Family & Children’s Services (F&CS) is one of five local nonprofits that will share $300,000 in Social Innovation grants from the Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW). The grants are given to 501(c)(3) organizations that present innovative plans to overcome challenges in the community. Ideas were presented to a panel of volunteer judges, who were looking for innovation, collaboration and non-duplication among nonprofit, educational or governmental organizations.
Funds granted F&CS will be used to partially fund an enhanced level of service to 911 callers in mental health distress by embedding COPES (Community Outreach Psychiatric Emergency Services) crisis intervention specialists in Tulsa 911 as a new first responder group. Callers will talk with an appropriate professional mental health expert who, when possible, will de-escalate and stabilize the crisis over the phone. For more urgent situations requiring an on-site crisis response, F&CS’ COPES mobile crisis team, the CRT (Community Response Team), and/or other first responders may be dispatched to the site.
Despite the 13,000 psychiatric crisis calls Tulsa 911 received last year, mental health experts have not been part of the first responder team housed in the Tulsa 911 center.
911 centers across the country are traditionally structured with first responders from each main discipline housed in one, large room. The calls are answered by 911 operators who transfer callers to the appropriate first responders located on-site: fire department takes fire calls, police department takes law enforcement calls, and the ambulance service takes medical emergencies.
“F&CS expresses immense gratitude to TAUW for their visionary leadership in funding this new partnership. The 911 center’s commitment to pilot a co-location innovation with the F&CS COPES team holds great promise. Once we complete training and go live in late February, 911 dispatchers will be able to quickly connect callers to COPES psychiatric crisis therapists,” said Gail Lapidus, F&CS’s Chief Executive Officer.
COPES 911 is a groundbreaking game changer and will firmly place Tulsa on the national leading edge of multi-layered, mental health crisis response.
“The grants allow organizations to incubate initiatives and bring new strategies to Tulsa and the surrounding area that work elsewhere and can potentially make a positive impact locally,” said Brent Sadler, Vice President of Community Investments at the Tulsa Area United Way.
Other nonprofits receiving grants and launching their new programs in 2020 include:
- Fab Lab Tulsa
- Growing Together
- Tulsa Advocates for the Protection of Children
- Met Cares
Fab Lab Tulsa will develop the MaTCH Program for recent high school graduates, not attending or planning to attend college, to learn design and digital fabrication skills. This program is designed to prepare students with valuable skills that are needed and to cultivate a highly skilled workforce in Tulsa.
Growing Together’s Community Leadership Institute provides community members with leadership and development tools to address inequality in their community. It is designed to give individuals the skills necessary to speak up and share ideas.
Mobile Resource Unit is a Tulsa Advocates for the Protection of Children initiative and will visit rural areas to deliver basic needs such as clothes, car seats and hygiene products to children in the foster care system.
Met Cares’ Level Up is a scholarship program targeted at individuals in economically-disadvantaged areas of the city. Its specific focus is on single parents striving to enhance their career and provide a strong future for their children.
About the Tulsa Area United Way
The Tulsa Area United Way (TAUW) is the only nonprofit organization in the six-county area funding 59 partner agencies whose critical services deliver the three building blocks to a better life: education, financial stability and health/safety. Since 1924, TAUW has raised and invested over $825 million to assist the lives of people in need in Creek, Okmulgee, Osage, Rogers, Wagoner and Tulsa counties. All contributions to the TAUW are invested locally, and governance is maintained by a highly dedicated Board of Directors. The 2020 Board Chair is Kirk Hays, President and CEO of Arvest Bank, Tulsa.
About Family & Children’s Services
For nearly a century, 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.