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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.

F&CS closed on Labor Day

All F&CS offices, with the exception of the CrisisCare Center, are closed Monday in observance of Labor Day.

The locations will re-open Tuesday.

Call 918-587-9471 for more information or in case of emergency.

F&CS expands school-based counselor program

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Faith Crittenden, an F&CS school-based counselor and supervisor, speaks to a group of Union Public Schools counselors Wednesday about working with child victims of trauma. F&CS provides school-based counselors to 35 Tulsa area schools, two of which were added this fall semester, which began this week.

TULSA, Okla. — As Tulsa-area parents take their kids back to school this week, Family & Children’s Services is expanding its much-needed school-based counselor program, adding two schools to its now 35-school operation.

The new schools, Broken Arrow’s Oliver Middle School and Tulsa’s McLain Seventh Grade Academy, respectively, join others in the Tulsa, Jenks, Broken Arrow and Union school districts this fall semester. F&CS also has counselors at 13 Head Start programs in the area.

The counselors, provided at no cost to taxpayers or school districts since 1999, help children with everything from academic-related anxiety to more serious issues, such as depression, trauma and suicide.

Whitney Downie, chief program officer with F&CS’ Child and Family Services division, said F&CS is growing the program because demand has grown. The number of kids in the U.S. being treated for mental, emotional and behavioral health issues has grown by 50 percent over the last 20 years, a study in the New England Journal of Medicine reported in May, and the Tulsa area hasn’t been immune to the trend, either, Downie said.

“I think our kids live in more difficult situations today than they used to,” Downie said.

Further complicating that is increasing poverty: 1 in 4 Tulsa children are in poverty, a state which is known to harm their mental health. Downie said when she started at F&CS 16 years ago, Tulsa Public Schools had about 44,000 students within about 65-70 percent of the federal poverty line. F&CS provided counselors for just one school. Today, that’s closer to about 40,000 students at 80 percent.

To help families, teachers and school administrators, F&CS counselors assist students with everything from anxiety issues to bipolar disorder and depression while listening to their troubles, providing coping mechanisms, and working with their family and teachers to ensure their success. F&CS’ status as a community behavioral health center means the children also have access to psychiatric services, among other amenities, without the need for insurance.

A day in the life of an F&CS school-based counselor

DSC_3824 croppedFaith Crittenden is an F&CS counselor who helps supervise the program. Crittenden sees kids at Jenks schools and Wolf Creek Elementary in Broken Arrow, too.

She always arrives 15 to 20 minutes before students. It makes for an early morning, but it’s the best way to be a part of her kids’ routine, especially at schools where students and staff greet the kids as they enter. It’s also a good time to connect with teachers or meet with students’ parents before the school and work day starts.

“You see kids back to back throughout the school day,” Crittenden said. “You’re even eating lunch with the kids. Because some schools prefer you to pull kids at certain times, you just have to get creative in how you’re going to structure your schedule.”

What she sees the most is child victims of trauma, something that has illustrated for her in stark terms that trauma “doesn’t discriminate.”

“We know one in four girls is sexually abused, and one in seven boys,” Crittenden said. “So if you take that stat alone, and you have a classroom of 25, then you’re talking about multiple children in your classroom dealing in sexual abuse.”

Treating trauma takes no small amount of empathy, in addition to training. Crittenden must avoid taking things at face value.

“You really have to take it kind of kid by kid. If they’re used to shootings happening in their neighborhood, they consider that normal. That’s not something I encounter every day, so I would consider that traumatic. That’s their everyday life. Often, what we have to do instead is teach these kids that school is a safe place and help them realize some of those behaviors they come in with they don’t need here in school.”

Regardless of the trauma’s source, if a student is suffering from it, it usually isn’t obvious, she said. It’ll manifest in ways that might confuse a therapist or a teacher.

Traumatized students often appear to be distracted in class, disengaged, fidgety and withdrawn. To most teachers, that student understandably appears to have attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

But “you may have a kid whose parents beat each other up the night before. That kid then comes to school, and is expected to attend to what three plus three is. But they’re looking out the window and fidgeting. They get pegged as ADHD. But what’s happening is that kid is thinking about and ruminating on what happened the night before, wondering, ‘What am I going to walk into today when I get home from school?’”

After learning kids’ backstories, she’ll take what she knows (keeping secret any details that must be private) to their teachers.

“I’ll sit down with them and talk about strategies, tips or tricks to manage problematic behavior,” said Crittenden, who has a similar conversation with children’s parents or guardians.

“That way, we’re all on the same page and talking about things the same way with this kid, because we know hearing this same intervention over and over and over will really help integrate it into their daily coping practices.”

Teachers are expected to do much beyond teaching, she said. School-based clinicians like Crittenden help them manage kids whom they’re struggling to reach, while also not excusing from a discipline standpoint “everything the student does.

“It’s just a way we can look at approaching the child differently than other kids whose story is different.”

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.

 

 

 

 

 

Matt Elliott
Social and traditional media producerFamily & Children’s Services
918-560-1141
melliott@fcsok.org

The first day of school is over. Now what?

The first day of school is in the books for your little guy or girl.

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You’ve prepared them for the day. You dropped them off. Despite much apprehension, no doubt, new friends have been made and new teachers discovered. Now, they’re home.

You ask how school was. You get only answers like “fine,” or “good,” or “OK.” Nothing more. Nothing less.

What do you do to get your kids to have a conversation with you about school? Here are some tips.

1. Take the reporter approach. Ask questions that can’t be answered by simple yes or no. An example of an open-ended question could be something like “tell me about your day.”

The idea is the same as a reporter’s – get your source (in this case, your child) to talk at length. Close-ended questions lend themselves easily to one-word answers. Open-ended questions encourage people to volunteer more information, and they also show more interest on your part in the person with whom you’re speaking.

2. Take note of how they feel and act at home. Are they withdrawn and tight-lipped when they get home? Or do they seem lighthearted and jovial? Note any change in behavior from before school started.

A child who comes home from school quiet and withdrawn may be upset about something. Use open-ended questions like we discussed above to help.

Read between the lines with the words they use. Do they use words conveying negative emotions and images, or do they use positive words? That can tell you a lot about their experience, how they’re feeling, or what they think about school.

3. Ask them what they like about school. We all know it’s easy to focus on the negatives. Asking your child about school in a fashion that gets them to focus on the positives can make them more likely to succeed in school.

4. Did they make any new friends? Asking this can be a great way to not only learn about your children’s friendships with others, but also about how they relate to peers.

Are they being bullied? Are they having trouble fitting in? What things did you endure when you were a kid that were a similar?

Knowing how Mom or Dad responded might help them feel less alone at a time when such emotions could be common – starting a new school, meeting new people, et cetera.

Adjusting to school can be hard on kids. Asking questions to get them to open up not only reminds them that they’re not alone, but they can also strengthen the bond between parent and child.

 

Matt Elliott
Social and Traditional Media Producer
Family & Children’s Services918-560-1141
melliott@fcsok.org

5 tips to help parents get kids adjusted to school

Happy friends

Parents across the area are headed back to school today with their children.

They’ve got enough on their minds as parents – being sure their kids have the clothes they need, that they’ve had their vaccinations, that they’ve got their school supplies and had their eyes checked, et cetera.

But what about preparing kids mentally for the start of the school year?

Faith Crittenden is a licensed social worker who helps oversee Family & Children’s Services school-based counselor program.

Although classes at Tulsa-area schools started Wednesday and Thursday, Crittenden said it’s not too late for parents to follow a couple of quick tips to get their children ready for the year.

These will all add up to helping children reduce their anxiety or stress level during class – when they need to be paying attention – something that can be even more beneficial for children who have mental, emotional or behavioral health issues.

Read on for the tips. For more, see these from the National Association of School Psychologists.

 

1. Get children in gear for school by helping them transition from a summer to a school mentality. They’ve been going all summer without having to follow a teacher’s rules and directions.

“It’s hard for them to turn their brain on after unstructured, doing-what-you-want time, to now going back and listening to a teacher tell you what to do all day,” Crittenden said.

Do this by initiating conversations with children about school starting, discussing who their teachers are. Ask if their friends have had them, and what do they say about those teachers?

2. Get children to look up their teachers on the school’s website.

Often, each classroom will have its own website through the school’s site. Usually, teachers will have a biography on their class home pages that tells students who they are.

Knowing a bit about teachers’ stories helps make them seem more approachable and familiar to students during that critical first week of school.

3. Take children to “Back to School Night.” Usually a few weeks after school starts, it can be a great way for kids to meet teachers outside of a formal classroom setting. It can also help with learning their school’s layout, something that’s especially helpful for children who may be changing classrooms during the day for the first time.

4. If children have emotional or behavioral health issues, parents should set up a meeting with teachers and principals to discuss their children and what has worked in the past. Parents will especially want to do this with any new teachers. Not only will this help their children, it will also help teachers work with students in the classroom to ensure they receive an optimum classroom experience.

“That way, when those kids walk in, those teachers feel armed with things to do and have a plan so that when something does arise, it’s not just willy nilly things that we’re pulling out of the air. We’ve actually got a plan that we’ve talked about and that we’re going to implement and do.”

5. Finally, parents should get to know their school’s counselor, especially if their children have struggled or are struggling with emotional or behavioral health issues. Additionally, it is also helpful to go by the school’s office and asking who the school’s mental health provider is, Crittenden said.

That counselor can refer help directly or refer you to other services offered.

 

Matt Elliott
Social and Traditional Media Producer
Family & Children’s Services918-560-1141
melliott@fcsok.org

Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors Backpack Party a success, benefits F&CS clients

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TULSA, Okla. – 350 kids received new backpacks chock full off essentials for the start of the new school year last week, thanks to the Greater Tulsa Association of Realtors Backpacks for Kids event.

The children attended with their parents and enjoyed face painting, pizza, free haircuts from a Tulsa salon, and the Wild Weather Camp with KOTV meteorologist Travis Meyer, as well as other activities at the Home Builders Association of Greater Tulsa. Officers from Tulsa Police Department also attended, and GTAR employees dressed like characters from the “Wizard of Oz”, which was the theme for the event.

The annual giveaway is for children chosen by Family & Children’s Services’ staff from their clients.

“It’s just fantastic,” said Crystal Houck, senior program director at F&CS. “GTAR always has a ton of volunteers, and we have a lot of fun helping put on the event.”

GTAR 2The backpacks, for which kids from zero to 18 years old were eligible, contained clothing, uniforms if needed, hygiene items and other necessities. Before the giveaway, F&CS staff worked with its clients to determine what the eligible children needed, as well as their sizes for clothing, colors for uniforms, and other items.

“Our staff get to help the children with their backpacks and interact with their families,” Houck said. “It’s a big family-strengthening event, in addition to something that gives the kids things they need to start school.”

Staff from F&CS’ Child Abuse Treatment Services, Comprehensive Home-Based Services, Parent Aide, Systems of Care, School-Based counseling and Early Childhood Program participated in event, which has taken place since 2006.

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.

A higher calling: Tulsa charity builds bikes to donate to area children

Wayne Mark Tulsa Bicycle Club Humble Sons 2015 Bike Giveaway

Volunteer Wayne Mark with the Tulsa Bicycle Club assembles a bike last week for donation for the Humble Sons Bike Co. 2015 annual bike giveaway benefiting area charities, including Family & Children’s Services. The assembly took place at The Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow.

 

BROKEN ARROW – About 200 volunteers hunched over dozens of bikes last week in various stages of assembly, squinting at gears as they turned wrenches and testing tires for balance inside BattleCreek Church.

Humble Sons Bike Co. assembled the volunteers, experienced bike builders culled from area bicycling clubs and other organizations, to put the bikes together for area children served by foster care agencies and organizations, including Family & Children’s Services.

Two brothers-in-law, Jason Whorton and Tommy Chavez founded the group in 2008, starting small with 22 bikes they offered to area nonprofits.

“When we started, nobody knew who we were,” Chavez said. “We called and offered bikes, and they were like, ‘Well, we don’t really have any use for it.’ And then, once our name got out, and that we weren’t charging, it became popular. It became really popular.”

Humble Sons Bike Giveaway 2015 3

Volunteers assemble bikes at the Church at BattleCreek in Broken Arrow last week for donation to Tulsa charities, including Family & Children’s Services. About 200 volunteers put together 1,200 to give to area at-risk children.

 

The haul for this year’s children will be 1,200 bikes, Chavez said. Humble Sons will deliver about 200 of the bikes Monday to Family & Children’s Services, one of five nonprofits to which the brothers will give this year. F&CS case managers will then give them to their clients’ children.

Whorton and Chavez wanted to give the bikes to needy or under-privileged children. That’s why they paired up with F&CS early on. F&CS, the state’s largest nonprofit community behavioral provider, helps 1 in 6 Tulsans with everything from free parenting classes to psychiatric services.

“Family and Children’s was one of the first ones,” Chavez said. “We really believed in what they were doing.”

Giving a child a bike gives them more than just a bike, he said. It gives them a sense of freedom, freedom to get outside and exercise.

Humble Sons Bike Giveaway 2015 4

Jim Hall (at left), Gary Lamaak and Bob Slater work on a bike for donation to Tulsa area at-risk kids for the Humble Sons Bike Co. annual bike giveaway benefiting area charities, including Family & Children’s Services.

A number of this year’s bikes will go to bicycling clubs starting at six elementary schools in Tulsa thanks to the brothers’ generosity, Chavez said, spreading Humble Sons Bike Co. generosity throughout the community.

For more information about Humble Sons Bike Co., go to www.humblesons.org.

 

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.

 

Matt Elliott
Social and traditional media producer
Family & Children’s Services
918-560-1141
melliott@fcsok.org

 

State Farm blog features Women in Recovery

State Farm’s Good Neighbors blog recently featured a graduate of Family & Children’s Services Women in Recovery, a program that helps women accused of non-violent offenses and facing long prison terms conquer drug addiction, recover from trauma and become self sufficient.

See the story here: http://goodneighbors.com/post/124836732197/recovery

Thanks to State Farm for the coverage!

WIR is a partnership between F&CS and the George Kaiser Family Foundation to end Oklahoma’s dubious distinction of sending more women to prison than any other state in the nation and break the cycle of incarceration for justice-involved women’s families.

Click here for more information on Women in Recovery.

Homelessness in Tulsa an evolving problem

Gary Pino Homelessness Story 2015 1

Gary Pino, previously chronically homeless, poses for a photo outside his new apartment. Through its Homeless and Diversion Services, F&CS connected him with housing, paired him with a case worker and is helping him get his Social Security reinstated.

 

Someone stole his tent while he was in jail, but that doesn’t matter now

Today, Gary Pino is getting treatment and doesn’t need a tent – because he has a home for the first time in decades and treatment to recover.

After decades of homelessness, Pino moved in to a Mental Health Association of Oklahoma apartment in June with the help of his case manager, Homeless Outreach Team member Allison Owens at Family & Children’s Services Salvation Army location, 102 N. Denver Ave.

“They’ve also been helping me with bus tokens to get to my appointments at the other Family & Children’s Services locations, get my medicines refilled and make my doctors’ appointments,” Pino said.

As the mercury climbs this summer, Pino said he’s glad to be in his apartment’s air conditioning and out of that tent, anyway, tucked behind a large shopping center.

He’s also happy to be where meals are provided well away from the critters (“those raccoons were fat,” he exclaimed). He’ll be able to stay in the apartments as long as he wishes for free, and as long as he abides by the apartments’ rules.

Kaitlin Foster

Kaitlin Foster, clinical director, Homeless and Diversion Services, Family & Children’s Services

Kaitlin Foster, clinical director of Family & Children’s Services homeless and diversion programs, said Pino’s story is typical of the area’s chronically homeless.

Housing and Urban Development, which administers numerous programs to fight the problem, defines chronic homelessness as having been homeless for one year or more at a time. About 89 of the 716 homeless counted by social service professionals in January 2015 said they were chronically homeless. Of those 716, 115 had been homeless five years or more, up from 40 in 2011.

Most have been to jail or prison (58.1 percent in 2015), and most (59 percent) have been traumatized in some fashion, and more than 83 percent of them said that event was affecting them today.

“If you have a drug charge, that severely limits your housing options,” Foster said. “Obviously, there’s been an increase in substance abuse throughout the state. That’s just an ongoing problem. People are getting caught now. Once they get that drug charge, their hopes of housing are pretty dim – unless they have enough income to just pay flat out, and most don’t. It’s nearly impossible to live on Social Security if you’re not in some type of subsidized housing.”

A Way Home for Tulsa, local arm of a national effort to provide housing for the homeless, of which F&CS is a partner, aims to eliminate chronic homelessness in Tulsa by Dec. 31 2016.

The effort kicked off in June, and Tulsa is one of 75 cities participating. F&CS, a nonprofit community health center that helps one in six Tulsans, is providing mental health resources in the collaboration, joined by 23 other community service organizations, including Restore Hope and Community Service Council.

Pino came to F&CS after he was arrested at a Tulsa gas station. He began a treatment plan to address his mental illness and help get him off the street. His new apartment affords him prepared meals, and he can be around others who’re making the same strides toward recovery.

F&CS is also helping him get his Social Security reinstated by connecting him with Legal Aid. He has a cellphone now and is working to get his driver’s license back while attending his therapy sessions and staying up on his medication.

“Family and Children’s Services, they do a great job,” Pino said.

Bama CEO meets with potential WIR employers

WIR Womens Council July 2015 2

Bama Companies CEO Paula Marshall hosted Tulsa area manufacturers and nonprofits at our Women in Recovery program last Wednesday, one of several she has hosted to encourage more employers to hire program graduates.

Joining her were Amber Hatten, HR Director, Webco Industries; Bret Baker, COO, Pro Recruiters; Phil Albert, President, Pelco Structural; Isaac Rocha, Community Relations & Development Officer, Bama Companies; Laurie Graves, People Systems Director, Bama Companies; Shannan Drummond, General Manger, Pratt Industries; Richard Haldeman, President and CEO, Southwestern Regional Medical Center at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

We’d like to thank each of our attendees for their time, and encourage them to join other satisfied employers who’ve hired our graduates. Utmost thanks goes to Marshall for organizing the event.

Also in attendance were representatives from Tulsa Technology Center, Workforce Tulsa, Resonance, Tulsa Reentry and Goodwill Industries.

For more information on hiring WIR graduates, go to http://www.fcsok.org/services/wir/.

Oklahoma Department of Human Services lauds F&CS child support program

Claudia Arthrell Child Support Services Award

Claudia Arthrell, F&CS senior director of professional services, holds F&CS’ award from the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Monday honoring the agency for its work for DHS’ Child Support Services’ division, helping parents navigate the child support system while also providing access to classes, resources and other services in the area.

TULSA, Okla. – The Oklahoma Department of Human Services honored Family & Children’s Services this week with a State Coordinator’s Award for its efforts helping parents stay connected to their children after divorce or an ended relationship.

DHS praised F&CS’ Parent Connections program, which F&CS contracts with DHS to provide, as the model for the state, crediting it with numerous advancements among its Child Support Services clients in the Tulsa area.

“This is a huge honor for our hardworking employees in Parent Connections,” said Claudia Arthrell, F&CS senior director of professional services, who oversees the program.

Parent Connections staff help clients with visitation plans, reducing arguing with the other parent, improving parent-child relationships and locating services.

F&CS is expanding the Child Support Services portion of the program, which served 570 people in Tulsa County in 2014, to include Creek and Rogers counties.

Parent Connections also offers parenting classes through F&CS’ central office, 650 S. Peoria Ave., in helping children cope with divorce, cooperative parenting and divorce, active parenting for step families, and surviving conflict.

For more information, go to www.fcsok.org, or contact F&CS Chief Communications and Development Officer Melanie Henry at 918-560-1128.

 

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.