Child Abuse Prevention Programs Shut Down
Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin, right, announces a deal to shore up the state budget and raise pay for teachers and some state workers with a series of tax increases during a news conference in Oklahoma City, Monday, Oct. 23, 2017, but it’s unclear if there is enough support to pass the plan. At left is state House Speaker Charles McCall, R-Atoka and other members of the legislature. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)
Students looking for careers in child abuse prevention programs will need to reconsider after the states shutdown of Oklahoma’s child abuse prevention programs last week.
The state revenue shortfall is to blame for the Oklahoma Health Departments cutoff of programs like Parent Promise, which helps strengthen families while helping prevent the neglect and abuse of Oklahoma’s children.
Parent Promise accomplishes its goals by keeping children safe and by teaching at-risk parents how to be parents.
“The shutdown of our program alone, will impact 75 families,” said Executive Director of Parent Promise, Sherry Fair. “But if you look at all the contractors statewide and all the families they’re serving, then you’re looking at more like 650 families that were impacted by the decision of the health department.”
“Our families come to depend on our services,” said Fair. “We have trained parent educators that come into the home. These educators are graduates with degrees. They develop a relationship with these families, because many of these families don’t have a support system of their own.”
The program not only provides vulnerable families with support; it also provides them with diapers, books, and baby food.
In 2016, 93% of children enrolled in the home visitation programs like Parent Promise have never had a confirmed child maltreatment case with the Oklahoma Department of Human Services.
“We’ve been around for over 30 years and have been with the state for over 20,” said Fair. “The state’s own statistics show that these programs are working perfectly. Over 90-percent is a good thing, we are trying to alleviate the stresses from other agencies like the Department of Human Services and the Department of Corrections.”
The Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention Act was created in 1984 and declares the prevention of child maltreatment as a priority in Oklahoma. However, it does not state directly the importance of prevention rather than “after-the-fact” intervention.
“The cost of prevention on the front-end is far less than the fallout once children become victims,” said Fair. “If we can work with these families before-hand, it can lessen the chances of bad things happening later on. Which, in turn, helps the state save more money in the long run.”
In the next few days, the board of Parent Promise will be working to determine the next steps to raise the nearly $300,000 needed to continue to serve their families.
Programs like Parent Promise which have been shut down, continue to provide for those families in need.
“In the future, I would like to see core programs like ours fully-funded,” said Fair. “They need to be fully-funded. Our board and our staff are passionate to continue to provide for the families that need it. We have got to do a better job as a state to fix our budget problem.”