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News Archives

Talking to Kids About Tragedy

Children don’t think exactly like adults. When discussing this week’s shooting at an Ohio high school, deadly severe storms or other tragedies with children, it’s important to take special care. Carrie Little, program coordinator/educator at Family & Children’s Services, has tips to help parents talk to their children about tragedy.





Need professional help in dealing with trauma in your child’s life? We can help. Click here to learn more about trauma treatment services at Family & Children’s Services.

New Ideas in Health Care Benefit Clients, Entire Community – By Dianne Hughes, Program Director, Case Management and Special Projects

We hear a lot these days about the poor state of health in Oklahoma as compared to the rest of the nation. Perhaps you’ve also heard the news that people diagnosed with a serious mental illness are at a higher risk of premature death. Earlier this month, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration/Health Resources Services Administration Center for Integrated Health Solutions explained that these premature deaths are “largely due to complications from untreated, preventable chronic illnesses like obesity, hypertension, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease, which are aggravated by poverty-driven health choices, like poor nutrition, lack of exercise, and smoking.”

We at Family & Children’s Services are acutely aware of this problem. Many of our clients don’t have a regular medical doctor. They use the emergency room for their health care or, sadly, forgo needed medical attention. Through a partnership with the George Kaiser Family Foundation and Morton Comprehensive Health Services, Family & Children’s Services took a bold step to help improve the health of our clients by opening a medical clinic in October 2011 inside the Sarah & John Graves Center.  

Currently, the clinic operates one day a week and is available for adults receiving mental health services from Family & Children’s Services. Clinic patients may also receive free medication as prescribed by a Morton medical provider. Patients receive treatment for colds and other minor complaints and serious, chronic illnesses such as high blood pressure and diabetes.

So, can one day a week really help? By mid-February, 281 clients had been seen during the clinic’s 16 operating days. Over 70 percent of those served said they didn’t have a primary care physician and, instead, used to visit hospital emergency rooms for care. More than 20 percent didn’t seek care when sick. But now, these individuals have a resource for getting treatment and, just as important, managing their wellness.

The direct impact on our clients and their loved ones is evident. However, our community as a whole benefits, too, through less crowded emergency rooms and lower health care costs. 

Mental Illness Impacts 1 in 5 Americans, report shows

A new national report reveals that 45.9 million American adults aged 18 or older, or 20 percent of this age group, experienced mental illness in the past year. The rate of mental illness was more than twice as high among those aged 18 to 25 (29.9 percent) than among those aged 50 and older (14.3 percent). Adult women were also more likely than men to have experienced mental illness in the past year (23 percent versus 16.8 percent).


To read the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s full news release on the study, click here.

Fun & Free Time Together as a Family

Too often, parents find themselves caught in a game of “gimme” with their children – as in, “Gimme this, Mom.” or “Dad, can you gimme a new video game?” However, how much money you spend on your kids matters less than how much time you spend with them.

Tulsa World Blogger Natalie Mikles has some fantasic ideas for spending time together as a family free or on the cheap. We have a few other suggestions:

Have a board game night. Younger children can be paired up with older kids or parents. Reading game cards reinforces language skills, and moving the pawn and handling money helps with mathematics.

Channel Scheherezade, the fabled Persian storyteller. She told a story that lasted 1,001 nights, ending each night’s session on a suspenseful note. Let every member of the family have an opportunity to tell part of the story you create together.

Go dancing without the stars. Turn on some music and cut a rug on your own rug. It’s a great way to get some exercise and is likely to leave everyone giggling.

Stage your own “Chopped” challenge. Set out an array of motley ingredients, start a timer and tell your little chef to create a culinary masterpiece. Plan to be on hand to help younger children with cutting and any cooking required, but let their creativity guide the final product.



Do Your Part — By Carrie Little, Family Life Education Program Coordinator

“He isn’t even trying anymore.”

“She doesn’t care.”


Sound familiar?  If so, you are not alone.  Many couples go through times when one or both feel that they are the only one “working” on the relationship.  It becomes frustrating to reflect on your relationship and see only those things that you do to make your relationship work.  It can become a habit to focus only on those things that your partner ISN’T doing.  When this habit forms it is likely that other bad habits form in its wake, including bouts of escalation when trying to discuss issues with your partner, or starting sentences that begin with, “You never… ” or “You always… .”

Especially if you have children together, it is important to find ways of relating to one another without damaging your closeness.  One way to begin this process is called “Do Your Part.”  This concept relies greatly on your ability to look closely at your thoughts and actions to bring about change in your relationship.  In other words, in every situation, find a way to do the best you can.  Whether that be choosing not to yell and scream, or choosing to do something nice for your partner even in times of irritation. 

This does not mean you can change your relationship on your own.  It takes two to make a relationship work over time.  However, if both you and your partner begin a daily practice of “Do Your Part,” the need for each to focus on the other’s bad behavior will cease.  This involves trust.  You have to trust that your partner is doing everything he or she can to make your relationship and family life work, and vice versa.  This also involves a lot of respect and kindness, both toward yourself and your partner.

“Do Your Part” can change the tone of your relationship.  You will begin to process events in a different way.  Instead of automatically going toward the one thing your partner did wrong, you will be thinking in “I” statements instead.  Like, “What could I have done to make that conversation better?”  or, “What could I do today to make my relationship stronger?” 


If you would like to learn more about “Do Your Part,” and other concepts and skills to make your relationship strong, Family & Children’s Services offers a free class called Forever. For Real. In this class, couples learn together the skills needed to create a lasting and loving partnership.

Calling All Retailers: Clear Your Racks!

Family & Children’s Services is asking local retailers to clear their racks. The agency’s popular warehouse sale fundraising event is just around the corner – and merchandise is needed!

F&CS will host its ninth annual Abersons & Friends Warehouse Sale on March 28-30, 2012, at its central office, 650 S. Peoria Avenue. Proceeds of the sale will help F&CS provide counseling, treatment and support services to children who’ve been abused, families in crisis and individuals faced with overwhelming problems or mental illness.

Local merchants can support the effort by donating unsold stock – including home décor, housewares; women’s, men’s and children’s clothing; accessories and more – to F&CS. The agency will coordinate pick up from stores. Participating merchants may take a tax deduction for any items they donate, will be listed in promotional materials and – best of all! – will have more room on their racks to display the latest spring merchandise. 

Nearly 35 stores and hundreds of bargain-loving shoppers participated in last year’s Abersons & Friends Warehouse Sale. To get more information or schedule a pick up date, contact Rochelle Dowdell, the F&CS special events coordinator, at 918.560.1115 or

Kids Who Care: 7th Grader’s WIR Project

In less than a month, Olivia Butkin will be celebrating her Bat Mitzvah. Mitzvah is a Hebrew word that mean an act of kindness or a good deed. As her Mitzvah project, Olivia is supporting the Women in Recovery (WIR) program which is a successful, cost-effective alternative to incarceration for nonviolent female offenders.  WIR embraces the belief that family reunification, despite hardship and substance abuse, is attainable.

When asked “Why WIR?”, the well-spoken and well-informed 7th grader said, “When you learn about the numbers, the data it’s more than you imagine.” According to the U.S Department of Justice, Oklahoma leads the nation in incarcerated women per capita with more than 2,600 women in prison. 75% of the women in prison are serving time for nonviolent offenses, primarily drug-related infractions. Olivia also learned that more than 7,000 Oklahoma children have a mother in prison.

One woman who could have been included in the shocking statistics is Leslie. The mother of two was facing 21 years to life in prison for endeavoring to manufacture meth, but rather than serving time in prison, she was accepted into WIR. She credits the program with bringing her family back together and changing her life. “Without WIR, it would not have been possible for me to get full custody of my children after fighting for them for 17 months. My oldest son excels in math, my youngest son helps me cook and has won awards in school for helping and star behavior. We are a happy, healthy bonded family and my kids will be a success in life.”

Olivia’s project will provide backpacks for the children of mothers who are participating in the program. These backpacks, filled with age appropriate books, games and interactive activities, will give mom and child materials to supplement their special time together during visits.

Often, when the mothers first get to visit with their children, they don’t have games, toys or books for the children. For Leslie, the WIR backpacks are a blessing. “The kids were so excited to have something to play with and knew it was specially picked out for boys their age. The boys felt proud carrying the backpacks,” she said.

When asked how she thinks the backpacks help the families Olivia said, “I think it means growing a relationship with people they know they are related to by blood, but might not feel emotionally related to or connected to yet. So, I feel like that’s really helping them connect and I think that’s really important.”

Leslie says the contents inside the backpacks opened up new possibilities for her family. “It had been a while since we had been able to play together and it made our time together special. It helped me put into practice everything I was learning about how to communicate with the boys, understand their feelings, play together and bond and taught us all more about each other and how to be a family. ”

To date, Olivia has spent dozens of hours on this project and collected more than $2500 in donations. She said, “I’m very lucky to have what I have, so it’s important to give back to others.”  Calling Olivia’s efforts “impressive” and Leslie hopes the 12 year old will understand the impact she is making. “She is making a difference for our families. I would tell Olivia that she has taken on such a major role for improving lives, has a big heart and such dedication to children.”


WIR Olivia Backpacks

To learn more about Family & Children’s Services 49 programs and how you may get involved, please contact Susan McCalman, Director of Development, at 918-560-1119 or email



2 Year Old Gives Birthday HUGS

When it comes to celebrating, Kelly Estep Evans knows how to throw a bash.

Her daughter, Kinley, recently celebrated her second birthday and, in lieu of gifts, the family requested donations. “We researched online and landed on Family & Children’s Services because of all the great work you do,” Kelly said.

The family asked that guests bring HUGS, which stands for hats, underwear, gloves and socks. In all, little Kinley’s birthday well-wishers donated more than $300 worth of clothing. The basket full of clothing and birthday HUGS will touch dozens of lives. “Really, this is a blessing for us too,” Kelly said.

Although the precious two year old may not fully understand the impact of this generosity, we’re certain her mother will one day explain to her the importance of her HUGS.

Little Girl Bday Donation 1        Little Girl Bday Donation 2


Learn more about Family & Children’s Services 49 programs  or Contact Us for additional information.

Your tax-deductible gift to Family & Children’s Services helps provide life-changing services to 1 in 6 Tulsans each year. Please consider making a donation today.

$100    Puts a roof over a homeless man’s head for one week

$250    Gives eight parents the opportunity to attend a six-week parenting education program

$500    Provides one day’s worth of crisis stabilization services at CrisisCare Center

$1000  One month of medication for a client suffering from bipolar and schizophrenia

$5000  Funds one year of specialized treatment for a child who has been sexually abused

5 Things You Can Do To Promote Back To School Readiness

Tulsa area kids will be headed back to school very soon! Family & Children’s Services encourages parents to incorporate these five things into back to school planning:

  • Begin to get kids to bed earlier now. This will get them onto a school schedule and decrease sleep deprivation at the beginning of the school year that can lead to behavior issues.
  • If you have taken your child off any medications for the summer, talk with your doctor now about getting him back on those medications so they have time to kick in before school begins.
  • If you have a child going to school for the first time or changing schools, talk with your school about doing a “dry run.” Show your child the inside of the school, his classroom, and introduce him to his teacher and principal. This will lessen first day anxiety.
  • Talk with your child about expectations for the upcoming school year. Talk about bullying, social media and anything else you are concerned about. Encourage your child to talk about anything they feel is important.
  • Remember to put yourself on a schedule as well as your kids. Get enough sleep, drink lots of water, exercise, and take a little time for yourself each day. We have to take care of ourselves before we can take care of others!

Want more parenting tips?  Click HERE.

Upcoming Events

Tax–Free Weekend

Friday, August 1 – Sunday, August 3

NO TAXES on clothes & shoes costing under $100

Also includes: diapers, swim suits, coats, underwear, belts, socks, gloves, hats, uniforms & more

6th Annual ‘Cuts for Kids’ Event

FREE Haircuts for school aged children Monday, August 4- Wednesday, August 6

9:30am – 10pm

*No appointment needed*

Clary Sage College
3131 S. Sheridan Road
Tulsa Transit: bus #215

For more information:

FREE School Supplies Assistance

Restore Hope Ministries

2960 Charles Page Blv
(West of Gilcrease Museum Rd)

Monday, August 4- Friday, August 8 and Monday, August 11- Thursday, August 14
9:30 – 11:30am
12:30 – 3:00pm


* Students must attend a Public School within Tulsa County

* Students enrolled in Pre-K – 12th Grades

* Proof of age for each child needing supplies –
Accepted: birth certificate, school enrollment documents, shot records,
CDIB card, DHS records, etc

* Social Security or ITIN cards for the household

* Families – photo ID

NOTE: The Food Pantry will be not be open during the
school supply distribution times

“Bug In the Ear” Therapy Provides Positive Results for Families

One of our programs deserves praise for delivering positive results for families — Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT). PCIT is a short-term, specialized behavior management and relationship building program for young children ages 2 to 6 experiencing behavioral and/or emotional difficulties. Our staff has built a solid PCIT program over the years, using it in our Children’s Mental Health programs, Child Abuse and Trauma Services, Early Childhood Programs and our school-based services. PCIT works with the child and caregiver to:

  • Improve overall behavior.
  • Reduce parental stress.
  • Improve the parent/child relationship.
  • Increase child’s ability to mind and listen.
  • Increase client’s ability to manage emotions.
  • Increase positive social skills.
  • Increase attention span.
  • Build self-esteem.

During the traditional model of PCIT therapy sessions, caregivers interact with their kids in a room monitored by a therapist through a two-way mirror. The therapist gives the caregiver a “bug” to wear in his/her ear so that the therapist can talk to the caregiver throughout the session. The purpose is to provide real-life support and application of therapeutic skills. School-based and ECP therapists provide PCIT in the same room as the child and caregiver due to lack of resources such as the two-way mirrors.

“Since April 2011 I have built a prosperous PCIT program that helps not only families develop relationship, but clinicians learn how to practice an evidenced-based treatment model,” says Becca Wallace, F&CS therapist.

To learn more about our PCIT program, click HERE.

To make an appointment, please call 918-587-9471.

Red Bud Cup Golf Tournament Benefits Family & Children’s Services

Even though the day was stormy on Thursday July 10th, dozens of golfers turned out for the annual Red Bud Cup. The tournament was held at Cedar Ridge Golf Club in Broken Arrow and proceeds of the fundraising efforts went to support Family & Children’s Services.  Community Relations Manager Carrie Little was on hand to thank attendees for their support and share information about the 49 programs Family & Children’s Services offers. During the event, $5,540 was raised for Family & Children’s Services life-changing programs.  Thank you to organizers Tom Warburton and Harley Thomas, and to all the golfers playing in the rain that day showing tremendous support of our agency.

golf2 golf3 golf4


F&CS Employees Honored as Tulsa YWCA’s 100 Women of Moxie

Family & Children’s Services is proud to announce that our CEO Gail Lapidus and our Early Childhood Program Family Support Specialist Kasey Hughart have been honored as two of Tulsa YWCA’s 100 Women of Moxie!

YWCA Tulsa says this about the list, “Since 1914, the YWCA has led the charge for inclusion and empowerment in Tulsa — but we haven’t done it alone. Women of all ages, races, classes and backgrounds have worked promote peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all in our community. In our Centennial year, we want to recognize 100 trailblazers, hidden heroes, and leading ladies. They are women from yesterday and today; they are women from inside and outside the YWCA’s network; they represent a diversity of experience, background, and thought; but they each have made an impact on our mission to eliminate racism, empower women and promote peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.”

A reception in honor of these extraordinary women will be held on December 2 at the Downtown Doubletree.

Read the listing of all 100 Women of Moxie in the Tulsa World, HERE.

Click HERE to link to the Tulsa YWCA website dedicated to the 100 Women of Moxie.


Women in Recovery Receives National Recognition in The New Yorker

The June 23rd issue of The New Yorker featured an article named Get Out of Jail, Inc. The article’s author, Sarah Stillman, highlighted profound issues surrounding our country’s incarceration rate and alternatives to incarceration such as for-profit probation services. Stillman follows a woman in Alabama who struggles in a seemingly endless cycle of overdue and growing payments of court fees and private probation fees. The story depicts a dire situation faced by many in our country.

The article also boasts about programs popping up around the country as alternatives to incarceration – programs that are receiving accolades from legislators as well as community partners and are tackling, with success, issues of recidivism and offender re-entry. One program receiving these accolades is Family & Children’s Services’ Women in Recovery.

Read the story in The New Yorker by clicking HERE.

Read more about Women in Recovery HERE.


Rollercoasters – Helping Kids Cope with Family Change

Since the early 1990′s, Family & Children’s Services has worked diligently with the community to make difficult life transitions easier for families. We recognize that divorce is very common in Oklahoma and can also be incredibly traumatic for parents and kids. We were among the first in the state to offer a class specifically addressing the need to help children cope with this transition, while also supporting parents. We partnered with the courts to ensure that all parents of minor children filing for divorce or custody attend this important class. The class, Helping Children Cope with Divorce (HCCWD), has now served over 85,000 parents in the Tulsa metro area. That’s a staggering number…and even more eye-popping is that number multiplied by the number of children in the care of those divorcing parents. It is for those kids that F&CS’ Family Life Education department decided to expand the Helping Children Cope with Divorce program last year.

Historically through the HCCWD class, our staff teach parents how to negotiate a divorce while also helping their kids to cope with the situation. We now offer Rollercoasters as a companion to HCCWD. The four-hour program includes innovative activities, games, role-plays and discussions to help children with divorced or divorcing parents identify and understand their emotions, develop problem-solving skills and strategies for staying out of parental disputes, and learn to adjust to their changing situation.

Sarah Hetherington, Program Coordinator for Family Life Education, says, “Parents are really excited about this and often ask for more information after taking the Helping Children Cope with Divorce seminar – they say things like ‘if only you had this class for my kids.’ It’s exciting to tell them that we do have this for kids!”

To learn more about the upcoming August 2nd Rollercoasters class, click HERE.

To learn more about Helping Children Cope With Divorce, click HERE.

Women in Recovery Staff Named American Bar Association’s Reunification Hero

This month’s American Bar Association’s New Hero Profile is Sara Cherry of Women in Recovery. The article reads: Sara Cherry is described as being “a strong advocate for parents who feel like they have no voice due to their prior criminal history.” Her clients serve as her inspiration and she works relentlessly to get the very best for them. Ms. Cherry believes in the value of the parent-child relationship and is fully committed to safely reunifying parents with their children. Ms. Cherry started practicing family law 13 years ago and for the past two years has worked directly with the child welfare system in her positions as the Oklahoma Statewide Reentry Coordinator and Legal Coordinator for Women in Recovery. She advocates zealously for her clients and collaborates with the team of professionals working with her clients.

Read the full article, including an interview with Cherry HERE.

Read more about our Women in Recovery program HERE.

Congratulations to the 12th Graduating Class of Women in Recovery

Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) and the George Kaiser Family Foundation (GKFF) congratulated the 12th graduating class of Women in Recovery (WIR) during a special event at Aloft Tulsa Downtown today. Twenty-two women graduated from the alternative to incarceration program. This class brings the total number of Women in Recovery graduates to 168 since the program began in July 2009.

One important aspect of WIR is reunifying participants with their children and families. In total, WIR has helped 320 women and 729 children. The graduates celebrated today have a combined total of 62 children.

“I am so very proud and grateful to stand here before you today as a graduate and ambassador of this outstanding program that saved my life,” said Erin Garrison, WIR program graduate. “Thank you so much to my family, my continued and undying pillar of support, I love you all so much.”

WIR is an alternative to incarceration program for nonviolent female offenders with alcohol and drug addictions in Tulsa County. This program,which includes overone year of intensive treatment and services, provides participants with the assistance to overcome their addiction and successfully return to their families and communities. WIR is funded by GKFF and operated by F&CS in Tulsa.

The Honorable Judge William Kellough, Chief of the Criminal Division gav ethe introduction at the ceremony, and Police Chief Chuck Jordan was the featured speaker. “Congratulations to another incredible group of graduates,” said Jordan. “It’s such a joy to watch these brave women take steps to better their lives and brighten their futures.”

In order to qualify for WIR, the women must be 18 years of age or older, involved in the criminal justice system and of imminent risk of incarceration, ineligible for other diversion services or courts and must have a history of substance abuse. Women with children have a high priority for program admission.

“We are pleased to continue providing more women the tools they need to make positive changes for themselves and their families,” said Mimi Tarrasch, director of WIR at F&CS. “We hope to continue growing the program and inspiring positive changes in the families we serve.”

In order to graduate all participants must be drug and alcohol-free, crime-free, employed, actively participating in community recovery support, engaged in reunification plans with their children and meeting all legal and court requirements. WIR includes an aftercare program and three-year followup evaluation provided by the University of Tulsa.

Read about the graduation in the Tulsa World.

Group Photo

Learn more about Women in Recovery by clicking HERE.