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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 rdowdell@fcsok.org.

Tickets on Sale for F&CS Abersons & Friends Warehouse Sale Preview Party

Shopping for a good cause has never been so much fun. Today’s Tulsa World Style Scene  featured the Family & Children’s Services Abersons & Friends warehouse sale Feb. 24-26 at Family & Children’s Services, 650 S. Peoria Ave. The event benefits the agency’s life-changing programs.

A preview sale will be held 4-7 p.m. Feb. 24. Tickets are $35 in advance and $40 at the door. Early-bird shoppers will be able to buy designer shoes, clothes, housewares and more from dozens of stores marked up to 85 percent off.

BUY PREVIEW PARTY TICKETS HERE

State Sen. Mazzei’s message of vision, hope, courage inspires WIR participants

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Gail Lapidus, F&CS CEO; Senator Mike Mazzei; and Mimi Tarrasch, F&CS Executive Senior Program Director, Women in Recovery

TULSA, Okla. — Oklahoma State Sen. Mike Mazzei spoke to a packed room of community leaders and Women in Recovery participants Friday morning.

The four-term senator shared his story of surviving a car accident, which subsequently left him suffering from debilitating nerve damage.

He detailed his struggles to overcome both physical pain and addiction, and likened his battles to those Women in Recovery participants and graduates face .

“To win battles you are facing, you must choose vision, hope and courage,” Mazzei said.  “Vision is your goal for the future. Hope is is the flame of life, and courage is the fighting spirit to get up when knocked down.”

Many of the WIR participants took advantage of a question and answer session following the speech to thank Mazzei for speaking and sharing his story.

“I’m asking you to choose one goal and commit to yourself that you will continue to move forward,” Mazzei encouraged the room.

Following his inspiring remarks, Mazzei presented Mimi Tarrasch, Women in Recovery Executive Senior Director, with a citation signed by him and Gov. Mary Fallin recognizing Women in Recovery Excellence in Addictions Treatment Innovation award from one of the nation’s most prominent mental health professional organizations and policy influencers, the National Council for Behavioral Health.

Tulsa World Editorial Applauds WIR Award

Women in Recovery recently received the Excellence in Addictions Treatment Innovation award from one of the nation’s most prominent mental health professional organizations and policy influencers, the National Council for Behavioral Health.

The Tulsa World applauded the program’s efforts and you can read the Tulsa World editorial here.

F&CS Women in Recovery wins national addiction treatment award

Family & Children’s Services provides support, services for those battling gambling addiction

Sunday’s front page story of the Tulsa World focused on gambling addiction and how, in some ways, is harder to beat than drug abuse.

Read entire Tulsa World article here

Get help with gambling and/ or substance abuse addiction 24/7, call 918-587-9471 or visit www.fcsok.org.

F&CS Women in Recovery wins national addiction treatment award

TULSA, Okla. – Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery, an alternative to incarceration program for drug-addicted women has won the Excellence in Addictions Treatment Innovation award from one of the nation’s most prominent mental health professional organizations and policy influencers, the National Council for Behavioral Health

Founded in 2009, the program works with women facing lengthy prison terms due to addiction and trauma-related crimes, the types of which make them ineligible for other prison diversion programs, such as Drug Court.

“This award honoring WIR is most importantly deserved by the women in the program who have overcome tremendous odds to create a new future for themselves and their children,” said Gail Lapidus, F&CS chief executive officer. “We are especially honored in that we were chosen from more than 1,000 entries. We are grateful for our incredibly supportive partners who help us create non-prison alternatives for women with drug and alcohol addiction.”

Mimi Tarrasch, WIR’s executive senior program director, called the award an incredible honor, and thanked WIR’s primary funder, George Kaiser Family Foundation, and its 50 community partners including Tulsa Community College, the Tulsa-Area United Way, the judiciary, the Tulsa County District Attorney’s Office, the Tulsa County Public Defender’s Office and other funders, donors, volunteers and staff.

WIR’s goal is to reduce the number of women with drug-related offenses sent to prison, a focus that sprang from Oklahoma’s dubious distinction of having the nation’s highest incarceration rate for women. WIR works closely with the criminal justice system and other community partners to give its women the supervision they need, along with substance abuse counseling, mental health treatment and trauma treatment education, workforce training and family reunification to ensure they break the cycle of re-offending.

Through a 14-18 month program, WIR provides its participants services including substance abuse, mental health and trauma treatment; court-related supervision and drug-testing; culinary training; case management; wellness programs; housing; family therapy and family reunification.

234 women have graduated from the program since its inception. Only 9 percent have gone back to prison since program completion (the Oklahoma Department of Corrections’ female recidivism rate is more than 13 percent). Over the last three years, WIR’s recidivism rate has plunged to just under 3 percent.

Many of its women have children. Once their mothers are imprisoned, research has shown that children become more likely to be abused, engage in criminal behavior, experiment with drugs and end up in prison themselves. Thus, the family reunification component, delivered through an after-graduation program for grads, helps to break the cycle of incarceration.

Since its inception, WIR has prevented more than 156,000 days in prison and impacted the lives of more than 900 children, in addition to its graduates.

“It doesn’t make sense to imprison non-violent offenders suffering from mental illness, trauma and co-occurring addiction – simply because they don’t get the treatment for the underlying causes of what put them in prison in the first place. It’s a waste of lives and resources,” Lapidus said.

Tarrasch attributes the program’s success to its program’s unique amalgamation of evidence-based practices, community partnerships, and treatment of addiction as a lifelong disease – and to the commitment of its chief funder, the George Kaiser Family Foundation.

“GKFF is incredibly proud of our partnership with Women in Recovery,” said Amy Santee, GKFF senior program officer. “Since 2009, we have witnessed transformational change, not only in direct service delivery, but also public policy change and system reform.”

The national council’s award noted that WIR “has consistently achieved its primary goal of reducing the number of women with drug-related offenses from being sent to prison since its creation”, reducing the number of women from Tulsa County sent to prison.

“There are lot of programs in the nation doing really good work,” Tarrasch said. “I hope this influences other communities that are looking at alternative ways to be smart on crime.”

WIR will be recognized at the Celebration of Excellence Awards Dinner March 8 during the council’s 2016 national conference, and presented with a $10,000 grant.

The award joins other accolades WIR has received, including last year’s winning of the Dr. Rodney L. Huey Memorial Champion of Oklahoma Health Award. The award included a $15,000 grant and was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Oklahoma and a large group of Oklahoma medical and mental health organizations.

About Family & Children’s Services
For 91 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.

Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

F&CS donor couple show giving spirit

TULSA, Okla. – Hundreds of Tulsa-area children have local donors Richard and Caroline Campbell, Sharon Lechtenberg, and the parents and children of St. Bernard’s parish to thank for the new toys and games received during the Christmas holidays.

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Richard and Caroline Campbell

Each November, Sharon Lechtenberg, Director of Religious Formation for St. Bernard’s parish, sends letters to the children’s parents requesting gifts to be given to Family & Children’s Services’ clients.

During the Advent Children’s Mass, usually celebrated each year on the first Sunday of December, the children bring their gifts forward at the offertory of the Mass, and present them to the priest. Campbell, who’s a church deacon, and his wife separate the gifts between boys and girls by age group. Volunteers then deliver them delivered to Family & Children’s Services’ for its Child Abuse and Trauma Services program.

“Our religious education children learn an excellent lesson from being able to give gifts to other children who don’t have as much as they have,” Campbell said. “This example of charity for our religious education children will remain with them and it will carry them into adulthood.”

The Campbells said this gift giving began 18 years ago, giving much of the credit for its successful results to Lechtenberg.

F&CS officials approached the church about donating toys to F&CS, which would then go to children in the CATS program. Its therapists help hundreds of children and their families each year recover from child abuse’s devastating effects.

The F&CS toy drive isn’t the only donation effort the congregation fulfills each Christmas.

Steeped in the Catholic tradition of altruism, the church also raises money for Tulsa Catholic Charities’ Thanksgiving and Christmas Meals project.

The church purchases truckloads of traditional Thanksgiving and Christmas food for the meals of 400 plus families at Thanksgiving and Christmas.

The couple live in Tulsa, where they retired after working for the Internal Revenue Service. They have two children (a third, a son, died of a heart attack while on a business trip to Germany five years ago), nine grandchildren and 6 great grandchildren.

 

About Family & Children’s Services

For 91 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.

Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

Literal love – F&CS installs Little Free Library at Graves Center

DSC_4212 croppedTULSA, Okla. — Family & Children’s Services has joined a worldwide literacy craze inspired by a turn-of-the-century steel magnate turned philanthropist.

F&CS’ outpatient clinic and pharmacy, the Sarah and John Graves Center at 2325 S. Harvard Ave., is the site of a Little Free Library, where anyone can drop off a book to donate to someone else, or browse for a new book to read, “paying it forward” for booklovers everywhere.

“I thought this was such a fun way to promote literacy,” said Mimi Tarrasch, director of F&CS’ Women in Recovery Program, “particularly for the many people utilizing the services at Family and Children’s and for the neighboring community.”

The library is a hand-crafted replica of the multi-story building, and it’s home to books for people of all ages and backgrounds.

Tarrasch urged Tulsans to come check it out today.

The libraries, which began in 2009, operate under the “take a book, leave a book” philosophy.

Their website, www.littlefreelibrary.org, traces their beginnings back to a social enterprise project in a Wisconsin man’s front yard, where he built a miniature schoolhouse on a pole with a “free books” sign that his neighbors loved so much, he made more.

It is estimated to have grown to more than 25,000 such libraries worldwide since, shattering the founders’ goal of surpassing philanthropist and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie, who famously sponsored the construction of more than 1,600 free public libraries across the United States in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

F&CS’ Little Free Library will be checked regularly by its staff to be sure it stays full.

Come by, and see what you can find, and don’t forget to bring a good read with you.

Holiday Assistance brings smiles to dozens

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Robyn Haley, F&CS Early Childhood senior program manager, talks with a volunteer during F&CS’ annual Bikes for Tykes giveaway.

TULSA, Okla. – The spirit of giving is alive and well at Family & Children’s Services.

This holiday season, F&CS’ Holiday Assistance program brought bikes, toys, coats, hats, gloves, blankets and a host of other gifts, necessities and smiles to F&CS client families just before Christmas.

“Every day, our staff provide life-changing services to our clients,” said Susan McCalman, F&CS director of development. “Our Holiday Assistance program is a great opportunity for us to go beyond that and help our clients’ families during a stressful time like the holidays.”

In the run-up to the holidays, F&CS staff connected donors with families’ needs. Some donated new items while others gave money to assist in needed items’ purchases, which F&CS staff made.

It was part of a three-part effort to brighten the lives of clients during what can be a stressful time: Adopt-A-Family, Bikes for Tykes and Santa Shop.

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F&CS staff sort through donated Santa Shop toys to give to their clients before the holidays.

Many of the donations were made at F&CS main location, 650 S. Peoria Ave.

Among items donated were 1,126 toys, 165 toiletries, 181 blankets, 200 bikes, 83 pairs of shoes, blankets, 27 packs of socks, 44 packs of underwear, 40 pairs of sweatpants, 144 hygiene kits and 175 coats, among other items. The family of Jill Thomas (Thomas serves on F&CS’ Board of Directors) provided many of the items thanks to a $5,000 donation the family made to the effort.

“We’d like to thank the Thomas family for their incredible support of Family & Children’s Services and our clients,” McCalman said.

Adopt-A-Family connected 154 families with donors as part of a long-standing Family & Children’s Services tradition.

225 families received new toys and clothes for children from Santa Shop before it ended Dec. 24.

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Students from Patrick Henry Elementary load up the toys they donated to Santa Shop before the holidays.

In addition to the Early Childhood Program, the clients who received the donations were with Adult Mental Health, CrisisCare Center, Child Abuse and Trauma Services, Child and Family Strengthening Center, Children’s Mental Health, Cross Systems Youth, Homeless Outreach Team, Systems of Care, Substance Abuse and Addiction Services, and Women in Recovery.

Melissa Robinson, Early Childhood Program manager, said it’s not just the clients who benefit from the effort. The program provides family support and mental health services to children and their families in 13 Head Start and Early Head Start sites operated by Community Action Project Tulsa.

“We look forward to Santa Shop every year,” Robinson said. “It has really made a big difference. I always say someone who has worked in the agency and hasn’t experienced Santa Shop should because it makes such a huge difference in our client’s lives.”

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F&CS staff sort through donated Santa Shop toys to give to their clients before the holidays.

Robinson said the shop gives families the chance to devote scarce resources to paying their bills.

“It’s an opportunity to help a family so they’re not using what little money they have to buy one or two toys for their kids for Christmas,” Robinson said. “We don’t have to send them to another resource and to help them figure out how to pay their electricity or gas because they wanted to buy their children a few toys for Christmas.”

Robinson recalls one year she had a client who wanted only socks for her children. She saw the tears on the woman’s face when she received what she needed.

“Who would think that a parent would need something as simple as socks?” Robinson said. “We’re so very, very thankful for those who’re so willing to share at this time of the year and contribute to what Family & Children’s Services believes in.”

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A Buzz Lightyear toy sits on the shelf during Santa Shop before the holidays.

The toys that were left over went to F&CS’ Women in Recovery program, an alternative to incarceration program funded by the George Kaiser Family Foundation for justice-involved women, Robinson said.

Bikes for Tykes took place Dec. 16, also at F&CS’ central location, giving out 200 bikes and helmets to families in need, as well as 120 coats from Asbury United Methodist Church volunteers.

Humble Sons Bike Co. provided the bikes and helmets as part of a donation effort with F&CS that began in 2008. The latest round of bikes was donated with help from Academy Sports and The Burnstein Foundation; and Two Men and a Truck delivered them.

About Family & Children’s Services

For 90 years, Family & Children’s Services has been the place to turn for help with problems that seem overwhelming and too difficult to handle alone. The agency restores children’s well-being, heals victims of abuse, strengthens individuals and families, and provides hope and recovery for adults suffering from mental illness and addictions. Today, its life-changing services help one in six Tulsans.

Family & Children’s Services is a partner agency of the Tulsa Area United Way. F&CS is also a member of the following national organizations: Mental Health Corporations of America and the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare. F&CS is certified with distinction as a community mental health center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. F&CS is also certified with distinction as a Community Mental Health Center by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services. Additionally, F&CS is certified by the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services as an Outpatient Alcohol and Drug Treatment Program and certified with distinction as a Gambling Treatment Program.

Non 24-7 F&CS locations to close 5 p.m. Monday due to weather

All non-24-7 F&CS facilities, programs and services will close at 5 p.m. today due to the weather. Any classes or meetings that take place after 5 are canceled.

F&CS will return to normal business hours Tuesday.

For questions or more information, please call 918-587-9471.

F&CS receives innovation grant

TULSA, Okla. — Family & Children’s Services was one of several Tulsa nonprofits to earn social innovation grants from the Tulsa Area United Way this week.

F&CS’ project is a special 24-7 crisis team to respond to placement issues with children in the foster care system, an issue thrust in to the spotlight with the recent closure of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Laura Dester Shelter.

For more info on the grants, go here.