Sunday, September 18, 2011

OKDHS issues final termination notice to one of the child welfare supervisors in Serenity Deal case

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Jennifer Shawn, Child Welfare Specialist IV, was served with a final termination notice (.pdf, 54 pp, 2.32 MB) from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services late last week.  The notice details 67 allegations of policy violations and the findings of the administrative hearing officer.  The notice details Shawn’s failure to follow policy and procedures in the Serenity Deal case.

The Administrative Hearing Officer determined OKDHS met its burden of proof to show that reasonable grounds existed to believe Shawn violated policies relating to unsatisfactory performance, misconduct, willful failure, dishonesty, making false reports or claims, knowingly withholding information of official interest, and neglect of duty.

Shawn was the Permanency Planning supervisor who supervised the principal case worker in the Deal case.

“This notice demonstrates there were required practices in place that, if followed, would have given Shawn and other workers a clearer picture of Sean Brooks, his relationship with his family and other children, his abilities to parent, and his past behaviors and propensity to violence,” said Sheree Powell, OKDHS Coordinator of Communications.

“Child safety is first and foremost in every policy, practice, and training module for child welfare,” said Powell.  “These practices have been proven successful and give workers the knowledge and tools they need in evaluating child safety, assessing family functioning, and in determining a parent’s ability to provide a safe home for his or her children.”

Child welfare specialists and their supervisors are the “eyes and ears” of the agency and the courts. They are the front line in determining child abuse and neglect, the safety of children, the evaluation of families, and in testifying in court.  Workers must follow what they are trained to do, what policy requires them to do, and use good judgment and critical thinking skills.

The information revealed in this notice of discharge makes it very clear that there were appropriate policies and procedures in place that were not followed. The excuses being given by Shawn that she had too many cases do not explain disregarding information in front of her and making false statements.

The employee may appeal to the Oklahoma Merit Protection Commission.
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