CASA of Oklahoma County provides a trained caring adult to advocate for the best interest of children who have been removed from their home due to abuse or neglect. CASA volunteers get to know the children and communicate with all parties in the case and people in the child’s life in order to provide complete information and sound recommendations to the court. As “the eyes and ears” of the judge, the CASA volunteer offers a neutral, third-party opinion to the court, one that is unbiased and child-focused. Virtual video conferencing and electronic signature software is necessary in order to continue and expand CASA services during the pandemic. When restrictions are lifted, CASA will continue to utilize virtual services to stay better connected to volunteers and create more flexible, accessible training and continuing education opportunities for staff, board members and volunteers.
NSO’s Carolyn Williams Center is a unique program that provides transitional living in a 17-bed, dormitory-style complex for homeless young men between 18-23 years old. Many of the youth come directly from foster care or youth shelters. The residents receive help finding jobs, take weekly life skills classes, share chores and learn how to live independently to ensure their future self-sufficiency. To facilitate learning, the organization has created the CWC Job Readiness Center, which provides a computer lab and classroom setting to facilitate life skills classes. Clients may also use the Center to do schoolwork, search for employment and apply for jobs. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many clients have lost their jobs in the service industry. The Center is key to ensuring clients are able to find employment as quickly as possible and upgraded technology will enhance job searching capabilities and increase opportunities for computer skills training.
Oklahoma County Juvenile Court serves the parents and children of Oklahoma County. Many court-involved families do not have sufficient technology or data to virtually engage in visitations or services. The court will purchase tablets (one for each court team) and data cards/upgrades. Parents may then use the tablets to virtually participate in visitations and services, if needed. Visits and services will be coordinated around other matters scheduled at the juvenile justice building. Data cards/upgrades will also be purchased for parents who indicate they otherwise have a device but insufficient data.
Mary Abbott Children's House is a safe place for children to share their experiences regarding sexual abuse, physical abuse and neglect, as well as children who are a witness to crime and in drug endangered situations. Abbott House provides services to children ages 3 to 18 years old from District 21 (Cleveland, McClain and Garvin counties), as well as surrounding areas. Upgraded technology equipment will allow for investigative partner agencies and Abbott House staff to watch interviews live while off-site, limiting the number of people in the building while continuing to serve vulnerable children and families in the community.
Sunbeam Family Services is expanding wraparound services to foster parents through informal care options for children in care, remote case management, and telehealth services. These additional services well help Sunbeam maintain the placement of children in care and reduce burnout for foster parents and their support systems. The closure of childcare and schools forces parents to scramble to home-school their children while keeping them entertained. Parents also struggle to run errands and meet work requirements. For foster parents, quarantine also means additional check-ins with DHS case managers and virtual visits with members of biological families. To help relieve this pressure, and to prevent foster parent burnout, Sunbeam will provide all of its foster families with stipends for informal care.
Safe Families Oklahoma (SFO) is a program of It's My Community Initiative (IMCI), which exists to strengthen vulnerable families in Oklahoma. Safe Families is a locally supported, volunteer movement fueled by compassion to keep children safe and families intact. The hallmark of Safe Families is providing a “host family” to temporarily open their home to a child in a voluntary arrangement while the parent works toward goals to stabilize their family and bring their child back into their home.
In response to this unprecedented season of COVID-19, SFO has adjusted its response by implementing new methods of recruiting and onboarding volunteers. By shifting the approach completely from in-person information meetings and volunteer training to online and virtual platforms, SFO can both support families and prepare for the influx of needs over the coming months as shelter-at-home restrictions subside.
Fostering Sweet Dreams is a nonprofit that provides tangible needs such as beds, car seats, high chairs and strollers to Kinship foster-care placements along with unexpected traditional foster-care placements. Fostering Sweet Dreams will purchase new beds and bunk beds to prepare to meet an anticipated increased need for children coming into foster care or going home to be reunified with their biological parents following shelter-at-home guidelines ceasing.
The vision of the Office of Juvenile Affairs (OJA), an Oklahoma state agency, is to make lasting, transformative improvements in the lives of the at-risk and juvenile justice involved children, families and communities they serve. OJA seeks to provide youth with opportunity, tools and supports needed to live productive and fulfilling lives. The goal of OJA’s Strengthening Family and Community Connections project is to further strengthen and support families, by providing expanded phone and internet-based video visitation opportunities. OJA will work to effectively and efficiently develop strategies needed to use available technology to support youth currently placed in the custody of the Office of Juvenile Affairs to facilitate interactions between youth and their families and communities.
The CREOKS Behavioral Health Children's team provides confidential outpatient services for youth and adolescents up to age 25, in their clinics, in-home and through school-based programs. The 13 counties of DHS Region IV have the highest per capita out-of-home placement as well as abuse and neglect cases. They also have the lowest number of foster homes. The Alternatives to Foster Care project provides technology upgrades to be used by CREOKS Behavioral Health Children’s staff embedded in DHS Region IV clinics and supporting DHS-involved or in-custody children. Increased access to technology allows staff to work with families and community providers to develop plans of support that would build on community and family strengths to support families and children to remain safely in the home.
Northwest Family Services is a private, nonprofit youth service agency in rural Northwest Oklahoma. The agency provides a variety of services to youth and families with child welfare and juvenile justice involvement through foster care, Parents As Teachers child abuse prevention program, counseling, First Time Offender Program and community at risk outreach program. While under shelter-at-home restrictions, 90% of services must be done virtually. Rural communities encounter several barriers to accessing virtual services, including lack of internet access and/or inadequate data plans due to increased usage, lack of state subsidized daycare, inability to provide adequate supervision of children in the home, increased stress within the family due to loss of jobs, schools moving to virtual distance learning, inability to offer face-to-face family of origin visits, foster care support groups, parents night out, informal care, and respite. Technology upgrades will ensure children in rural homes have adequate internet access to complete their school work, counseling/medical appointments and virtual family visits.
Youth and Family Services of North Central Oklahoma
May 1, 2020
Youth and Family Services (YFS) was founded to provide temporary shelter and address the special needs of children affected by abuse, neglect and delinquent behavior. YFS clinicians have been using telehealth methods to stay engaged with clients. However, for those that do not have access to the internet or do not have the hardware necessary for telehealth, staying engaged has been a struggle. This is true particularly for OJA and OKDHS clients. Telehealth applications allows the client to have immediate access to a limited number of people who serve as the client's support group. The support group includes the client’s YFS clinician and case manager, OKDHS worker or OJA probation officer, a safe friend and a safe family member. During times of social distancing, the technology allows the YFS clinician to provide mental health and substance abuse services to the client. The technology allows the client to have a readily accessible support group, a way to stay connected and engaged during treatment and assistance in a crisis. This program particularly helps rural and low-income clients that do not have the necessary equipment or access for telehealth services.
OUHSC Center on Child Abuse and Neglect/Child Study Center
May 1, 2020
The OUHSC Center on Child Abuse and Neglect/Child Study Center (OUHSC CCAN/CSC) is housed within the OUHSC Children’s Hospital - Department of Pediatrics. Their mission is to improve the lives of children and families through clinical and interdisciplinary services, research and training. Technology is required to support child welfare and juvenile justice involved youth and family participation in specialized OUHSC CCAN/CSC telehealth treatment services. For children and families at highest risk and in greatest need, the onset of COVID-19 has brought with it increased personal and financial life stressors in conjunction with new barriers in accessing quality mental health care. OUHSC treatment programs have worked expeditiously during this pandemic to transition assessment and therapy services to telehealth platforms.
Panhandle Services for Children is a nonprofit youth and family services agency providing mental health, prevention, education, foster care and host homes for youth and families throughout the Oklahoma Panhandle. Technology advancement will replace outdated equipment and allow the organization to effectively connect with youth, parents, foster parents, OKDHS case workers and juvenile justice probation officers to ensure a continuity of care and quality service provision. Outdated technology has limited videoconference and teleconference solutions and caused barriers to providing service to all clients/customers. The service array includes mental health services, foster parent recruitment, certification, and support, as well as prevention and diversion programs for the community and those involved in either the juvenile justice system or Department of Human Services. Programs such as parenting classes, anger management, drug and alcohol prevention, life skills, support for teen parents and more will be implemented using the upgraded technology.
NorthCare works with Oklahoma Human Services and private funders to provide child abuse and prevention services to families in 45 counties across Oklahoma with the goal of preventing child maltreatment in our state. Providing technology equipment and upgrades to workers who support families in the child welfare system, primarily child abuse and neglect prevention, and supporting families of origin to retain custody will help retain families in their programs and increase NorthCare’s ability to reach families while under social distancing restrictions. In addition, NorthCare provides an emergency flex fund to support kinship families under financial strain to help keep foster children in their homes.
Supporting Foster Care Families with Technology Services
May 1, 2020
Youth & Family Services (YFS) is a private, nonprofit, community-based charitable organization in El Reno; formed to provide, promote, assist and facilitate a community-based, structured process of counseling, socialization, recreation, educational assistance, and in emergency youth shelter for youth and their families who have been identified as in need of assistance in adjusting to current life situations. Increased technology will provide supportive services to foster care families. YFS will offer family visitation, family counseling and educational support services through the use of laptops, iPad/tablets, individual and group conferencing software and other appropriate educational software/applications. These services will support placement stability for children in foster placements.
Harley’s House Crisis Nursery serves families in Western Oklahoma by connecting families with local resources to help them get out and stay out of crisis. Families may voluntarily contact the organization when they are experiencing times of high stress or crisis. The Community Daycare Scholarship Fund provides daycare scholarships for foster, kinship or families of origin to utilize childcare at no cost to them through the use of their licensed local daycare centers. Harley's House partners with licensed centers to pay the cost of the daily drop-in rate on behalf of the family for children in immediate need of childcare.
For nearly a century, Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. F&CS provides two intensive home-based service programs to children and families that are involved in OKDHS child protection services. These services are designed to address the complicated risks associated with child abuse, such as untreated caregiver mental health, domestic violence, substance abuse, generational abuse, poverty and past trauma experiences. As a Comprehensive-Home Based Services (CHBS) provider for over 25 years, F&CS has seen the program succeed in helping families, lower the likelihood for recidivism and strengthen child and parent relationships while ensuring safety. Additionally, Intensive Safety Services (ISS), is provided through a OKDHS Child Welfare contract. These services were created to prevent children from being removed from their homes by providing therapists to work intensively in the homes with the caregivers to address mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, trauma and other parenting practices that put children at risk of removal and placement in DHS Child Welfare. This project will allow for the purchase of iPads with hotspot capability to loan to families without the technology facilitate participation in virtual CHBS and ISS services in addition to DHS workers, attorneys, CASA and other providers critical to their ability to make meaningful change within rural counties, including Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Pawnee, Washington, Pittsburg, Muskogee, Cherokee and Adair.
Domestic Violence Intervention Services, Inc. (DVIS), a Tulsa Area United Way agency, is the only nonprofit agency in Tulsa and the surrounding communities to provide comprehensive intervention and prevention services to men, women and children affected by domestic and sexual violence. The Children’s Visitation Enhancement project will work to enhance the connection between biological parents and their children in child welfare placement by providing enhanced access to internet access and visitation kits for both child and parent.
CarePortal is a web-based and mobile platform that exists to help connect and support children and families in need with people and resources that can make a difference in their lives. All requests submitted through CarePortal come from caseworkers at government child welfare agencies or other child-serving organizations approved by CarePortal to vet needs. Opportunities are then presented to community partners to be able to more efficiently and effectively serve not only children and families but the requesting agencies' frontline workers. Every need met supports positive outcomes for children and their families, including to prevent children from entering foster care, support for foster and adoptive families, reunification of biological families and support for youth aging out of foster care. Needs are wide ranging; examples include material needs such as beds, car seats, food, clothing, housing, transportation, financial assistance for utilities and rent; relational needs for childcare, transportation assistance, mentoring, and tutoring; and family needs such as respite care, foster families and adoptive families. This request will provide catalyst funding to community partners meeting the direct needs of children and families in crisis, to increase the percentage of needs met through the platform in Central and Northeast Oklahoma.
Western Plains Youth and Family Services (WPYFS) has a long history of providing ground-breaking mental health services to the children and their families in Northwestern Oklahoma. Although WPYFS has traditionally delivered rural mental health services through face-to-face, in-person interaction, social distancing requires adjustment and expansion to the counseling process. WPYFS must now provide rural mental health services through teletherapy, also known as " tele-med" services. WPYFS will provide the needed teletherapy services to its existing clients and new clients that are expected due to the stress and fears associated with COVID-19.
Muskogee Organization Narcotic & Alcohol Referral Counseling Help
May 1, 2020
Monarch serves pregnant women, women and women with children who suffer from substance abuse in an inpatient setting. Many of the women served have children in foster care and are working towards reunification. Due to social distancing practices, they are not able to have traditional visitation with their children. Virtual Visitation will allow all residents to have visitation through video conferences with their children and DHS case workers, in order to continue the progress residents have made and to avoid delays for family reunification. Historically, a boost in residents’ moral and engagement has been seen when visitation with their children takes place on a regularly scheduled basis.
ReMerge serves mothers of minor children or women who are pregnant, providing a comprehensive program to keep mothers in the community with their families in lieu of prison. The goal of the organization is to reunify families and help both mother and child be successful. Typically, mothers are seen daily, but with social distancing on site programming has been suspended and all support has moved to virtual telehealth, phone calls and other remote resources. Many of the clients do not have the necessary equipment to benefit from these modes of operation, so ReMerge will provide the necessary technology so that all of their families can continue to progress through the program, work on their DHS plans and maintain contact with guardians, family members and attorneys.
Marland Children’s Home, established as an orphanage and then as a group home for Oklahoma Department of Human Services placements, transitioned in 2018 to become a child placing agency for OKDHS, with a focus on ensuring that Kay County children can stay in Kay County. Marland Children’s Home converted existing Marland Children’s Home housing into five residences where foster families can live rent free. These residences are large enough that families can foster sibling groups, helping achieve the goal of keeping siblings together whenever possible. In addition, the Marland Children’s Home recruits and supports Kay County foster families who live off-campus. The lack of technology to stay visually connected has increased the already high level of trauma for the children in counseling and visitation, especially the younger children, who don’t do well on a phone call. Creating Connections will empower the organization to implement the necessary equipment to allow all of their foster families the opportunity to virtually connect for continuity of care.
Logan Community Services contracts with the Office of Juvenile Affairs and the Department of Human Services to operate a 24/ 7 emergency youth shelter for children referred by both agencies or the community and to provide counseling for youth currently in the juvenile justice system and prevention programming for at-risk juveniles. Tele-counseling will greatly reduce face-to-face contact with clients and all staff to help to minimize the spread of the COVID-19 virus and to facilitate counseling that might not be available due to the pandemic. Logan Community Services will continue to offer virtual counseling to the over 300 youth they serve annually, reducing transportation and access barriers.
Center for Children and Families (CCFI) serves children and their families who have experienced or are at risk of experiencing child abuse, neglect or other adverse experiences throughout Cleveland County. All CCFI programs, with the exception of one, serve families in foster care, the child welfare system or the juvenile justice system. Technology upgrades and acquisitions will support the operations of the programs that serve these communities by providing consistent virtual access to counseling services, group classes and parent-child observations that improve their lives. Counseling services are designed to heal children and strengthen families by using evidence-based, trauma-informed care. Counseling services are available to children ages 0 through 17 and their biological, foster and/or adoptive parents to achieve safe, stable and healthy family relationships in the wake of child abuse, neglect and other traumatic experiences.
Youth and Family Resource Center, Inc. (YFRC) is a nonprofit organization located in Shawnee, serving Pottawatomie County, Lincoln County and surrounding communities. The mission of YFRC is to provide services that engage and empower youth and families to lead safe, healthy lives. YFRC serves as an umbrella agency for multiple services, programs and initiatives, which are all aimed at providing specialized services to foster children and families at high risk for being involved with child maltreatment. In response to the increase in need to provide mental health, prevention and emergency shelter services to the community, YFRC is building telehealth strategies for outpatient care, as well as related to the education of children. By creating a highly effective telehealth infrastructure, YFRC can continue to provide critical services during this time. Telehealth not only meets a crisis intervention need in response to COVID-19, it will also be incorporated as a long-term service array as a part of the agency’s practice moving forward.
Grand Lake Mental Health Center (GLMHC) is a not-for-profit community behavioral health center serving adults, children and families in Northeast Oklahoma. GLMHC will rapidly deploy devices to families impacted by the welfare and justice systems, to maintain connection and support during the COVID-19 pandemic. GLMHC partnered with MyCare to develop one-of-a-kind HIPAA compliant software to deliver 24/7 access to licensed mental health professionals. This software is individually tailored both to first responders and to the individuals and families served and it will be installed on the purchased devices. GLMHC serves a largely rural area and many of the communities lack adequate cellular and internet connectivity.