Community

DHS to shutter Osage and Pawnee county offices

OKLAHOMA CITY — With the state of Oklahoma facing a multimillion-dollar budget shortfall due to slumping petroleum prices and COVID’s economic impact, the Department of Human Services is shuttering dozens of its offices across the state.

Oklahoma DHS announced it would be closing almost three dozen of its brick and mortar offices across the state by the end of 2020, including its facilities in Pawhuska and Pawnee.

Instead, employees in those counties will continue to work remotely with state-issued cell phones and laptops, as has been the case for most of the department during the ongoing pandemic. A projected two-thirds of the employees in the affected offices will continue to work in the same counties. The agency is working with community partners to secure office space on an as-needed basis for services that require a face-to-face environment, such as supervised parent-child visitation or parent team meetings.

As per the budget adopted in May by the Oklahoma legislature, DHS will take a 4 percent budget cut for fiscal year 2021, or roughly $28 million. The closures are projected to save the state about $6 million.

Other counties slated to lose their DHS office include Adair, Beckham, Blaine, Caddo, Cherokee, Choctaw, Coal, Craig, Delaware, Garvin, Greer, Harmon, Harper, Haskell, Hughes, Jefferson, Johnston, Kingfisher, Latimer, Logan, Major, Marshall, Mayes, McClain, Murray, Noble, Nowata, Okfuskee, Seminole, Tillman and Washita.

Additionally, Cleveland, Garfield, Garvin, Kay, McCurtain, Oklahoma, Rogers, Stephens, and Tulsa counties will see at least two of their DHS brick and mortar locations consolidated.  

No timetable has been announced for when any of the offices will close.

The closures are limited to Oklahoma DHS offices and do not extend to any of the Osage Nation programs that are offered by both the state and the nation, such as Social Services, WIC, LIHEAP and child care assistance.