Gaps in Oklahoma’s Child Abuse Registry Examined

A Senate interim study revealed Oklahoma’s child abuse registry has gaps and loopholes which could put children at risk. Senator A.J. Griffin requested the study.

The registry, called Joshua’s List, contains individuals who have been convicted of child abuse or neglect and individuals who were investigated by the Department of Human Services and abuse or neglect was substantiated but faced no criminal charges. Only providers and child care employees or potential providers associated with a DHS licensed child care program are eligible to be placed on the list. Unlicensed providers at state operated facilities are not included on the list.

“There are thousands of people who are falling through the cracks, gaining access to children.  We need to close those gaps,” said Griffin.  “I think that probably the most surprising thing we learned is that we currently are not checking the child welfare history of our own child welfare workers.  We’re allowing individuals who may have abused a child in the past to work in the child welfare division of the Department of Human Services.  We need to take care of that immediately.”

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee heard testimony from the chair of the Child Protection Coalition of Oklahoma and Tulsa Public Schools Director of Family and Community Engagement. Both are concerned about the loopholes and how it could end in tragedy for children.

Giffin said she and other lawmakers will be crafting legislation to close the loopholes in the registry.

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