FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: State Rep. Steve Kouplen
Capitol: (405) 557-7306
Foster Children Would Have Opportunity to Get College Education Under Pair of Democrat Measures Approved by State House
OKLAHOMA CITY – Companion measures that would provide foster children in Oklahoma with an opportunity to attend college passed the state House of Representatives by wide margins Monday.
Under House Bill 1672 by Rep. Steve Kouplen, children who are in the permanent custody of the state Department of Human Services would be automatically eligible for the Oklahoma Higher Learning Access Program (OHLAP) after those students complete the 10th grade or reach the age of 16.
In addition, House Bill 1848 by Minority Leader Scott Inman would designate the State Regents for Higher Education as the agency responsible for identifying and tracking those foster children for purposes of enrolling them in OHLAP, which is also known as “Oklahoma’s Promise.”
To “ensure that these kids don’t fall through the cracks,” the responsibility for “shepherding” the foster children would be placed on the Regents because the DHS has a heavy caseload and high staff turnover, Inman, D-Del City, explained.
“We’d be penny wise and pound foolish if we don’t encourage these children and help them advance their education,” said Kouplen, D-Beggs. “These kids are still in the system; they have not been adopted out,” Inman emphasized.
HB 1672 passed the House, 87-6, and HB 1848 was endorsed, 91-4. Both measures now will be referred to the state Senate.
OHLAP provides awards equivalent to all or part of tuition expenses for students who complete the program’s requirements while in high school. The awards may be used at accredited Oklahoma public and private colleges and for certain courses offered at public career technology centers.
MIKE W. RAY
Media Director, Democratic Caucus
Oklahoma House of Representatives
(405) 962-7819 office
(405) 245-4411 mobile