In The Know: DHS child welfare reform plan approved

In The KnowIn The Know is a daily synopsis of Oklahoma policy-related news and blogs. Inclusion of a story does not necessarily mean endorsement by the Oklahoma Policy Institute. E-mail your suggestions for In The Know items to You can sign up here to receive In The Know by e-mail.

Three out-of-state experts approved the so-called ‘Pinnacle Plan,’ proposed by OKDHS to reform the state’s child welfare system.  A State House panel will once again take up the issue of tax credits.  An OK Policy issue brief explained the critical importance of certain credits in supporting working families and children.  Business owners told legislators at a regional summit in Enid that the biggest barrier to growth in the northwest was workforce development – there aren’t enough qualified workers to fill open slots in the industrial and manufacturing sector.

An Edmond man suffered burns after two men scrawled a gay slur on the trunk of his car and then set it on fire.  The Enid News and Eagle urged leaders to stop delaying a decision on whether to close a state run facility for the developmentally disabled in Pauls Valley.  Oklahoma and 20 other states pressed U.S. auto manufacturers to produce more compressed natural gas vehicles.

OK Policy listed five aspects of Oklahoma’s social, economic, and political landscape that explain the persistence of poverty.  Some lawyers in the state have fallen victim to a new version of the ‘Nigerian scam,’ through letters claiming a referral from the Oklahoma Bar Association.  Gun sales have surged in the last few months.  Public schools in Oklahoma City and Tulsa are coping with a growing population of homeless students.

The Number of the Day is the incidence of unplanned pregnancies in Oklahoma among partners using contraception.  In today’s Policy Note, the Annie E. Casey Foundation released the 2012 KIDS COUNT Data Book for Oklahoma, with 16 different indicators to measure the status of children in four key domains: economic well-being, education, family and community, and health.

In The News

Oklahoma Department of Human Services reform plan approved

Three out-of-state experts on Wednesday approved a costly DHS plan to reform the state’s child welfare operations.  Under the wide-ranging, 47-page plan, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services will have to hire more child welfare workers, recruit more foster parents and move away from caring for abused and neglected children at shelters.  The experts called the DHS plan “a five-year road map of significant commitments” and “a bold new vision.”

Read more from NewsOK at

Oklahoma House panel formed to review tax credits

Economic tax credits once again will come under scrutiny by a special House panel.

An interim House of Representatives task force that met for five months last year suggested outlawing transferable tax credits and developing criteria for tax credits to meet, but the recommendations failed to advance in the session this year.  Failure to eliminate or reduce the tax credits also helped cripple attempts to lower the state’s personal income tax rate.

Read more from NewsOK at

Issues, concerns, suggestions: Enid hosts regional business summit

Business owners, legislators and members of regional chambers of commerce were asked Wednesday to give their ideas on what should be issues for discussion in the 2013 legislative session.  “We want to hear directly from the business owners and manufacturers in our communities, and hear their concerns and barriers to growth,” said Chad Warmington, State Chamber chief operating officer.

Read more from the Enid News and Eagle at

Oklahoma man suffers burns after vandals scrawl gay slur, set car on fire

An Oklahoma gay man says he awoke in the early morning hours on July 21 to the noise two men dressed in black and wearing face masks vandalizing his car — he said one of the suspects threw something in his vehicle that caused an explosion and fire, while the man other fled.  “The car just blew up, then he [the other masked man] took off too. In the instant I smelled gas, but I didn’t know if it was the flames that hit me or what it was,” he said.

Read more from the Gayly at

OCHS vote on futures of SORC, NORCE frankly has dragged on for way too long

Some look at the delay as a good thing, seeing Fallin’s actions as a change of heart from wanting to close both facilities, to possibly keeping them both open.  Others see it as more of the same, holding the facilities, their clients and their families hostage in a political game.  Whichever side you come down on, there has been a delay in the vote. We hope, though, this delay is not something that will drag on and on.  The situation needs to be resolved so everyone involved will not have that cloud of uncertainty hanging over them.

Read more from the Enid News & Eagle at

Gov. Fallin Pushes Auto Makers For Natural Gas Vehicles

Oklahoma and 20 other states are asking U.S. auto manufacturers to produce compressed natural gas vehicles for state vehicle fleets.  A request for proposals for affordable and functional natural gas vehicles is part of a multistate initiative announced in November by Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin and Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. Fallin announced the release of the request on Tuesday.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Five reasons poverty persists in Oklahoma

Today, one in six Oklahomans (or 16.9 percent) live in poverty and nearly a third of the state’s counties have a poverty rate of 20 percent or more. Even amidst rising tides of economic prosperity, poverty continues, from one generation to the next.  The reasons are varied and complex, but stem from the material effects of poverty’s central feature – difficulty meeting basic human needs.

Read more from the OK Policy Blog at

Oklahoma lawyers targeted by new version of ‘Nigerian scam’

A morped version of “4-1-9 fraud” (the “Nigerian scam”) is targeting Oklahoma attorneys, claiming referral from the Oklahoma Bar Association, sending bogus $86,000 cashier’s checks and has reportedly scammed “quite a few lawyers,” said Tulsa attorney Mac D. Finlayson.  The scam letter (being mailed out of Canada) begins, “Dear Counsel, I was referred to you by the Oklahoma State’s Bar Referral Services. We require a good Business Litigation Attorney for our matter, please advice (sic). We await your response.” – Geoffrey Hugh O’Donnell, Director, Rollco Pty Limited, Revesby, Australia.” Read more from the Tulsa World article at

Gun Sales Surge In Oklahoma, Nationwide

New figures show gun sales are up nationwide in the last few months; and there’s been another surge in the past few days due to a gunman’s rampage at a movie theater in Aurora, Colorado.  Sales are not only up across the nation, but right here in Oklahoma. A pawn shop in Durant told a television news station that it sold more guns in a half a day on Saturday, July 21, than it had in the last few years.

Read more from NewsOn6 at

Teen Homelessness Growing Problem In Oklahoma

The National Center on Family Homelessness says one in every 45 children in the United States is homeless, and that impact is being felt right here in our state.  If you take a look at some of Oklahoma’s biggest school districts – 5 percent of Oklahoma City Public School students are homeless, at Tulsa Public Schools, that percentage is four. But, there are almost 300 more students living in shelters in Tulsa than OKC.

Read more from NewOn6 at

Quote of the Day

Our biggest challenge is training workers for the jobs we have available here in the region.  It’s not a problem isolated to Enid. It’s the whole northwest quadrant of the state. We have more jobs available than we have people to fill them.

Jon Blankenship, President of the Greater Enid Chamber of Commerce, speaking with local legislators about the greatest concern for business growth in the region

Number of the Day

1 in 2

Unplanned pregnancies in Oklahoma occurred while partners were using contraception, 2008

Source: National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unwanted Pregnancy

See previous Numbers of the Day here.

Policy Note

Overall Child Well-Being in Oklahoma

This year’s revamped Data Book uses 16 different indicators to determine each state’s rank overall and in four key domains: Economic Well-Being, Education, Family and Community, and Health. Oklahoma’s children improved in only five of the 16 indicators, remained unchanged in two, and actually worsened in nine.  “As child advocates, we’re always excited when we see numbers get better in any area for Oklahoma’s children, especially when it comes to access to health care and educational opportunities,” Linda Terrell, executive director of OICA, said. “But we also remain concerned about the number of children living in poverty and whose parents lack secure employment.”

Read more from the Annie E. Casey Foundation at

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