The following words and terms, when used in this Part, shall have the following meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
"Access to the case file" means that the resource family and their authorized representative have the right to review any information to be used by the Department of Human Services (DHS) in the hearing.
- (A) The review may be made at a reasonable time before the date of the hearing.
- (B) Access to the case file means access to the resource family file but does not include the Division of Children and Family Services (DCFS) records and any report to the district attorney unless ordered released by the administrative hearing officer (AHO). The order is based upon a request by the resource family and, after an in camera review by the AHO, a determination that a compelling reason exists and that disclosure is necessary for the protection of a public or private interest. Any child's name and the reporter's name is removed prior to submitting the information to the AHO.
- (C) When a request for file access is made, the local office makes arrangements for the resource family, authorized representative, or both, to review the resource file with as much privacy as possible. A supervisory staff member observes the review of the resource file to ensure that contents of the resource file are not removed from the record.
- (D) The resource family and their authorized representative are free to make written notes from the record or obtain copies of available documents. A resource family or their authorized representative are not charged for copies of documents made for the purpose of the hearing preparation or presentation.
"Administrative hearing officer" (AHO) means:
- (A) the professional staff member of the Appeals Unit who has been designated by the Appeals Unit supervisor to conduct an administrative hearing and issue a decision; or
- (B) a lawyer who has a contract with DHS to preside over administrative hearings and issue a decision.
"Appeals Committee" means the committee which makes the hearing decision, consisting of the AHO who presided over a hearing, the division director of the affected program or designee, and the Appeals Unit supervisor. The Director of DHS has the authority to alter the members as he or she deems appropriate.
"Appeals Unit" means the unit established within the Legal Division which is responsible for conducting administrative hearings.
"Authorized representative" means a person authorized by the resource family to represent them in the hearing process.
- (A) Any party may be represented by a lawyer, or legal intern, licensed to practice by the Supreme Court of Oklahoma.
- (B) A party may be represented by a non-lawyer.
- (C) If the representative is not a lawyer, DHS verifies the authority of the person to represent the resource family through verbal or written authorization of the resource family.
"DHS" means the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
"Hearing" means the process by which the AHO obtains evidence and makes a decision regarding the protested action, or failure to act, by DHS.
"Hearing summary" is a document stating the reasons for DHS' action or inaction. It provides the resource family with information needed to prepare for the hearing.
"Local office" means any office in any division or unit of DHS which is responsible for the act, or failure to act, which is the subject of the hearing.
"Local staff member" means the particular staff member who was responsible for the protested action, or failure to act, and who represents DHS in activities during the time period extending from the resource family's request for a hearing through any needed action following the decision on the hearing.
"OAC" means the Oklahoma Administrative Code, which contains the regulations promulgated by each state agency.
"Official record" means records consisting of:
- (A) all evidence offered for introduction at the hearing;
- (B) an electronic recording of the hearing; and
- (C) the hearing decision.
"Resource family" means an adoptive or foster home, including kinship.
"Substantial evidence" means evidence which shows that there is a substantial basis of facts to support the decision being appealed. Substantial evidence need not rise to the level of a preponderance of the evidence, but must be more than a scintilla of evidence.