Oklahoma Department of Human Services

The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) is a state agency that administers a range of programs aimed at helping Oklahomans in need, including food benefits (SNAP); temporary cash assistance (TANF); services for persons with developmental disabilities and persons who are aging; adult protective services; child welfare programs; child support services; child care assistance, licensing and monitoring; and Medicaid (SoonerCare) applications and eligibility.

DHS was initially created as the Department of Public Welfare by a vote of the people in 1936. It became the Department of Institutions, Social and Rehabilitative Services in 1970 and was renamed the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 1980. Until 1987, Oklahoma’s state funding for public assistance programs came from earmarked sales tax revenues.

Currently, the Director of the Department is appointed by the Governor and serves at the Governor’s discretion. Dr. Deborah Shropshire was appointed as DHS Director by Gov. Kevin Stitt in January 2023.  State Question 765, approved by the voters in 2012, did away with the Commission of Human Services, which previously had served as the agency’s governing board. When the DHS commission was abolished, the Legislature put in place four citizen advisory committees to provide oversight of the department, but these committees were allowed to sunset and no entity currently provides oversight for the Department.

DHS had an overall budget of some $3.0 billion in FY 2022, of which $718 million was state appropriated funds.