15th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
Kathryn E. Simms, M.S.W.
Children and Family Services Division
Kathryn E. Simms has devoted her professional career to the protection of children and the improvement of the public child welfare system in Oklahoma. Beginning as a social worker for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services in 1976, she rose through the ranks, serving as a Child Protective Services (CPS) supervisor for many years before moving into administration and management.
As the State's CPS program manager, Ms. Simms constantly strove to develop clear, better, and more useful policy, procedures, and training to support and assist frontline CPS workers in the performance of their most difficult jobs. She proved instrumental in developing an alternative response system to allow workers to more effectively manage their workloads and to intervene with families in the most effective and least intrusive manner appropriate to the specific situation. She developed an administrative appeals process for families with confirmed findings of child abuse or neglect that did not become court involved.
In her role as administrator over Protection and Permanency, Ms. Simms pursued outsourcing of all preventive services in an effort to ensure that prevention efforts did not get neglected due to large numbers of foster care and court-involved cases. Once this was accomplished, she worked closely with the Oklahoma University Health Sciences Center to implement evidence-based research on the statewide preventive services model, seeking to understand the specific demographics and needs of the families served and to determine which services were most effective in meeting the needs of those families.
For the past 14 years, Ms. Simms has served as the State Liaison Officer to the Children's Bureau. She is considered to be the agency's expert on child abuse and neglect. After 28 years with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the driving force behind the work of Kathryn E. Simms continues to be improving outcomes for children and families and developing the capacity of Oklahoma's child welfare staff.