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Some Oklahoma Group Homes Did Not Always Comply With State Requirements

Although the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (State agency) performed the required onsite monitoring at all 22 group homes, this onsite monitoring did not ensure that foster care group homes complied with State licensing and Federal requirements related to the health and safety of children in foster care. We determined that 17 of the 22 group homes did not comply with 1 or more State health and safety requirements. Specifically, we found that 12 of the group homes did not comply with transportation requirements; 12 of the group homes did not comply with building, utilities, and grounds requirements; 10 of the group homes did not comply with fire safety requirements; 4 of the group homes did not comply with food service requirements; 4 of the group homes did not comply with safety and emergency preparedness requirements; and 1 group home did not comply with physical facility and equipment requirements.

We note that certain issues of noncompliance found during our review can frequently occur between State monitoring visits. However, other issues of noncompliance represent a prolonged period of noncompliance and should have been corrected if those issues had been documented and resolved during the State's monitoring. These instances of noncompliance with health and safety requirements indicate that the State agency and group homes need to take additional measures to ensure that all issues of noncompliance are documented and resolved in a timely manner and that the group homes clearly understand what is required to safeguard and protect the children in their care.

The State agency completed background checks on all 229 of the employees at the group homes we reviewed.

We recommended that the State agency (1) ensure that monitoring staff document and resolve all issues of noncompliance of group homes in a timely manner, (2) require group home staff to complete specific training requirements related to health and safety regulations, and (3) revise the State licensing requirements for the monitoring of vehicles used to transport children to ensure that the State agency monitors all vehicles annually.

In written comments on our draft report, the State agency agreed with the first and second recommendations but disagreed with the third recommendation. The State agency did not agree that State licensing requirements need to be revised for the monitoring of vehicles. The State agency stated that licensing staff are trained to monitor vehicles annually and maintenance logs are monitored at each monitoring visit.

Filed under: Administration for Children and Families