Children’s Rights’ Founder and Executive Director Marcia Robinson Lowry sat down with Tulsa World reporter Ginnie Graham to talk about the reasons behind Children’s Rights’ legal action to reform Oklahoma’s foster care system and what U.S. District Judge Gregory Frizzell’s approval of the settlement agreement will mean for abused and neglected kids in Oklahoma.
The result of their conversation is Graham’s compelling and informative article Children’s Rights nonprofit: DHSsettlement raises hope for welfare of Oklahoma foster children, published shortly after Judge Frizzell signed off on the settlement agreement to fix foster care.
“I think what is going to happen now will be amazing. It’s a wonderful settlement. There is a real sense in the community that the time has come to do something,” Lowry told the reporter.
In her article, Graham chronicles the history of Children’s Rights’ fight to improve the lives of Oklahoma’s foster children, and explores the tremendous resources, time commitments and local support needed to reach the settlement.
Children’s Rights has been supported in its efforts by local co-counsel Frederic Dorwart Lawyers, attorney Paul DeMuro and six Oklahoma advocates who worked with the children named in the original complaint. “We are not standing by ourselves,” Lowry told the reporter.
Before Children’s Rights decided to embark on the reform campaign, staff reviewed the dismal data showing how Oklahoma served its vulnerable kids. When staff reached out to local child advocates to learn more about the deficiencies in the system, “We were asked pretty quickly, ‘What took you so long to get here?’” Lowry told Graham.
The advocates and the data told the same story. Children stay too long in shelters when they should be in family environments. Kids move too many times between foster care placements. Caseworkers are spread thin by overwhelming caseloads. And, this is just a mere sampling of the system’s problems.
In her piece, Graham also delves into Lowry’s early career spent representing foster kids in court, and gives Lowry the opportunity to talk about what compelled her to create and lead the advocacy organization that has proved failing child welfare systems not only can be fixed, but can be made to run well.
Lowry told the reporter that she still keeps in touch with some of the foster teens she represented in her early years. “So many of these kids who look like they are absolutely hopeless are people who actually have so much to them,” Lowry said.
To read the Tulsa World article, and learn more about what went into Children’s Rights’ fight for Oklahoma’s kids, click here: Children’s Rights nonprofit: DHS settlement raises hope for welfare of Oklahoma foster children.