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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

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CPC Member Spotlight: The Child Abuse Network – Tulsa’s Children’s Advocacy Center

The mission of the Child Abuse Network (CAN) is to provide collaborative intervention services to child abuse victims, so that they are encouraged to embrace a future driven by hope. CAN serves as the coordinator for the multiple agencies that interact with children of reported child abuse. The result is a collaborative and non-duplicated inter-agency approach to investigate abuse and protect children in crisis.

A recent conversation between Child Protection Coalition staff and Barbara Findeiss, CAN’s Executive Director, provided further insight regarding why the agency exists and the difference they make in our community. Here is what she shared.

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

As part of Tulsa County’s child abuse response system, CAN’s primary challenge is in serving the high volume of children in need of CAN’s services.

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

CAN helps to reduce the trauma that a child abuse investigation can pose for a child. By connecting with children through a child-focused environment where they feel safe enough to share experiences, CAN is able to help children begin to understand that they matter and that they are not alone. CAN’s brief time with a child is intentionally focused on helping them begin the transition from hurt to healing.

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

Although we may see “sad” things at CAN, it is a positive and uplifting place for children as well as protecting family members and staff. In one appointment, the negative impact of abuse can transform into relief and hope. CAN provides the possibilities of new beginnings.

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

CAN’s philosophy statement sums it up:  Child abuse damages our community’s most vulnerable citizens, and often has generational implications. In the context of violence, child abuse is a public health problem that presents complex social and moral dilemmas concerning its cause, effect and remedy. Addressing child abuse requires a comprehensive plan with multiple, coordinated strategies.

To learn more about CAN and how you can help the agency accomplish their mission, visit their website today.

www.childabusenetwork.org

CAN Team Representatives (Executive Director Barbara Findeiss - front row, center)

CAN Team Representatives (Executive Director Barbara Findeiss – front row, center)

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CPC Member Spotlight: Sand Springs Home Offers Love and Security to Oklahoma Kids

The driveway onto the property of Sand Springs Home is lined with mature trees, and in the summer is green as far as the eye can see. It has the feel of driving into a park or resort. A visitor will see pristine grounds, houses, and a huge activity center. At once, a feeling of calm is palpable. Social Worker Courtney Noah calls it, “The most wonderful place in the world to work.”

Recently, CPC staff received a tour of the Sand Springs Children’s Home and learned the history of the charity. Staff spoke with Executive Director, Jason Charles, about the home and his role. Here is what he shared:

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

One of our challenges is public knowledge and support.  Sand Springs Home is funded by the Charles Page Trust, so we have not traditionally done fund raising or public awareness activities.  We need more people in the area to know about our services and how they can get involved.  This would help increase our support and volunteer base, as well as help people in the community know the types of kids/families that we serve so that they will refer them to us.

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

Sand Springs Home operates 2 charities.  Sand Springs Children’s Home accepts children who are in the foster care system in Oklahoma.  We focus mostly on teenagers and sibling groups.  We provide long term care for kids in a family setting.  We have 2 homes on campus which can house 8-10 kids each.  Sand Springs Home builds an individual plan for each child and works to meet their unique needs.  All of the children here attend public school and are encouraged to be involved in extra-curricular activities.  Our goal is to provide a home that allows kids to have a sense of normalcy and involvement in their school and community.  We also have apartments on campus for youth who have completed high school and need continued support.  At this time, we have 10 youth in college in our Independent Living program.

Our other charity is the Charles Page Family Village.  This is a housing and support program for single mothers and their children.  We have 108 duplex-style houses for families on our property.  Many of these families are homeless prior to coming to our program.  Length of stay in the Family Village varies depending on the needs of the family.  Some mothers can stay until their youngest child graduates from high school.  While families are here, they have access to our Activity Center, which provides after school programming for school aged children.

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

That we serve kids in the DHS foster system at no charge to the state.  Our contract is a no-pay contract, so the services we provide are entirely privately funded.

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

We have enjoyed being a part of the Child Protection Coalition.  We have formed positive relationships with other agencies in our community and we are more involved and aware of issues related to the child care system because of our involvement.

To learn more about this amazing organization and the history behind Charles Page’s vision for children and the Sand Springs community, visit the Sand Springs Home website: www.sandspringshome.com

The Sand Springs Home Activity Center includes a game room, full gym, racquetball court, movie theater, dining room, and study hall.  Staff at the SSHAC lead kids in activities promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and physical health.

The Sand Springs Home Activity Center includes a game room, full gym, racquetball court, movie theater, dining room, and study hall. Staff at the SSHAC lead kids in activities promote teamwork, sportsmanship, and physical health.

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CPC Member Spotlight: Parent Child Center of Tulsa, Insights of Executive Director Desiree Doherty

The Parent Child Center of Tulsa provides a broad range of child abuse and neglect prevention services for children ages 0 – 12 who are at risk for or who have suffered some of the most adverse and traumatic experiences of early childhood.  PCCT offers three levels of prevention services:  Community Education, Family Support Services and Therapeutic Services.

Recently CPC staff had the opportunity to gather the insights of the PCCT Executive Director, Desiree Doherty. Here’s what she shared:

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

It sometimes feels daunting to be working to better protect children in a state with high rates of every bad thing we know to be harmful to children. We are also challenged by the fact that many parts of the child protection system face enormous pressures (large caseloads, billing constraints, budget cuts, productivity ratios, bureaucracy, etc.). Couple that with unrelenting day to day exposure to complex trauma, and you have a system that doesn’t always have the capacity it needs (time, energy, right focus on greatest effectiveness) to best help families get what they need in order to create safety for children.

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

It sounds trite to use that phrase, “…making a difference one (fill in the blank) at a time.”  But that”s exactly how an organization like Parent Child Center can accomplish such positive impacts in the face of such great need.  By repairing parent/child relationship and creating safe attachment for one child and one caregiver at a time.  What we accomplish is pretty amazing, mostly because of the powerful ripple effect into the future that is created when one more child is safe and healthy cognitively, physically and social-emotionally. Then he or she has the best chance to grow and learn and become a healthy and productive adult and a safe parent themselves one day…instead of the alternative.  So we view our impact in terms of the strength, health and safety of the parent/child relationship and what that means to the child’s life trajectory.

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

It’s all about relationship, at every level.

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

Because Parent Child Center has a strategic vision for contributing to and influencing quality improvements in key systems that protect children. None of us working alone can adequately address the extensive and complicated needs of vulnerable children and parents. I see the Coalition as the place to help forge relationship with other professionals in order to better understand, communicate, support and respond more constructively to and with each other and the families we are all serving.  I remember when the Coalition was first formed, to address the stuff that we hadn’t been able to figure out in isolation. The easy stuff was already being taken care of.  So we created a table where we come together to work on the tough stuff.  Who does that?!  Well, all of us at the table do that because alone we will never “move the needle” on child abuse and neglect and all it’s consequences…which concern and cost us all as a community.

CLICK HERE to read an interview with Desiree Doherty published by the Tulsa World on June 21, 2016 covering the status of Oklahoma in the 2016 Kids Count Data.

Members of the PCCT team & Parent Promise with Governor Fallin (pink, center) at the capitol in 2016. Desiree Doherty pictured on back row in light blue.

Members of the PCCT team & Parent Promise with Governor Fallin (pink, center) at the capitol in 2016. Desiree Doherty pictured on back row in light blue.

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Member Spotlight: Tulsa CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates)

CASA stands for Court Appointed Special Advocates. Tulsa CASA  recruits, screens, trains and supervises community volunteers who advocate for the best interests of abused and neglected children in the juvenile court system.  They are specially trained volunteers who are appointed by a juvenile judge to serve as the child’s voice in court.  A CASA is responsible for meeting with and gathering information from the child, their family, other individuals and service providers on a child’s case. This information is compiled in a report to the court illustrating the CASA’s concerns, assessments and recommendations.  This information assists the judge in determining the best possible placement for a child.

Recently, Child Protection Coalition staff spoke with Maura Wilson-Guten, Tulsa CASA’s Executive Director, regarding the challenges and rewards of her work.

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

Ms. Wilson-Guten: Our biggest challenge is having enough volunteers to serve the nearly 2,000 children in foster care in Tulsa County.  Presently there are only enough CASAs to serve on about 25% of the cases.  Our wish is to provide a CASA for every child who needs one.

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

Ms. Wilson-Guten: CASAs are known as “a powerful voice in a child’s life”  We know that children who have a CASA receive more services, do better in school,  find permanency faster and are less likely to re-enter the child welfare system than children without a CASA.

CPC: What is one thing you would like the public to know about your job?

Ms. Wilson-Guten: Upon learning of a CASA’s role many people say “oh, I could never do that” but you can!  All it takes is one caring adult to change the life of a child.  CASAs are assigned after a child has been removed from an abusive situation and assist in helping them find a safe, permanent home.  We are part of the solution.

CPC: Why are you a part of the Child Protection Coalition in Tulsa County?

Ms. Wilson-Guten: The Child Protection Coalition is probably the single most important professional organization that we are a member of.  Very few professional fields possess a network as powerful and unified as child welfare  does.  The system collaboration that exists in CPC is remarkable and effective and the child clients our organizations mutually serve are better off because of it.

CASA Volunteers at Official Swearing In by Judge Hiddle

CASA Volunteers at Official Swearing In by Judge Hiddle

Thank you to all our Tulsa County CASA Volunteers for their hard work and dedication! 

Learn more about Tulsa CASA, including how to volunteer, by visiting their website today! www.tulsacasa.org

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Member Spotlight: Tulsa Lawyers for Children Represent the Most Vulnerable Children in Our Community

Tulsa Lawyers for Children’s (TLC) mission is to ensure the effective and zealous representation of abused and neglected children in Tulsa County by recruiting, training and assisting volunteer attorneys.

Recently, Child Protection Coalition staff spoke with TLC’s Executive Director, Elizabeth C. Hocker, about her role, her volunteers, and how her agency impacts the lives of Tulsa’s children. Here’s what she said:

“It’s been a year since I assumed the job duties and responsibilities of Executive Director for Tulsa Lawyers for Children, and what a year it has been. This small nonprofit was formerly established in 2000 to represent abused and neglected children in Tulsa County – Juvenile Bureau District Court. Usually, the Public Defender’s office is appointed to represent children, but when there is a conflict due to criminal charges or siblings have different positions on reunification, TLC is appointed. Last year, there was a 65% increase in referrals and 40% of all the children we represent are in foster home placements outside of Tulsa County.

An incredible cadre of attorneys have responded to the call to provide pro bono legal services. Three of the newest volunteers are from Gable Gotwals – Stacy Brklacich, Erin Daily and Robert Carlson. The number of volunteer attorneys has grown from 23 to 75 in one year. However, more attorneys are needed. TLC provides specialized training to equip even transactional attorneys to zealously advocate on behalf of their child clients!

Sometimes, these attorneys are the only constant in a child’s life. Children may move from one foster home to another, parents may fail to correct conditions and stay enmeshed in unhealthy and dangerous lifestyles and social workers may come and go. These specially trained volunteer attorneys respond to a myriad of issues to aggressively and passionately represent their clients in court.

I think it is critical for the citizens of Tulsa to know how adversely the next generation is being impacted by abuse, neglect, poverty and the lack of mental health and educational opportunities. Poor policy decisions on the state level are exacerbating an already taxed and burdened system. Our clients, newborns, toddlers, young children and teens are bearing the brunt of so many bad choices made by adults.

Tulsa Lawyers for Children belongs to the [Child Protection] Coalition because it is one strong, unified and cohesive voice advocating for what is best for our most vulnerable citizens- abused and neglected children.”

Tulsa Lawyers for Children is a Charter Member of the Tulsa County Child Protection Coalition. Learn more about them, including how to become a volunteer, by visiting their website today!

www.tulsalawyersforchildren.org

TLC

 

 

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Member Spotlight: A Q&A With Judge Doris Fransein – District Judge, Juvenile Division

The Child Protection Coalition is grateful to have the Honorable Doris Fransein, District Judge of the Juvenile Division as a Charter Member. Earlier this month, our staff had the opportunity to ask a few questions about the work she and the Juvenile Court do on behalf of children in our community. Judge Fransein has been the chief judge of the juvenile division since 2005. She was re-elected in 2014 after running unopposed. Her current term expires on January 13, 2019. She received a B.A. from Drury College and a J.D. from the University of Tulsa. Judge Fransein is also an adjunct professor of juvenile law at the University of Tulsa College of Law

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

Judge Fransein: Court resources.  Case loads are heavy with inadequate time to fully address the issues that face the child and his or her family system.  Hopefully, we will have more space within the near future and court resources once the state’s budget crisis is behind us.

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

Judge Fransein: Ensuring that the children’s needs are being met and that they are safe – mentally, physically and emotionally.

CPC: What is one thing you would like the public to know about your job?

Judge Fransein: Our court teams are dedicated and work harder than any other division of the courts.

CPC: Why are you a part of the Child Protection Coalition in Tulsa County?

Judge Fransein: The Court is a very necessary part of the Child Welfare System and ensures that the legal rights of all parties are being met.  This adds a necessary balance to the Coalition.
 

THANK YOU to Judge Fransein and her staff for all they do for children in Tulsa County!

 

District Judge Doris Fransein, chief judge of the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau, speaks during a deprived-child custody hearing in her courtroom.

District Judge Doris Fransein, chief judge of the Tulsa County Juvenile Bureau, speaks during a deprived-child custody hearing in her courtroom.

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Member Spotlight: TPS Serves District Homeless Families

To learn more about how Tulsa Public School employees interact with and serve homeless families in their district, CPC staff sat down for an interview with Loida DelGado. Loida shared this information with us.

“I am the Coordinator for Parent Involvement and Homeless Education. Kendall Huerta, assistant for homeless education, and I work with homeless families. We serve those who meet the McKinney–Vento Homeless Assistance Act of 1987  definition of homeless children. This Act is a United States federal law that provides federal money for homeless shelter programs. The McKinney-Vento Act defines homeless children and youth as individuals who lack a fixed, regular, and adequate nighttime residence. The term includes children and youth who are sharing the housing of other persons due to loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason (sometimes referred to as doubled-up). They can be living in motels, hotels, trailer parks, or camping grounds due to lack of alternative adequate accommodations, living in emergency or transitional shelters, abandoned in hospitals; or are awaiting foster care placement. These are also children and youth who may have a primary nighttime residence that is a public or private place not designed for, or ordinarily used as, a regular sleeping accommodation for human beings, as well as children and youth who are living in cars, parks, public spaces, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, bus or train stations, or similar settings.

We work very closely with local shelters, mental health agencies, CAP and many other Tulsa agencies that serve the homeless.

I joined the CPC after receiving an invitation from Lynn Sossaman (former CPC Executive Director) to serve on a committee to solve some enrollment difficulties that TPS was having at that time.  After serving on that committee, Lynn asked that TPS become a member of the Coalition. I was chosen to represent TPS. The CPC membership helps us because most child welfare clients in Tulsa County are TPS students. My involvement with the Coalition benefits TPS by having the opportunity to learn from other agencies in the area. I am able to learn new information and updates to share with the TPS team so we can continue to better serve the students of TPS.

The best part of my job is that I help any kid considered to be homeless enroll for school, even if the student is not able to provide documents that are typically required for enrollment.”

Thank you to Loida, Kendall and TPS for all you do for kids in our community!

Check out the Tulsa Public Schools website for more information regarding programs serving homeless children in Tulsa County.

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Member Spotlight: Youth Services of Tulsa – Serving At-Risk Youth Since the 1960s

Youth Services of Tulsa has come a long way since opening as a coffee shop for homeless and at-risk youth in the late 1960s. Last year, YST assisted more than 17,000 of these individuals.

YST serves Tulsa area youth with programs in four major areas: Youth Development, Counseling, Delinquency Prevention, and Runaway and Homeless Services.

“As the only non-profit agency in Tulsa focused on youth ages 12-24, YST is uniquely equipped to assist youth and families in navigating the adolescent years,” says David Grewe, YST Executive Director.

YST seeks to empower its clients, providing them with the support and stability to achieve their potential. As a learning organization, YST harnesses the power of data. Outcomes, as well as the input of youth, their families, and the Tulsa community, shape the programs YST offers. Because of this, YST programs are recognized as national models for quality and creativity.

YST is perhaps best known in Tulsa for its 24hr/seven-day-a-week adolescent emergency shelter. The shelter is open to youth ages 12-18 who need a place to stay. Youth arrive at the shelter from a number of sources, including the Safe Place program, from schools, parents, other agencies, law enforcement, and of their own accord. The shelter can accommodate 20 individuals, and includes facilities for teenage parents if they arrive with their infants. Also provided are hot meals, clothing (if needed) and access to school.

Last year, the Shelter hosted 501 youth for 4,282 cumulative nights. Of those sheltered, 383 of them found safe placement after the crisis was resolved.

“Utilizing a strengths-based approach, YST staff engage youth in a helping relationship,” says Grewe. “Many times, adults will make a plan for youth. We make sure the adolescents we serve are involved in making their own plan.”

Many of those youth who stayed in the Shelter contacted YST via Safe Place, a national program dedicated to providing youth someplace to go and someone to help. The Tulsa Safe Place program is the largest in the nation. Youth in crisis can find a Safe Place at all Tulsa public libraries, fire stations, EMSA ambulances, Tulsa Transit buses, and QuikTrip locations. In 2015, more than 2,600 Tulsa-area youth learned about Safe Place, and 145 of them received help at a Safe Place location.

Though YST receives support through varied funding sources, there are still gaps. Every year, the organization hosts Blank Canvas as its primary fundraiser. This year, the event’s theme is the T-Town Throwdown. Two teams of chefs square off to create a four-course masterpiece. Sides will be taken, team colors donned, and a year’s worth of bragging rights are at stake.

If you would like to learn more about Youth Services of Tulsa, call 918.582.0061, or visit the organization at www.yst.org, or on Facebook.

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