New Oklahoma Law to Speed up Foster Care System, Getting Children Into Permanent Homes

News 6 - June 20, 2023 6:37 am

Foster care advocates say a new law will shave the time it takes to get kids into permanent homes. Governor Kevin Stitt signed the bill into law this month. It sets a six-month period in which a jury trial must take place regarding parental rights.

“Kids right now are sitting in foster care longer than they need to,” said Sarah Herrian, the executive director of the Foster Care Association of Oklahoma.

Herrian said children in foster care have no choice where they are. Kids have no choice about the time they must wait for a permanent home.

“A child in Tillman County has been in foster care since he was three months old and is now eight years old,” said Sen. Roland Pederson, R-Burlington, on the Senate floor on March 23.

Foster care advocates are fighting to save precious time.

“So, SB 706 is really, really exciting,” Herrian said.

Herrian and her family moved from Los Angeles to help people in Enid.

“We wanted to be able to provide some of the same services that we were providing to the homeless in LA,” Herrian said.

She owns the Five80 Coffeehouse in town that helps pay that mission forward. However, her five children own her heart.

“Watching them go through the healing process is miraculous in itself,” Herrian said.

Not only does Sarah advocate for children in foster care. She’s a foster parent herself.

“I’m a foster parent,” Herrian said. “I’ve adopted five children from foster care, and they’ve changed my life.”

Herrian has pushed for Senate Bill 706.

“SB 706 puts a clock on when a jury trial has to take place,” Herrian said. “Foster care is so important to allow a child to have another chance.”

Herrian said it gets kids into permanent homes faster so they can finally have their choice. The chance to be a kid and heal from the time they lost.

“My kids mean the world to me,” Herrian said. “They are such little heroes in my eyes and have been through so much.”

 

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