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DHS Supervisor in Deal Case Officially Fired

Filed by Michael Cross in Feature, Local News, News, Politics.
September 16, 2011

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A former Department of Human Services supervisor in the case of 5-year-old Serenity Deal who died last June says there are systemic problems with the agency.

Jennifer Shawn and her attorney held a press conference Thursday morning as she received a formal letter of her discharge.

Shawn wants people to know that children in Oklahoma are at risk under the current practice model at DHS.

She says case workers have 30 to 40 kids they deal with and a bad work environment.

“DHS intimidates and bullies their workers and they will continue to do so as an agency, that’s how they play. And, workers are expected to do insane amounts of work for these children.”

Shawn says recent studies have shown case workers should have between 15 and 18 children in their case load.

She also says a majority of front line workers are afraid to raise their voices and criticize their agency for fear of reprisals.

A product of the system herself, Shawn joined DHS in 2006 in the hopes of doing good things for children.

But, she says her opinion was altered when she became a supervisor.

“DHS as an agency tramples the parental rights of parents on a daily basis and does not make decisions that are always in the best interest of children. And, in fact, those decisions are based more on numbers and not so much on our children and what’s best for them.”

After the press conference, Shawn was presented with official discharge papers from DHS.

She actually learned she was fired 17 hours earlier, when a DHS communication person told a local television station.

Shawn’s attorney is planning a lawsuit against the agency and is asking for an investigation by the Oklahoma County District Attorney.

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