Q: What is the Office of Client Advocacy?
A: The Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) is an independent OKDHS office that helps protect and advocate for the rights of OKDHS clients, such as people with developmental disabilities living in institutional and community settings. OCA also investigates complaints that a vulnerable adult client, such as someone receiving services for developmental disabilities, may have been the victim of maltreatment.
Q: Does the Office of Client Advocacy have any responsibilities with regard to abused children?
A: OCA investigates abuse and neglect allegations involving children in out-of-home placements other than traditional foster care, like group homes with professional caregivers.
Q: Is there a way to complain if a client is not getting good treatment from a caretaker?
A: Yes. OCA handles grievance programs for many types of clients, including children in the custody of OKDHS regardless of placement; youth in the voluntary care of OKDHS; foster parents approved by OKDHS; residents of the two resource centers in Enid and Pauls Valley; residents of the Robert M. Greer Center; former residents of the Hissom Memorial Center; and residents of group homes or those living in the community who receive services through the Developmental Disabilities Services Division. The grievance programs promote client safety and independence and delivery of OKDHS programs and services in a fair, honest and professional manner. Advocates in this office can assist you in filing a grievance.
Q: Can OKDHS clients file grievances?
A: Yes. OCA handles grievance programs for children in the custody of OKDHS regardless of placement; youth in the voluntary care of OKDHS; foster parents approved by OKDHS; residents of the two resource centers in Enid and Pauls Valley; residents of the Robert M. Greer Center; former residents of the Hissom Memorial Center; and residents of group homes or those living in the community who receive services through the Developmental Disabilities Services Division. Any of these clients may file a grievance with OCA. Advocates in this office can assist you in filing a grievance if you’d like.
Q: How do I get more information about OKDHS grievance programs?
A: Information about OKDHS grievance programs is available through the OCA Grievance Liaison, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 405-525-4850 or (800) 522-8014; or the Director's Helpline at 405-521-2779 or (877) 751-2972.
Q: May I get advocacy services from OCA?
A: The Advocacy Unit is authorized to provide advocacy services to the former residents of the Hissom Memorial Center in Sand Springs and current residents and those transitioning from the Northern Oklahoma Resource Center in Enid, the Southern Oklahoma Resource Center in Pauls Valley, and the Robert M. Greer Center in Enid. OCA may also provide advocacy services to other individuals who receive services through the OKDHS Developmental Disabilities Services Division who have a special short-term need for advocacy assistance.
Q: What do advocates do?
A: Advocates assist clients in expressing their choices and preferences, promote informed choices, assist with problem resolution and report allegations of caretaker maltreatment of clients. They also file grievances on behalf of clients, serve as authorized representatives in fair hearings, and visit clients in their homes.
Q: How do I request special advocacy assistance?
A: Those who believe they need special advocacy services may call the OCA Intake Unit, Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 405-525-4850 or (800) 522-8014 to request services. Information provided during the intake process is kept confidential and is reviewed by a supervisor. If OCA is able to accept the individual as a client, he or she is promptly contacted by an assigned advocate.
Q: What is maltreatment of a vulnerable adult?
A: Maltreatment may be abuse, verbal abuse, sexual abuse, neglect, financial neglect, financial exploitation or sexual exploitation. Oklahoma law protects vulnerable adults from actions or omissions by a caretaker which constitute maltreatment.
Q: How do I report maltreatment of a vulnerable adult or abuse or neglect of a child?
A: OKDHS maintains a 24-hour, toll-free abuse hotline at (800) 522-3511. Callers may also report maltreatment, abuse or neglect directly to OCA Monday through Friday, between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. at 405-525-4850 or (800) 525-8014, or they may call local law enforcement. Callers may remain anonymous.
Q: Are OCA investigative reports confidential?
A: Yes. OCA investigative reports, like many other OKDHS records, are confidential under state and federal laws and regulations. Information about clients is confidential and protected from unauthorized use. Only authorized individuals are given access to case records or provided information from those records.
Q: What can happen to a caretaker who abuses or neglects a child or commits maltreatment of a vulnerable adult?
A: In addition to any adverse employment action (such as suspension, demotion or termination), the caretaker may be prosecuted criminally and the caretaker's name may be placed on the Community Services Worker Registry or the Child Care Restricted Registry (Joshua’s List) maintained by OKDHS.
Q: What is the effect of having one’s name appear on one of these registries?
A: On Joshua’s List, individuals identified as registrants are prohibited from licensure, ownership, employment and/or residence in a licensed child care facility. Individuals whose names appear on the Community Services Worker Registry may not be hired by, contract with or serve as a volunteer for OKDHS.