There is a shift occurring, albeit slowly, in the agency charged with serving and protecting our community’s most vulnerable citizens. Tricia Howell, bridge deputy director for OKDHS Child Welfare Services, sees a leadership team that’s more open to problem solving and individualized care for each child and family. Powell notes a more supportive culture and a stronger workforce.
“For anyone who stays in this line of work, it’s way beyond a job to them,” said Howell. “Most of them are here because they feel called. They don’t put in just 40 hours a week. They may have plans on a Friday evening and something comes up, and there’s not any hesitation. You don’t have the option of telling a child or family ‘sorry, you need to wait.’”
Child Welfare Specialist Dashon Sampson finds great joy in helping teenagers develop permanent connections and discover their futures in school and employment. Osburn is still in contact with former foster children she’s helped, many now in college or having families of their own.
“So many of our teens just want somewhere to call home, a regular high school, to play sports and to go out with friends but because there are not homes available they don’t always get this luxury that so many take for granted,” said OKDHS child welfare specialist, Lynette Osburn.
At the end of the day, what’s needed are more foster families, and there are plenty of DHS workers like Osburn and Marissa Edstedt, child welfare supervisor in OKDHS Permanency Planning, doing their part, professionally and personally, to ensure one more child has a place to call home.
“My work with DHS greatly influenced my family becoming a foster family because I saw the need for more homes every day as children need placement,” said Edstedt. “Children deserve a safe place to sleep at night and a place to have their needs met.”
[Editor’s Note: To learn more about becoming a foster parent and find volunteer opportunities to support foster children, visit www.metrofamilymagazine.com/foster.]