Lake announces departure as Stitt appoints new DHS Director
Ponca City Now - June 4, 2019 9:11 am
“Serving at the will of the Governor, I have always understood the nature of this appointment. I support a Governor’s authority to select his or her own team and I am so grateful for the opportunity to have served in this vital role.” said Lake. “While I am disappointed about not being able to finish some important work, I am extremely proud of many accomplishments and the solid framework created at DHS which leaves the agency in excellent condition for the next administration. I will do all that I can to help ensure a smooth transition for the new director.”
During Lake’s leadership, he employed proven business process improvement methods to achieve more than $13 million in efficiencies and cost savings at the agency. Despite the worst state budget crisis the agency has ever faced, Lake redirected more than $170 million internally to support Child Welfare Services and Pinnacle Plan goals, while avoiding service cuts to other core programs across the agency.
In the most recent progress report from monitors overseeing the agency’s foster care reforms and the Pinnacle Plan, DHS achieved “good faith” ratings in 29 of 31 performance areas. This was the most positive report to date since the agency began reform efforts in 2012.
Under Lake’s leadership, DHS changed its operations dramatically by closing the two state-operated institutions for people with intellectual disabilities as well as the two large state-run emergency children’s shelters, focusing resources on community-based services and home-like settings.
Lake highly valued community partnerships and was known for continually saying, “DHS cannot do this work alone.” He actively sought support from multiple community foundations to fund innovative service programs the agency could not otherwise afford to create. Lake increased alliances with churches and faith organizations in support of foster care and adoption goals, privatized portions of foster care recruitment, and created a Tribal Affairs liaison position. Internally, he implemented the first-ever, agency-wide supervisory and management training programs.
Lake was notably the last DHS director hired by the Commission for Human Services and the first director to be appointed by a governor. The Commission hired Lake on November 1, 2012, following two nationwide searches. He was the first DHS director to hold a Master’s Degree in Social Work. Within days, Oklahomans voted to pass a state question which changed the state constitution and put the agency and the appointment of the director under the authority of the governor. Gov. Mary Fallin then reappointed Lake with Senate confirmation.