Make a Difference in a Child’s Life

Oklahoma is currently in great need of foster parents.

By: Lorrie Ward | Category: Other | Issue: March 2014

Director of Regional Recruitment Services Jason Cecil, TFI Family Connections.

Director of Regional Recruitment Services Jason Cecil, TFI Family Connections.

A little over a year ago, things changed for foster care in Oklahoma with the privatization of the system. Since that time, Department of Human Services has contracted with TFI Family Connections to recruit and retain foster homes in Oklahoma. But one thing has not changed: the urgent need for families to host foster children.
    “There is a huge, huge need for foster parents across Oklahoma,” says Jason Cecil, TFI’s director of regional recruitment services. Jason reports that in Rogers County alone, there are 85 kids in custody who have been pulled from situations of abuse or neglect and only 14 available, non-relative foster homes. Tulsa County has 1,500 children and only 233 available non-relative foster homes. “As you can see from these numbers, there is a huge gap between the number of kids needing homes and available foster families,” says Jason.
    DHS concentrates on keeping foster children within their own communities so that they can work with the biological families in order to reunite them. But because the state’s limited financial resources often make accomplishing this difficult, they contract part of the process to TFI, who recruits, retains and manages the foster homes, assigning workers to monitor the care children are given in the home. After background checks and home assessments are completed, foster parents are extensively trained through classes, and Jason reports that TFI will soon start a new series of classes soon. “We will go to the families wherever we have the best response,” he says.
    Jason wants people to know that foster parenting can be a remarkably rewarding experience, as participants can make a lasting impact in the lives of the children, regardless of how short term the stay. Mark Ogle of the Claremore area American Red Cross and his wife stand as testament to this fact. The Ogles were active foster parents starting in 1997 and continuing through 2010, when they took a hiatus as the demands of raising their children required their full attention. “We were active foster parents for 13 years and hosted 76 foster children over that period of time,” says Mark, who recalls that even though some of the children were only in their home for a short period of time, they all became like family. If potential foster parents feel uncertain about the process, Mark encourages them to give DHS, TFI, or the Rogers County Foster Care Association a call with questions and to take the foster parent training. “Going through the training helps families understand the process and answers any questions they might have,” says Mark.
    “Although my wife and I are not currently active foster parents with four children of our own at home, we plan on getting involved again in the future,” he adds. “It is one of the most rewarding things we’ve ever done.”

For more information, contact

TFI Family Connections

1-866-543-9810,
Ext. 3043

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