OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) — A company that provides services for youth homes in Oklahoma is terminating its contracts with the state.
White Fields announced plans to terminate their Piedmont group home contracts with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, which will take effect at the end of April, The Oklahoman reported. White Fields board member Greg Dewey said the decision was due to a major shift in the types of children DHS is sending to the organization.
"We are not set up to help the type of child we are being sent," Dewey said. "We have moved from a treatment facility to a housing facility and that was not the mission we set out to accomplish."
Dewey said White Fields was established to help severely abused children, but the DHS is now sending children who are mentally ill. He said treating children with mental illnesses would require more money.
The department has forced some group home closures because of quality care issues, but most have closed voluntarily, often citing their struggles to care for increasingly difficult children without an increase in compensation.
Tom Bates is the special adviser to Gov. Mary Fallin on child welfare matters. He said closure of some mental health facilities due to funding issues has forced children into the DHS system.
Department spokeswoman Sheree Powell said any loss of group beds makes "placing higher-needs kids" more difficult.
"That's the challenge that we're facing right now," Powell said.