Skip to main content

Library: Policy

340:2-3-47. Grievances of minors being served by Child Welfare Services

Revised 9-15-21

(a) Application.  This Section describes grievance processes relating to children being served by Child Welfare Services (CWS).

(b) Definitions.  The definitions in Oklahoma Administrative Code (OAC) 340:2-3-2 apply to this Section unless the context clearly indicates otherwise.

(c) Notice of grievance rights.  Written notice of the child being served by CWS's grievance rights is provided to each child being served by CWS when services commence and at least annually thereafter, and to any foster placement when the child enters placement and at least annually thereafter.  • 1  The notice explains the child being served by CWS’s right to grieve and, when applicable, identifies the relevant local grievance coordinator (LGC).

(d) Grievance defined.  Per Section §1-9-120 of Title 10 A of the Oklahoma Statutes (10A O.S. § 1-9-120), each child being served by CWS has the right, without fear of reprisal or discrimination, to present grievances with respect to the providing or receiving of services.

(1) Grievable issues.  Except for the limitations listed in (d)(2) of this Section, matters that are grievance subjects include:

(A) the substance or application of any written or unwritten policy or rule of Oklahoma of Human Services (OKDHS) or an OKDHS agent, per 10A O.S. § 1-9-112;

(B) any decision or action by an OKDHS or child-placing agency employee or agent; or

(C) denial of any right included in the statement of rights, per 10A O.S. § 1-9-119.1.

(2) Non-grievable issues.  When it is determined by the Office of Client Advocacy (OCA) the child being served by CWS is asking to grieve a problem or concern covered in OAC 340:2-3-45(c)(2) or by any of the categories listed in (A) through (C) of this paragraph, the OCA Grievance Unit must notify the child being served by CWS, in writing, why the grievance is not being processed.  In addition to OAC 340:2-3-45(c)(2), situations that are not grievable by children being served by CWS under the grievance system are:  • 2

(A) a court decision;

(B) findings of a child abuse and neglect assessment or investigation; and

(C) a complaint alleging retaliation by an OKDHS employee.  When retaliation is alleged, the complaint is forwarded to the OCA Investigations Unit for review and disposition.

(3) Retaliation or discrimination allegations.  Retaliation, harassment, or discrimination allegations, per OAC 340:2-3-38(b), are processed, per that Section.  All other discrimination allegations are referred the OKDHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) and, the Grievance Unit forwards the complaint to the OKDHS OCR administrator, and informs the child being served by CWS in writing.

(e) Grievance filing and processing.  A grievance filed by a child being served by CWS is processed as provided for in this Section.

(1) Grievances of children being served by CWS are filed with the Office of Juvenile System Oversight of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.  Dispute resolutions for children being served by CWS must be accomplished quickly, informally, and at the lowest possible level.

(2) A grievance may be filed by:

(A) any minor being served by CWS; or

(B) anyone interested in the minor's welfare, such as a parent, staff, foster parent, child's attorney, or court-appointed special advocate.

(3) When a grievance is filed by someone other than the child being served by CWS and the child being served by CWS is of sufficient age to express his or her own preferences, OCA staff contacts him or her to determine whether he or she wants the grievance to continue.  When the child being served by CWS does not want the grievance to continue, the grievance is withdrawn and the file is closed.

(4) Grievances for children being served by CWS must be filed within 45-calendar days of the event.  For a grievance to be considered valid, a complaint must be timely filed online, by phone, or by paper form.  • 1  When a course of misconduct is alleged, by a child being served by CWS, the grievance must be filed within 45-calendar days of the most recent occurrence in the course.

(5) After the grievance procedure is completed, a child being served by CWS or former child being served by CWS has a right of access to the record of grievances he or she filed.

(6) Grievances of children being served by CWS are deemed timely-resolved within no more than 60-calendar days of the complaint filing date.

(f) Informal resolution of grievance.  The informal resolution of grievances is encouraged.  To that end, when a grievance is filed by, or on behalf of a child placed in a:

(1) foster home, the grievance is initially forwarded to the involved child’s worker.  When the worker can promptly resolve the grievance, he or she notifies the OCA Grievance Unit of the resolution details and the file is closed.  When the worker cannot promptly resolve the grievance, he or she informs the OCA Grievance Unit of the same and the grievance proceeds to the initial resolution level; or

(2) facility, group home, or shelter, the grievance is initially processed by the LGC.  When the LGC is able, without further processing, to promptly resolve the complaint to the grievant's satisfaction, the LGC documents this fact at the bottom of the grievance form, signs the form, and files it in the appropriate grievance file.  When the LGC cannot promptly resolve the grievance, he or she informs the OCA Grievance Unit of the same and the grievance proceeds to the initial resolution level.

(g) Initial resolution level.

(1) Within three-business days of the grievance's processing from the informal resolution stage, the OCA Grievance Unit identifies the initial resolution respondent and submits the grievance and supporting documentation to him or her.  • 3

(2) The OCA Grievance Unit monitors the respondent for a timely response.  Within three-business days following receipt of the grievance from the OCA Grievance Unit, the initial resolution respondent reviews the grievance, interviews the child being served by CWS and any other necessary persons, prepares a proposed resolution, and submits the proposed resolution on OKDHS letterhead to the OCA Grievance Unit.  When requested, and upon a showing of good cause, the OCA Grievance Unit may grant an extension of relevant due dates to the initial resolution respondent.  When a timely response is not received, the OCA Grievance Unit may proceed to first elevation.  • 4

(3) Within three-business days following receipt of the initial respondent’s proposed resolution, the OCA Grievance Unit or designee sends written notice to the decision-maker containing the proposed resolution and information on the right to elevate the grievance when dissatisfied with the proposed resolution.

(4) The decision-maker has three-business days to accept or reject the proposed resolution.  Failure to respond to the proposed resolution is deemed acceptance of the resolution.  When the decision-maker rejects the respondent's resolution at the initial resolution level, the grievance proceeds to first elevation unless the decision-maker requests mediation.  • 5

(h) Mediation for children being served by CWS.  When the decision-maker rejects the respondent’s proposed resolution, the decision-maker may request grievance mediation.  • 6

(1) When the decision-maker chooses not to request mediation after rejecting the respondent's proposed resolution, the grievance proceeds to first level elevation process.

(2) When the decision-maker requests mediation, all deadlines are suspended while mediation is ongoing.  When the decision-maker requests an extension in order to pursue mediation, the OCA Grievance Unit must grant the requested extension.  The grievance is not processed until the mediation is completed, and grievance timeframes are suspended for the duration of the mediation.  When mediation resolves the original grievance, the decision-maker may withdraw the grievance or the OCA Grievance Unit may declare the grievance administratively resolved.  When a decision-maker grieves and requests mediation of the dispute before filing a grievance alleging retaliation, the OCA Grievance Unit computes deadlines from the date mediation concluded.

(3) When the grievance is not resolved through mediation, it proceeds to first elevation.

(i) First elevation.

(1) Within three-business days after the grievant requests a first elevation, the OCA Grievance Unit identifies the first elevation respondent and submits the complaint and supporting documentation to him or her.  • 7

(2) The OCA Grievance Unit monitors timely response by the first elevation respondent.  Within five-business days following receipt of the grievance from the OCA Grievance Unit, the first elevation respondent reviews the grievance, interviews the child being served by CWS and any other necessary persons, prepares a proposed resolution, and submits the proposed resolution on OKDHS letterhead to the OCA Grievance Unit.  When requested, and upon a showing of good cause, the OCA Grievance Unit may grant an extension to the respondent.  When a timely response is not received, the OCA Grievance Unit may proceed to the second elevation.  • 8

(3) Within three-business days following receipt of the first elevation respondent's proposed resolution, the OCA Grievance Unit sends written notice including the proposed resolution and information on the grievant's right to elevate the grievance, when the decision-maker is dissatisfied with the proposed resolution.

(4) The decision-maker has three-business days to accept or reject the proposed resolution.  Failure to respond to the proposed resolution is deemed acceptance of the resolution.  When the decision-maker opts to reject the first elevation respondent's proposed resolution, the grievance proceeds to the second elevation.  • 9

(j) Second elevation.

(1) Within three-business days after the decision-maker requests a second elevation, the OCA Grievance Unit prepares and sends (A) through (D) of this paragraph to the State Office administrator with decision-making authority to respond to the subject of the grievance.  The OCA Grievance Unit sends:

(A) a copy of the complaint;

(B) all prior proposed resolutions;

(C) all of the decision-maker's responses to all prior proposed resolutions; and

(D) instructions for response, including any relevant deadlines.

(2) Within seven-business days following receipt of the grievance from the OCA Grievance Unit, the State Office administrator reviews the grievance, interviews the child being served by CWS and any other necessary persons, prepares a proposed resolution, and submits the resolution to the OCA Grievance Unit.  The proposed resolution must be on OKDHS letterhead and include:

(A) the proposed resolution and implementation;

(B) the person or persons responsible for implementing the proposed resolution;

(C) the target date for the proposed resolution;

(D) the facts and analysis supporting the proposed resolution, including relevant documentation; and

(E) any relevant rules, policies, procedures, regulations, or other information.

(3) The OCA Grievance Unit monitors the timely response by the State Office administrator.  The OCA Grievance Unit may grant an extension, when requested.  When a timely response is not received, the OCA Grievance Unit may proceed to the Grievance and Review Committee (GARC), per OAC 340:2-3-64(b).  The OCA Grievance Unit notifies the grievant and the affected State Office administrator that the grievance is being processed for GARC.

(4) Within three-business days following receipt of the proposed resolution, the OCA Grievance Unit sends written notice to the decision-maker containing the proposed resolution and information on the right to elevate the grievance when he or she is dissatisfied with the proposed resolution. 

(5) The decision-maker has three-business days to accept or reject the proposed resolution.  Failure to respond to the proposed resolution is deemed acceptance of the resolution.  When the decision-maker rejects the State Office administrator’s proposed resolution, the grievance proceeds to GARC.  • 10

(k) GARC review.  A GARC review is conducted, per OAC 340:2-3-64.

Instructions to Staff 340:2-3-47

Issued 9-15-21

1.  A grievance for a child being served by Child Welfare Services (CWS) must be filed either online at www.okfosteryouthmatters.org, by phone at 1-800-522-8014, or by completing Form 15GR001E, Grievance Form, and turning it in to the local grievance coordinator (LGC) or designee who completes the online form on the grievant's behalf.

2.  (a) Upon receipt of a complaint, the complaint is reviewed to determine if it meets the criteria for a grievance; an investigation for retaliation, harassment, or discrimination; or another disposition.

(b) When the complaint presents a grievable issue, the OCA Grievance Unit notifies the grievant in writing and explains the grievance resolution process.

(c) The OCA Grievance Unit determines if an intra-agency referral is appropriate and, when so, makes necessary referrals.  Complaints of children being served by CWS subject to an intra-agency referral are deemed closed when verification is received that follow-up was taken.

(d) When information contained in the initial complaint of a child being served by CWS is insufficient to determine an appropriate disposition, a preliminary inquiry may be completed to obtain additional, necessary facts to determine the appropriate disposition of a complaint.

3.  (a) In most CWS cases, the initial resolution respondent is the supervisor of the worker against whom the complaint is made.  When the supervisor is named in the complaint, the initial resolution respondent is the district director for that district.

(b) The documentation submitted to the initial resolution respondent includes a copy of the complaint filed by the grievant and documentation of any information developed by the OCA Grievance Unit during the disposition process.

4.  The initial resolution level respondent develops the proposed resolution in consultation with the involved parties including the grievant.  The initial resolution level respondent submits the proposed resolution in writing on OKDHS letterhead.  When the initial resolution level respondent considers the matter not grievable, documentation of additional facts supporting this position are made available to the OCA Grievance Unit, who determines if the matter remains grievable.

5.  Upon acceptance of the proposed resolution, the OCA Grievance Unit documents closure in the file and the database and sends written notice to the grievant and the relevant respondent.  This notice informs the grievant and the relevant respondent that the grievance is resolved and the complaint file is closed.

6.  When the grievant requests mediation and the criteria for mediation are met, the OCA Grievance Unit requests mediation through the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.

7.  (a) For CWS, the first elevation respondent is generally the district director for the CWS district in which the case originated.  When the district director was the initial resolution level respondent, the OCA Grievance Unit identifies the individual who has the authority to provide the quickest and surest resolution to the problem at the lowest level in the organizational structure, and that individual acts as the first elevation respondent.

(b) The documentation submitted to the first elevation respondent must include a copy of the original complaint, any supporting documentation submitted to the initial resolution level respondent, the resolution proposed by the initial resolution level respondent, and other relevant documentation generated during the process.

8.  The first elevation respondent must develop the proposed resolution in consultation with the involved parties including the grievant.  When complete, the first elevation respondent submits the proposed resolution in writing on OKDHS letterhead to the OCA Grievance Unit.

9.  When the resolution proposed by the first elevation respondent is accepted by the decision-maker, the OCA Grievance Unit sends notice and documents closure in the file, per Instructions to Staff # 5 of this Section.

10.      When the resolution proposed by the State Office administrator is accepted by the decision-maker the OCA Grievance Unit sends written notice to the State Office administrator, county staff, and the grievant.

Back to Top