Tuesday, October 18, 2011


WHO: House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee, House members who are reviewing the state Department of Human Services, DHS leaders, incoming DHS Commission Chairman Brad Yarbrough, and an Oklahoma Public Employees Association representative.

WHAT: Press conference to discuss strategies the House will use to improve DHS.

WHEN: 11 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 19

WHERE: Governor's Blue Room, 2nd Floor Broadcast Press Room, Room 432-B, State Capitol

Speaker Steele and other House members will unveil the House’s strategy to produce better outcomes for those who come into contact with DHS, particularly children in state custody. The representatives will unveil an aggressive, four-pronged strategy to improve DHS through significant reforms to governance structure, agency structure, personnel policy and resource allocation. Steele will outline plans to work with DHS officials, commissioners and others in effort to improve the agency and increase accountability.

STATEMENT: Speaker comments on Ahonesty Hicks

According to a report by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, 17-month-old Ahonesty Hicks died May 3 from abuse. In the weeks preceding Ahonesty’s death, DHS officials decided against removing Ahonesty from her mother’s custody despite knowing her mother had recently tested positive for PCP and been involved in a domestic dispute with her boyfriend. Ahonesty’s mother’s boyfriend has been charged with Ahonesty’s murder.

“Ahonesty’s tragic and untimely death is another indication of the need to reform the policy, infrastructure and delivery of services at DHS. These outcomes must end. The House has been and will remain fully engaged in working with DHS officials at every level of the agency to identify better methods to protect our children and all our vulnerable citizens.” – House Speaker Kris Steele, R-Shawnee
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