Legislators speak for the children

Change.   Reform.  Co-neutrals.  Pinnacle Plan.  Foster Care Task Force recommendations.  Restructuring DHS.  Children of parents in prison.  Investigating drugs and infants.

The 2012 Oklahoma Legislative session highlighted all of this and more.

At the Coalition’s summer meeting, three Legislators – each active in child advocacy issues – discussed  their observations of the 2012 session.  They are Representatives Jeannie McDaniel, Ron Peters, and Pam Peterson.

Analyst Jan Figart talked about trends in data which could assist social service professionals in spotting problems early.

Tulsa’s Community Service Council gathers and tracks current data trends in various child protective services.

CSC analyst Jan Figart recently presented “High Risk Youth Dashboard” at a Child Protection Coalition meeting and noted that monitoring this data can identify trends, but added we are already “in a deep hole and are only digging a deeper one.”

Child abuse, teen births, poverty, and low education levels are key indicators. Figart said poverty and education are too big to tackle; child abuse and teen births are something we can improve.

Examples of the data are:

  • 1 in 7 Oklahomans are on food stamps.
  • The state ranks 9th in the country in confirmed child abuse. 8 of every 1,000 children in Tulsa County are victims of child abuse and/or neglect.
  • 13 percent of all births in Tulsa County are to a 19 year old or younger and 20 percent of these babies are the 2nd, 3rd or 4th child of the same teen. Oklahoma ranks 5th in the U.S. in the rate of teen births.
  • More than 60 percent of Tulsa County elementary school children participate in free lunch programs.

View the full PDF Report/Presentation

Christine Marsh, Family and Children’s Service, makes a point about the data while Caroline Abbott, Mental Health Association of Tulsa, and others listen.

Jan listens to discussion and questions.

Elizabeth Risch is based at OU Health Sciences Center, Norman, where she assesses and treats trauma- exposed children with sexual problems and trains/consults in child trauma treatment best practice models.

Roy Van Tassell introduces the trauma focused training model to therapeutic foster care professionals. A trauma specialist, he has participated in national and state learning collaborative trainings in this model.

A new 12-month Trauma Focused – Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT) training program launches this summer for therapists, supervisors and program directors of Therapeutic Foster Care agencies serving Tulsa area children and youth. Following this in-depth training, therapists will be eligible for the new TF-CBT certification and agencies will be responsible for sustaining the practice model.

TF-CBT is an evidence-based treatment model that targets children’s response to trauma, resulting in more stable emotions and improved behavior. Caregivers learn to deal with their emotions and how t0 support their children.

Faculty includes Roy Van Tassell, MS LPC, clinical supervisor for child abuse and trauma services at Tulsa’s Family & Children’s Services, and Elizabeth Risch, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor in the Department of Pediatrics, University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

The Child Protection Coalition is organizing in this training program, collaborating with Oklahoma DHS, Oklahoma Therapeutic Foster Care Association, Family & Children’s Services, and OU Center for Child Abuse and Neglect. Training for participants in this pilot project is free, funded by Tulsa private foundations.

For information, please contact the Coalition’s director, kristine@protectioncoalition.org

Representatives of Tulsa’s therapeutic foster care facilities attended an informational event outlining the 12-month trauma-focused training program.