Although Great Plains Youth and Family Services has served Jackson and surrounding counties for more than 20 years, they have been notified by the Oklahoma State Department of Health that all funding to the Start Right program of the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) is being eliminated as of July 1 due to state budget cuts.
GPYFS supervisor and Family Support Assessment and Support Worker Emma Shandor said, “The Start Right program is a family support program that is offered to expectant and new parents, and at-risk parents who lack resources and parenting skills. We teach them how to provide safe, loving and nurturing home environments for their children.The program is proven to contribute to improved child birth outcomes, promote school readiness, and reduce the number of harmful parenting practices that end in abuse and neglect.”
Shandor added that many young moms and dads struggling to become positive parents and community members will feel the devastating blow of the elimination of the Start Right program. “What is most harmful and awful though is the unknown answer to the question ‘what will happen to the children?’”
“The complete elimination of the Start Right program is inconsistent with how we treat our children in Oklahoma,” said Kody Suanny, Executive Director of the GPYFS. “It just seems cruel.”
April is Child Abuse Prevention Month and on Tuesday, April 12 child advocate groups and supporters will visit the Oklahoma State Capital for OK Child Abuse and Prevention Day. GPYFS, along with Shandor, said they will encourage Oklahoma lawmakers to work with OSDH and find a better solution to filling the budget hole.
The Great Plains Youth and Family Services Inc. serves Beckham, Greer, Jackson, Kiowa, Tillman and Washita Counties.
Reach Mary O. Esparza at 580-482-1221, ext. 2077