to make to settle a class action lawsuit against the department.

 

We advocated for reforms to be made to the DHS system during the 2011-2012 legislative session for our Serenity Project. Serenity Deal died after being placed in the custody of her father.

 

$44 million in new funding will be allocated to Oklahoma DHS to continue the Pinnacle Plan implementation and reduce the waiting list for developmental disabilities services. The increase in state funds is intended to accelerate recommended changes  outlined in the five-year plan to improve child welfare operations.

 

The plan was to get $30 million in funding for each of the first two years. Lawmakers last year appropriated $25 million for the first year of the plan, which among other things calls for hiring more child welfare workers, recruiting more foster parents and moving away from caring for abused and neglected children at shelters. Oklahoma DHS Director Ed Lake said the extra money in the upcoming fiscal year would allow for changes to occur quicker than expected.

 

We believe the Pinnacle plan is critical to ensuring Oklahoma children in foster care are being better protected.

 

Bill To Eliminate Children First Program in Oklahoma is Dormant

 

Teenage girl depression

 

Representative Mark McCullough authored a bill that would eliminate the Children First Program, which serves low-income mothers. House Bill 1063 died in committee after members failed to take action on the bill this session.

 

HB1063 would have disbanded the Children First Program, returned Affordable Care Act funding it receives to the federal government and suspended three smaller home visitation programs until they can be audited.

 

State Health Department officials say the Children First Program saves lives and public money. The program – funded with local, state and federal tax money – sends public health nurses into the homes of high-risk, first-pregnancy mothers starting before their 29th week of pregnancy and lasting until the child turns 2.

 

To be eligible, women must live in a household earning no more than 185 percent of the federal poverty level, which is $28,693 for a family of two. In the home, the nurses work on a wide variety of things, including health issues for the mother and child, jobs, education opportunities, nutrition and child-development education.

 

A Health Department fact sheet on the program says the average cost is $3,464 per family served. The program made 33,460 visits to 3,547 families in fiscal year 2012, according to the program’s annual report. The report shows:

 

    • 81 percent of the mothers in the program initiated breastfeeding, compared to 67 percent of the mothers in the state’s general population.

 

    •  88 percent of the mothers made sure their children received all recommended immunizations at 24 months compared to 78 percent of the state’s general population.

 

    • 88 percent of the mothers received prenatal care in their first trimester, compared to 76 percent in the state’s general population.

 

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