Working as a Direct Care Specialist
The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) is to help individuals and families in need help themselves lead safer, healthier, more independent and productive lives.
OKDHS runs 2 emergency shelters for children, ages birth to 18, who have been removed from their homes due to allegations of abuse or neglect. The Laura Dester Shelter, located in Tulsa, and the Pauline E. Mayer Shelter, located in Oklahoma City, care for children temporarily until a safe home can be found for them. Many of the children have problems other than abuse and neglect. Some have disabilities, either physically or mentally. Some have emotional or behavioral problems.
The shelters employ temporary and full-time direct care specialists to provide day-to-day care for the children.
Caring for Children: Working as a Direct Care Specialist
No prior experience is needed for entry-level positions. Direct Care Specialist II positions require 1 year of experience working with children or adults in a treatment facility for individuals with disabilities or working with children or adults in a treatment facility for individuals with disabilities or working with children or adults in a residential or school setting. Vacancies are posted on the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' Human Capital Management Division Web site. Anyone who is interested must apply on-line.
Full-time staff work 40 hours per week. Temporary staff work every Saturday and Sunday and some weekdays. The shelters operate 24-hours-a-day.
All staff offered a position must submit to a pre-employment drug and alcohol screening tests. After successfully passing the drug and alcohol tests, all staff are subject to random drug and alcohol screening tests and to reasonable suspicion testing. A Mantoux Tuberculin test is also conducted when beginning. New employees receive 4 mandatory training classes including orientation, CPR, First Aid and the Mandt System.
Direct care specialists describe their work day
“There are no regular days -- each day is different. The residents are awakened in the morning, beds made, and they get dressed after clothes are found for each of them. They do their morning hygiene and then eat breakfast. During this time, staff has to make sure everyone has what they need -- toothbrush and toothpaste and washcloths. The staff makes sure they have everything they need at each meal -- utensils, drinks and condiments. We direct them about proper table manners. When school is out, we play games, organize playtime, do crafts and go on all types of outings. We are constantly monitoring their behavior and how they interact with each other. We may work with children who have a physical or mental disability, as well as one being on medication. Working at the shelter is definitely a challenge.” -- Alta Thomas, direct care specialist II
“I love to work with kids and this is a wonderful way to help children.” -- Sandra Brown, direct care specialist II
“The most rewarding part of this job is knowing I am doing everything I can to make the residents feel safe in an unfamiliar place. The challenging part is the fact that I have to be considerate of the children’s situation and treat them with love and respect, regardless of their behavior.” -- Edwina Polk, direct care specialist IV
“You see a lot of bad things done to kids that you can’t talk about when you go home. You hold a kid when he is crying and hurt. You get to know that you have helped a child in a bad time of her life.” -- Pat Rowe, direct care specialist IV
Full-time employees who work for OKDHS receive the following benefits:
- Health, dental and vision insurance;
- Life insurance;
- Disability insurance;
- Annual leave;
- Sick leave;
- Paid holidays;
- Longevity pay; and
Those interested in a temporary position may apply directly to the following locations:
- Laura Dester Shelter
619 S. Quincy
- Pauline E. Mayer Shelter
5909 N. Classen Ct.
How to apply:
Visit the Office of Management and Enterprise Services' Human Capital Management Division Web site at http://www.ok.gov/opm (link opens in new window) and click on OKCareers (Link opens in new window) to view current job announcements for specific locations. Complete the application online. Applicants will be notified by e-mail of the deadline for completing the required merit test to be eligible for consideration.