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Library: Policy

340:75-1-2. Child Welfare Services mission, purpose, scope, and legal base

Revised 7-1-13

(a) Mission.  The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) Child Welfare Services (CWS) mission is, with the aid and support of community partners, to promote safety, permanency, and well-being for Oklahoma families whose children are abused or neglected.

(b) Purpose and legislative intent.  The CWS purpose is to identify, treat, and prevent child abuse and neglect ensuring reasonable efforts are made to maintain and protect the child in the child's own home.  When this is not feasible, CWS provides a placement that meets the child's needs.  Per Section 1-1-102 of Title 10A of the Oklahoma Statutes, for the purposes of the Oklahoma Children's Code, the Legislature recognizes that:

  • (1) parents have a natural, legal, and moral right as well as a duty, to care for and support their children and such rights are protected by state and federal laws as well as the Constitution.  To that end, it is presumed that the best interests of a child are ordinarily served by leaving the child in the custody of the parents, who are expected to have the strongest bond of love and affection and to be best able to provide a child those needed qualities that make a child's life safe and secure.  Nevertheless, this presumption may be rebutted where there is evidence of abuse and neglect or threat of harm;

  • (2) a child has a right to be raised by the mother and father of the child as well as a right to be raised free from physical and emotional abuse or neglect.  When it is necessary to remove a child from a parent, the child is entitled to a permanent home and to be placed in the least restrictive environment to meet the needs of the child; and

  • (3) because the state has an interest in its present and future citizens as well as a duty to protect those who, because of age, are unable to protect themselves, it is the policy of this state to provide for the protection of children who have been abused or neglected and who may be further threatened by the conduct of persons responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of such children.  To this end, where family circumstances threaten the safety of a child, the state's interest in the welfare of the child takes precedence over the natural right and authority of the parent to the extent that it is necessary to protect the child and assure that the best interests of the child are met.

(c) Scope.  OKDHS is the designated state agency mandated to protect the child who is alleged or adjudicated deprived.  Child welfare services:

  • (1) are directed toward child safety, permanency, and well-being;

  • (2) focus on the family, defined as one or more adults and child related by blood or law residing in the same household, as an integral part of the child's well-being; and

  • (3) are provided to assist the parent develop protective capacities and ability to care for the child.

(d) Legal base.

  • (1) The Social Security Act of 1935 requires:

    • (A) each state make welfare services available to children; and

    • (B) child welfare agencies to provide for the protection and care of homeless, dependent, neglected, and potentially delinquent children.

  • (2) Oklahoma's Social Security Act enacted in 1936, authorized the Division of Child Welfare.

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