Observations of the Oklahoma legislative session from Steve Lewis, former Speaker of the House and the Child Protection Coalition Advocacy Liaison, in his weekly Capitol News Update …

As this year’s session nears closing, Lewis notes that “there are no winners in this budget” due to a shortage of dollars and maneuvering among the two Chambers and the Governor.

“Most agencies took another big hit, the same as the past few years. Big losers were agencies that administer the Medicaid program providing healthcare services to poor people. Oklahoma Healthcare Authority will have to find a way to eat a $90 million hole in the Medicaid budget. That will likely mean a combination of cutting benefits and cutting provider fees.

“Same is true with the Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. On a smaller overall budget they have a Medicaid match deficit of $13.5 million plus other cuts. DHS also has state match needs for Medicaid services.

“DHS received $36 million to meet its obligation under the Pinnacle Plan, the child welfare lawsuit settlement and an additional $8 million. The most interesting feature of the budget was the so-called pay increase for selected state employees.

“The agreement includes SB 2131 that mandates the raises, but except for a few agencies, no money was appropriated to pay them. That means the agencies will have to eat the cost within their budget, cutting employees and/or the services they provide.”

New bills filed at the Oklahoma Capitol impact foster parents, child abuse penalties, shelters and group homes, abuse investigations, and more.  The Coalition monitors bills and supports or opposes those affecting the protection system and victims.  Watch our site for news and be sure to sign up for Alerts.  We’ll keep you current on important legislation.

Recent reports:  Abuse victims statewide doubled in 3 years, ranking near the top per capital nationally, and Tulsa County’s numbers jumped 1/3rd in one year.

Coalition task force looks at removing barriers to recruiting foster homes and better assessments of hard-to-place abused kids new law limits where child sex trafficking victims can be…….

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.

Child Trauma in State Spotlight

Oklahoma is one of three sites participating in the California-based Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project.

Each site is testing new ways to identify effective trauma treatments and develop trauma service delivery models within the child welfare system.

The Chadwick team recently reported on their assessment of Oklahoma’s trauma treatment and service delivery.  Their report is here.

The team’s powerpoint presentation, “Trauma-informed Child Welfare in Oklahoma,” summarizing the assessment and responseis here.


Trauma-Informed Systems Experts to Spotlight State’s Plan

Charles Wilson

Oklahoma is one of three laboratory sites participating in the California-based Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project.  Each site is developing and testing new ways to organize child welfare services into a wider trauma-informed service delivery environment.

The goal of the state’s assessment is to identify effective treatments and develop delivery models for victims of child abuse and neglect.

Lessons learned in Oklahoma are already spreading across the nation.

Alison Hendricks

Chadwick representatives involved in Oklahoma’s trauma assessment, Charles Wilson, MSSW, and Alison Hendricks, LCSW, will discuss findings and the state plan in Tulsa Oct. 20 and Oklahoma City Oct. 21.


Chadwick Trauma-Informed Systems Project  [PDF]

For more information please contact us.

In the spring of 2011, three Summits were held to generate ideas to improve the child protection system in Oklahoma.

More than 100 professionals and leaders in the fields of child abuse and neglect prevention, treatment, and protection of children and youth in state custody came together in Tulsa, Oklahoma City, and Claremore/Rogers County. This document is the result of their work.

Their mission: Identify critical Priorities for Change. There are 20.

View the Report (PDF)