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CPC Member Spotlight: Indian Health Care Resource Center Assists Native At-Risk Youth

Indian Health Care Resource Center (IHCRC) is a community response to the funding and healthcare disparities of Tulsa’s urban Indian community. Almost 40 years after inception, IHCRC remains dedicated to providing quality, comprehensive healthcare to Tulsa area Indian people in a culturally sensitive manner that promotes good health, well-being, and harmony. From a part-time physician in 1977 to today’s state-of-the-art facility, IHCRC continues to positively impact the health of Tulsa’s Native community.

During a recent conversation with Dr. Rachele Floyd, IHCRC Director of Behavioral Health, CPC staff learned about health challenges our Native population faces, as well as why it is important to leadership of IHCRC to be part of local child welfare discussions. This is what she shared.

CPC: What are the challenges you face within the child welfare system in Tulsa?

One of the biggest challenges we face is the number of professionals involved in a case.  Children we see often have a DHS worker, Indian Child Welfare worker, CASA, foster parent, biological parent, therapist, psychiatrist, etc.  It is often difficult to coordinate care for children when there are so many systems involved, and to ensure that the child remains the focus.  Just obtaining the right paperwork we need to begin providing treatment can be a daunting task, and sometimes add unneeded waiting time before we can get the child scheduled with a therapist.  Often it is difficult just to figure out who has legal custody of the child, so we can ensure to get the proper consents signed.  We are so blessed to have our Systems of Care (SOC) program, which often helps get everyone on board and working together.  However, if this feels difficult for us professionals to juggle and get straight, I can’t imagine what it’s like for the child.

CPC: What do you feel are the positive impacts you make on kids’ lives in our community?

Children are a huge priority at IHCRC, with every clinic within our facility working hard to ensure that quality care is provided to our most vulnerable tribal members.  Children at our clinic can see a pediatrician, psychiatrist, optometrist, dentist, mental health counselor, and dietitian all under the same roof!  We provide psychological testing so that children with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, Autism Spectrum Disorder, and other issues are diagnosed accurately and receive appropriate treatment.  Our mental health staff are trained in various evidence based treatments, including Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavior Therapy, Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing, and others.  Behavioral Health services are provided for individuals and families throughout the lifespan, so that we can impact the entire system rather than just the individual.  Our SOC team works closely with schools to get children placed on IEPs and 504 plans, and keep children in school.  Our SOC team also works closely with mental health professionals and the family to keep at risk kids out of hospitals and at home with their families.  As well as providing treatment, our facility has been granted funding through the Indian Health Service to provide prevention programming to Native American youth.  We provide suicide, drug use, and domestic violence prevention in 5 area schools, as well as providing cultural activities for Native children throughout the year.

CPC: What is the one thing you would like the public to know about the work you do?

We pride ourselves in being the provider of choice for many Native Americans in the Tulsa area, regardless of whether they have a payer source or not.  Our clients come from all walks of life, from homeless individuals to top executives.  All services we provide are at no cost to the individual.

CPC: Why do you feel it is important for your agency to be involved in the Child Protection Coalition?

Native American youth are at a higher risk of developing substance use problems, being depressed, and committing suicide than any other ethnic group.  The risk factors for developing mental health and substance abuse problems often are a result of childhood experiences, including abuse and neglect.  Many Native parents have difficulty knowing how to parent, due to a history of families being broken up by the federal government and children being sent to boarding schools far away from their parents, their homes, and everything they know.  When there are problems in the home, evidence has shown that Native children are more frequently removed from the home than non-Native children.  Native American children are disproportionately represented in foster care, with the number of available Native foster homes being far below that of the number of children needing homes.  Due to these factors, IHCRC believes that it is important that a Native voice be heard whenever issues of child protection are being discussed.  We believe that as an agency, we have the unique opportunity of being both the voice of many urban Native Americans who have been caught up in the child welfare system, and also a part of the healing process for our clients, providing mental health and other services to those impacted by poverty, trauma, the breakup of the family, etc.

To learn more about Indian Health Care Resource Center, the work they do, and ways you can help them to further their mission visit their website. www.ihcrc.org 

IHCRC is located at 550 S Peoria in Tulsa

IHCRC is located at 550 S Peoria in Tulsa, OK