Lifestyles
Monday June 18, 2018

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OKW News | South East Oklahoma Latest News

  • Tuesday Lunch at the Museum…

    The LeFlore County Historical Society will be holding their next Tuesday Lunch on June 19th from 11 to 1pm.

    The…

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  • Decorating Wisely: Vacation

    This past week has been spent on a much-needed vacation in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. It has been nice to get away and…

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  • Consumers Warned to Avoid…

    www.health.ok.govThe Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has joined public health officials from multiple…

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  • Oklahomans Should Be On Alert…

    Press release

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s 675,000 residents on Medicare will get new, more secure cards starting this…

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  • What to do When ticks bite

    By Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist, Agricultural Communications Services- Oklahoma State University

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  • Men Encouraged to Make Their…

    From www.health.ok.gov

    The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) is celebrating Men’s Health Month during June.

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  • OSDH Warns Residents of…

    Press release

    Summer is heating up, and as temperatures rise, so does the risk of heat-related illness.

    Each year,…

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  • Decorating Wisely: Sure-fire…

    By Grayson Wise

    Hello, hello! You may be wondering why my mom isn’t writing this week, and you may also be wondering…

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  • Oklahoma State doing more to…

    Press release

    Center for Pediatric Psychology enhances OSU’s ability to make a difference

    (STILLWATER, Okla., June…

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  • Mississippi Pot Roast

    Ingredients

    1 (3-4 pounds) chuck roast

    1 packet ranch dressing mix

    1 packet au jus gravy mix

    1/4 cup butter

    4-5…

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  • Helping kids avoid head lice…

    Leilana McKindra, Communications Specialist- Agricultural Communications Services - Oklahoma State University

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  • Riverside Autoplex to hold…

    Join the staff at Riverside Autoplex of Poteau on Tuesday, June 19, 2018, from 2 PM - 6:15 PM as they team up with…

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  • OSDH Launches New State of…

    Press release

    The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) has unveiled a new website for the updated State of the…

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  • For the Children: Grades are…

    By OICA CEO Joe Dorman

    The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is excited to announce that we have posted…

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  • House Dems Respond to…

    Press release

    OKLAHOMA CITY – Several House Democrats have released statements of praise for Virginia Democrats who…

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Health & Wellness

Press release from TSET

 

Oklahoma City, OK – More Oklahomans are reaching out to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline for help quitting tobacco use, making the helpline one of the top-ranked programs in the nation.

 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, a free service available 24/7 to Oklahomans who want help quitting tobacco, saw a 38 percent increase in the number of Oklahomans enrolling in services in 2017.

 

With record registrations over the past two years and a high reach rate across the state, the Helpline is also exceeding national benchmarks for success with a 32.2 percent quit rate for Helpline callers who report 30-days smokefree 7 months after registering for services. Typical quit rates for the cold turkey method are at 5 percent. Tobacco users from all 77 counties, a wide range of ages and socio-economic status accessed the Helpline’s free services.

 

“TSET expanded Helpline services in 2015 with an emphasis on meeting the tobacco user where they are and to provide more options to help them quit,” said John Woods, TSET executive director. “This expansion of services, along with the support of media and other TSET programs like the Healthy Living Program reinforce these messages, helping Oklahoma reach nearly 5 percent of smokers in Oklahoma – one of the highest reach rates of any quitline in the country.”

 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline uses proven, best-practice methods to provide free, cessation services to help Oklahomans quit tobacco. Oklahomans can register for services by calling 1-800-QUIT-NOW, online at OKhelpline.com, or receive a referral from a healthcare provider. Tobacco users can choose from a variety of free services from the traditional telephone counseling program to expanded services including nicotine replacement therapy (NRT), web-based assistance, text messaging, emails, and a Quit Guide.

 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has been instrumental in bringing Oklahoma’s smoking rate to an all-time low, with 19.6 percent of Oklahoma adults smoking, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“High utilization of the Helpline, high satisfaction in services, and favorable quit rates for those who used the services further support that the investment TSET is making in tobacco control is contributing to the record low smoking rate,” said Laura Beebe, PhD, Professor in the Department of Biostatistics & Epidemiology at University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, who conducted the review of the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline data for fiscal year 2017, which runs July 1, 2016 through June 30, 2017.

 

The Helpline also expanded its reach to high-risk target audiences and increased the age and socio-economic range of registrants.

 

“Tobacco users over the age of 55 accounted for about 30 percent of Helpline users, which is critical because the longer a smoker smokes, the more likely they are to experience negative health consequences,” Woods said. “Expanded services such as text messages and email offer more choices and utilize the technology preferred by many tobacco users – especially males, smokers with a higher level of education, and younger tobacco users.”

In addition to tobacco users calling or registering via web, health care providers can proactively refer their patients who want help quitting to the Helpline. During fiscal year 2017, more than 18,000 referrals were made by health professionals and health systems across the state.

 

Over the last seven years, TSET has layered in funded grants that work with hospitals to ensure that doctors are talking with their patients about tobacco use, referrals are being made to the Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline, and participating hospitals are tobacco-free environments. Physicians working in rural and underserved areas through the TSET-funded Oklahoma Medical Loan Repayment Program are also making referrals to the Helpline.

 

The Helpline was the first program funded by TSET in 2003. Since then, more than 360,000 tobacco users received free services to quit tobacco.

 

TSET was created by a constitutional amendment in 2000 as a long-term strategy to improve health and ensure settlement payments from a 1998 multi-state lawsuit against the tobacco industry are used to improve the health of all Oklahomans. The funds are placed in an endowment to ensure a growing funding source for generations to come. Only the earnings from the endowment are used to fund grants and programs.

 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline is a free service for Oklahomans wanting to quit tobacco. Funding is primarily provided by the Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET), in partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The Oklahoma Tobacco Helpline has served more than 360,000 Oklahomans since 2003 and has been ranked among the top quitline’s for reaching tobacco users seeking treatment over the last decade by the North American Quitline Consortium.

 

The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.

Press release

 

Attorney General Hunter receives hands-on demonstration at local Walmart pharmacy


OKLAHOMA CITY – Attorney General Mike Hunter today met at a local Walmart pharmacy with officials from Walmart and DisposeRx to receive a hands-on demonstration of an innovative new initiative to help curb the nation’s opioid abuse epidemic.


Walmart announced last week it would carry and distribute the opioid disposal solution, known as DisposeRx, in all of its 4,700 pharmacies nationwide, free of charge. Additionally, pharmacists have been trained to help educate customers on how to safely and effectively use the product.


DisposeRx is a powder that when mixed with warm water in a pill bottle, creates a gel that can responsibly be thrown out with household trash.


Attorney General Hunter applauded Walmart’s efforts for taking the lead by being the first retail pharmacy in the nation to utilize the program.


“The pioneering initiative from a corporate partner like Walmart is a positive step in the battle against the opioid epidemic,” Attorney General Hunter said. “It is reported that more than two out of three individuals who misuse opioids get them from a medicine cabinet and approximately 80 percent of heroin users abused prescription painkillers first. This is a simple solution to the growing problem of unused prescription pain medication left in the household.”
For more on what Attorney General Hunter is doing to combat the state’s opioid epidemic, click here: http://bit.ly/2BvWioq


The new program comes after more than 64,000 individuals in the United States died from a drug overdose in 2016, up from 59,000 deaths in 2015, the largest jump in the nation’s history.


In Oklahoma over the last 15 years, drug overdose deaths have increased by 91 percent. Between 2015 and 2016 the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported overdose deaths in the state increased by 13.2 percent.
“We wanted to do our part to help curb one of the issues contributing to this deadly epidemic – unused prescriptions in our medicine cabinets,” said Walmart Market Health and Wellness Director Robyn Janaway. “Providing an easy, free, responsible and convenient way to dispose of unused medicine will make an impact and help prevent misuse.”


As part of the program, patients filling Class II opioid prescriptions at Walmart pharmacies now receive a DisposeRx packet and an opioid safety brochure. Additionally, patients can request a free DisposeRx packet at any time.
“The way out of the current crisis will take innovative thinking, combined with the collaboration of local businesses, community leaders and local and state governments,” said DisposeRx CFO Dennis Wiggins. “We all have a role to play, whether through public policy, or community partnerships, but as long as we are working together in a systematic way, we will ensure the next generation will be a better place.”




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From left: DisposeRx CFO and Co-Founder Dennis Wiggins, Walmart Pharmacist Jennifer Roberts and Attorney General Mike Hunter discuss how pharmacy patients use DisposeRx.
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The DisposeRx powder, when mixed with water in a pill bottle, creates a gel that can be thrown away with household trash. DisposeRx is available in all of Walmart's 4,700 pharmacies nationwide, free of charge.

Press release

 

Oklahoma City—A first-ever report of its kind studying the national trend of rising numbers of children in state foster care as well as the concurrent decrease in the numbers of foster homes shows Oklahoma had the greatest increase in foster care capacity in the nation.

 

Oklahoma was among only three states that also showed a constant or lower number of children and youth in foster care, according to the report. At least half of the states in the U.S. have seen their foster care capacity decrease in the past five years, or any increase in beds has been dwarfed by an even greater increase in children and youth in foster care.

 

“We are so proud that all of our hard work over the past five years to improve Oklahoma’s foster care system is being recognized; however, what is most important is that we have improved the experiences of children who come into contact with our system due to abuse or neglect,” said Jami Ledoux, director of child welfare services for the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS).

 

“While we focused efforts with Governor Fallin and the Oklahoma Fosters Initiative to recruit more foster families, we were simultaneously increasing family-centered services to keep children safe in their homes and reduce the need for foster care,” said Ledoux.

 

“I appreciate the dedication of the DHS child welfare services division staff to reduce the number of children and youth in foster care,” Governor Mary Fallin said. “I am also pleased to see how many dedicated, compassionate Oklahomans have answered the call to become foster parents. Every child deserves a family and we must continue our efforts to ensure children with special needs have the same opportunities, regardless of their needs. The findings of this report show the state is making strides in providing adequate protection and care to vulnerable Oklahoma children.”

 

Ledoux cautioned interpreting this positive report as a sign that foster families are no longer needed.


“This is huge for our state and our kids but we still have work do to. We still need foster homes for sibling groups in every community and we need homes to fit the unique needs of each child. There are brothers and sisters who are placed in different foster homes outside their communities because the right homes are not available for them. There are youth who have special medical needs or disabilities and those with behavioral challenges who are going into shelters who also need loving homes.”

 

The report by the Chronicle of Social Change looked at state data from 2012 through 2017 to see if the 11 percent increase in the numbers of children and youth in foster care nationwide has been met with a proportional increase in foster homes.

https://chronicleofsocialchange.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/The-Foster-Care-Housing-Crisis-10-31.pdf


Other key findings in the report showed that in some states, kinship care took the place of traditional foster homes as states’ overall capacity declined. However, Oklahoma increased the percentage of children going into kinship placements while also continuing to add traditional foster homes. Oklahoma was also one of only 18 states that received high marks in its last federal Child and Family Services Review for performance in the recruitment of foster families.

 

Since DHS began reforming its foster care system in 2012 through the Pinnacle Plan, the experiences of children suffering abuse or neglect have dramatically changed.

 

In Oklahoma today:
• Children are more likely to be able to safely remain in their own homes while their families get the help they need.
• Children first entering foster care are more likely to be placed with a foster family rather than in an emergency shelter.
• Children entering foster care are more likely to be placed with their own families or with someone they know.
• Children are less likely to experience multiple moves while in care.
• Children are less likely to age out of foster care without legal permanency like adoption or guardianship.
• After reunification with their families, children are less likely to reenter foster care.

 

The Pervasive Parenting Center (C.P.R.C.) and Choctaw Nation’s LeFlore County Youth Advisory Board (YAB) have combined efforts to help families in eastern Oklahoma.

 

The two organizations recently worked together to create lap pads for children in the area with special sensory processing needs.


When the PPC began looking for a way to help families they work with who have children with Sensory Processing Disorder (SPD), they began looking at ways to purchase lap pads. These pads are weighted and are used to put across the laps of children seeking pressure to cope with sensory issues.


“Children with SPD, especially those on the autism spectrum, crave pressure to help with their sensory needs,” said Kodey Toney, director of the PPC. “It can be used as a tool to calm children at times when they are on the brink of a sensory overload or a meltdown. They have also been used to help children with ADHD.”


PPC provided for the cost of the plastic pellets used to add weight to the pads, and the group went about creating the pads. The pads have been distributed to local schools and families throughout the area to help both in the classroom and at home. They are provided free to local families.


“We are truly grateful to YAB and everyone involved in the production of these pads,” said Toney. “We are always looking for ways to help families of children with disabilities. We have already seen a tremendous response from families who have received the pads.”


If you have any questions contact Kodey Toney @ 918-647-1255, 918- 658-5076 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Kodey Toney Phone: (918) 647-1255 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Pervasive Parenting Center

 

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman

 

On Monday, we saw the US Senate pass legislation to keep the federal government running for three more weeks. If passed by both bodies and signed by President Trump, the agreement would extend funding and allow further negotiations on issues outside the budget discussion.

 

Both sides in Congress feel they are fighting for a principled stand on immigration and budget reform. Democrats want to see rights given to children who were brought to the US by parents without legal status, as well as increased funding for domestic, non-defense programs. Republicans have yet to allow a vote on the issue of “Dreamers” to be given legal status, but have committed to bring this up for a vote.

 

What is the result of a government shutdown then? It is important to know, should this happen again on February 8.

 

According to a report by the DC-paper The Hill, there are 2.1 million non-postal federal employees. Half of those are deemed “essential,” such as military or law enforcement. Those employees would continue to report to work, but would only receive paychecks after a shutdown concludes. Others, classified as “non-essential,” would not be allowed to work and pay is not guaranteed unless approved by Congress. Ironically, members of Congress continue to get paid during a shutdown because their salaries are guaranteed by the U.S. Constitution.

 

Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, SNAP and disability insurance would largely remain unaffected by a shutdown as they are not funded by appropriations, but rather multi-year authorizations. Major responsibilities such as sending Social Security checks and operating the military would continue, but new applicants for Social Security and Disability would see significant slowdowns due to fewer employees processing their cases. Other agencies, such as the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would also take hits with reduced staffing.

 

The FDA would have to cancel routine safety inspections, while the CDC would be unable to fully operate their flu program. That would be especially poor timing, given that we are in the midst of one of the most severe flu outbreaks in recent history. Currently, 45 Oklahomans have died this season, and 288 Oklahomans were hospitalized just in the past week due to symptoms, according to the Oklahoma State Department of Health.

 

For kids, the best news coming from D.C. is that the three week extension includes a provision for renewal of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) for six years. This restores this major policy which expired at the end of September. Thankfully, our nation’s youth no longer risk losing their health insurance for that time period with passage of this short-term government extension.

 

While this federal stalemate is on hold for three weeks, we should not grow comfortable. We might be back to square one on February 8 should consensus not be found. In addition, if a new shutdown continues through March 1, some Head Start Programs (supporting early childhood education for low-income families) awaiting new contracts could be forced to close.

 

We should also remember that we have our own budget issues in Oklahoma. Our state government is currently operating without a complete budget for the current fiscal year and with another budget shortfall a near-certainty in the next year.

The first day of the regular 2018 state legislative session begins on February 5th. To help advocates, OICA will host an advocacy training that day to equip volunteers with tools to encourage better policies. If you can attend, please register at http://oica.org/events/women-and-children-first-advocacy-training/

 

We hope to see you there to join in our effort to get our state and federal government operating again!

 

 

About OICA
The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy was established in 1983 by a group of citizens, to create a strong advocacy network that would provide a voice for the needs of children and youth in Oklahoma, particularly those in the state’s care and those growing up amid poverty, violence, abuse and neglect, disparities, or other situations that put their lives and future at risk.

Our mission statement: “Creating awareness, taking action and changing policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.“

Copyright © 2017 OICA

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By Leilana McKindra

 

STILLWATER, Okla. – When stricter federal guidelines on the use of some antibiotics for food animals went into effect last year, producers all over the nation, including Jerry Meek in Ada, had a decision to make.


Should he spend the time and money to get a Veterinarian Feed Directive authorization from his veterinarian to continue treating his herd of about 30 cows?


Ultimately Meek decided to get the VFD authorization and his operation hasn’t missed a beat.


“Originally, when I heard about it, I thought it’s another $20 bucks I’d be spending. But, I understand where they’re coming from, if it’s something to help the market, producers and safety,” he said. “I rethought it and I appreciate they’re trying to help.”
The tightened guidelines, which went into effect Jan. 1, 2017, require producers to obtain authorization from a veterinarian to purchase medically important antibiotics, or medications important to treating human diseases, and give them to food animals through feed and drinking water.


Previously these drugs could be purchased over-the-counter, however, the FDA made the change to better track the use of antibiotics out of a concern for antimicrobial resistance.


Barry Whitworth, Oklahoma State University Cooperative Extension area food/animal quality and health specialist, said in the year since the new guidelines when into effect, there has been a mixed reaction from producers.


“Some people have been reluctant to switch over to the new requirements, so they’ve chosen not to use any products at this time,” he said. “Some people have gone to other means to control diseases such as using vaccinations.”
Meek said he has not had any issues with obtaining and using the VFD, which is renewable every six months. The charge for renewal varies by location.


“I’ve always used the medicated minerals and I’ve seen through the years of production a change in my animals and calving in doing it,” he said. “If it’s not broke, don’t worry about it. It’s not broke and it’s still working. I’m going to continue the same steps I’ve used.”


The impact of the stricter VFD is not yet known, however the big concern in Oklahoma is anaplasmosis, an infectious blood disease during which red blood cells are destroyed by the immune system causing cattle to become anemic.


“At this point in time, there hasn’t been any data gathered to show us that if people who are not using medicated minerals are having more problems with anaplasmosis than those who are,” Whitworth said.


Interestingly, some unanticipated positive trends have emerged from the strengthened VFD guidelines.


“People are talking to their vets more. We’re seeing better herd health management. We’re seeing people look more at vaccinations. We’re talking about biosecurity with people and controlling diseases,” Whitworth said. “There are things that have come out of this process we didn’t expect, but they are positive as far as for the producers and the health needs of the animals.”

 

 

On this SUNUP segment, Dr. Barry Whitworth shares an update on the Veterinary Feed Directive one year after stricter federal guidelines were implemented. http://sunup.okstate.edu/category/vet-scripts/2017/120917-vs?searchterm=veterin

 

 

Oklahoma State University, in compliance with Title VI and VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, Executive Order 11246 as amended, and Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (Higher Education Act), the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, and other federal and state laws and regulations, does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, genetic information, sex, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, disability, or status as a veteran, in any of its policies, practices or procedures. This provision includes, but is not limited to admissions, employment, financial aid, and educational services. The Director of Equal Opportunity, 408 Whitehurst, OSU, Stillwater, OK 74078-1035; phone 405-744-5371; email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. has been designated to handle inquiries regarding non-discrimination policies: Director of Equal Opportunity. Any person (student, faculty, or staff) who believes that discriminatory practices have been engaged in based on gender may discuss his or her concerns and file informal or formal complaints of possible violations of Title IX with OSU’s Title IX Coordinator 405-744-9154.

 

Press release


As the number of flu-related hospitalizations continues to increase, the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) reminds Oklahomans there is still time to get a flu shot.


OSDH reports a total of 22 deaths and more than 1,000 hospitalizations associated with the flu since the season began in September. More than half of the hospitalizations have occurred among individuals 50 years and older.


Public health influenza vaccination clinics are available at county health departments, medical providers and pharmacies throughout the state. The OSDH wants to remind Oklahomans that everyone is at risk for influenza and the flu vaccination is recommended for anyone 6 months of age and older.


Vaccination is especially important for people at high risk for serious illness from the flu including pregnant women, children younger than 5 years of age and people with asthma, diabetes, chronic heart and lung disease and other chronic conditions. Parents and family members of babies younger than 6 months of age and people who live with or care for anyone at high risk for complications from the flu, including health care workers, should also get the vaccine.


Symptoms of the flu include cough, fever, chills, headache, body aches and fatigue.


It is important for those experiencing flu-like symptoms to consult with a healthcare provider as soon as possible. A provider may prescribe antiviral drugs to treat the flu. These drugs work better for treatment when started within 48 hours of noticing symptoms. Antiviral drugs may also be indicated as a prevention measure for especially vulnerable persons who have been in close contact with someone sick with the flu, infants less than 6 months old, adults 65 years of age and older, pregnant women, or anyone with a medical condition which severely suppresses their immune system.


In addition to getting a flu shot, public health officials recommend the following prevention tips:


• Frequent hand washing using soap and water, or alcohol-based products such as hand gels when hands are not visibly soiled.
• Make respiratory hygiene a habit, using tissues to cover coughs and sneezes, then disposing of them and washing hands at once. When tissues are not readily available, cough into your sleeve, never your hands
• Stay home from work, school and other public places, except to get medical care or other necessities, until you have gone at least 24 hours without the use of fever-reducing medicine.



Press release


Oklahoma City—The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) has made “discernible progress” in its efforts to reform the state’s foster care system according to the child welfare experts, referred to as Co-Neutrals, monitoring the agency’s efforts to implement the Pinnacle Plan.


The latest commentary from the Co-Neutrals covering DHS’ performance through June 30, 2017, shows the agency is making good faith efforts to achieve substantial and sustained progress in almost every area of the system they are working to improve. In three areas--placement stability, therapeutic foster care, and the metric involving shelter use for children ages 6-12, the Co-Neutrals are reserving judgement to allow DHS more time to fully implement an enhanced set of “core strategies” which are expected to yield positive results for children and youth with the highest intellectual and emotional needs.


In their report, the Co-Neutrals make particular note of the state’s budget pressures which threaten “the pace and progress of the overall reform effort at a critical time.”


“The Co-Neutrals urge Oklahoma’s leaders to stay the course in funding DHS’ core strategies to achieve substantial and sustained progress on behalf of the state’s most vulnerable children. This includes the commitments to ensure that DHS has a sufficient number of well-trained and well supported foster homes and an adequate number of caseworkers and other key staff to achieve better outcomes for children. A material reversal in support is likely to compromise the still tenuous foundation upon which DHS has sought to build this reform, and undermine the years of public investment.”


Governor Mary Fallin said this report shows the state and DHS are making progress in strengthening child welfare services.


“My thanks go out to DHS employees for their hard work, as well as Oklahoma legislators for making the necessary financial commitment to support these important reforms,” said Fallin. “The success of the reforms to the child welfare system is critical to ensuring the state can provide adequate protection and care to vulnerable Oklahoma children. It is crucial that Oklahoma provide its full attention and adequate resources to ensure DHS can continue to meet its obligations to improve child welfare services.”
“We are gratified this report documents the progress being made in so many areas essential to the well-being of the children for whom we’re responsible,” said DHS Director Ed Lake. “The support of Governor Fallin and the Legislature of our efforts over time has been absolutely central to our progress to date, and we are extremely grateful for the investments Oklahoma has made in the child welfare system,” said Lake. “That support is definitely still needed if we are to ultimately succeed in meeting the terms of our “settlement agreement” (the Pinnacle Plan) and maintaining a quality child welfare system.”


“The guidance and urging of the Co-Neutrals in creating sound strategies and the very hard work of our employees all across DHS and of our many service partners in effectively implementing those strategies are paying dividends,” said Lake. “And thanks, too, to the Plaintiffs, with whom we meet regularly, for their input and feedback on the specifics of our efforts. We are united in our desire to better serve the children and youth in our care.”


Jami Ledoux, Child Welfare Services Director, expressed her gratitude to those who have worked with the agency to help serve children and families.


“DHS cannot do this work alone and we believe our successes are shared by all Oklahomans who have stepped up to become foster families, to those who provide support to foster families and to biological families as they are reunited,” said Ledoux. “We greatly appreciate all of the agencies who work alongside us in providing services to the children in our care.”


In their report, the co-neutrals made note of the agency’s success in the recruitment of new foster homes. During the first half of the fiscal year 2017, DHS approved 431 new foster homes, the highest number of new homes DHS has approved during the first half of any fiscal year during this reform effort. They also noted DHS has continued its commitment to reducing incidents of abuse or neglect of children in its care and, for the first time, has exceeded its starting baseline on the target measure.


Tom Bates, Special Adviser to Governor Fallin and Interim Advocate General for the Office of Client Advocacy, said the progress DHS has made in this reform effort is remarkable. “I am particularly pleased with the progress to reduce abuse and neglect of children in our care. Many of the youth in DHS custody today have unique intellectual and behavioral needs, which makes caring for them extremely challenging. DHS’ trauma-informed approach is working but we will need additional resources to ensure these youth are safe and accepted in communities around the state.”


The co-neutrals also recognized the significant change in practice regarding placing children in emergency shelters and the agency’s efforts to ensure all potential family-based placements have been exhausted before a child enters a shelter. DHS has increased the number of children whose first placement was in a kinship home, either with relatives or someone they know. Data analysis and research has shown that these placements are more stable and reduce the chances of children experiencing a move while in foster care.


About the Pinnacle Plan
Since DHS began reforming its foster care system in 2012 through the Pinnacle Plan, the experiences of children who were victims of abuse or neglect have dramatically changed.


In Oklahoma today:
• Children are more likely to be able to safely remain in their own homes while their families get the help they need.
• Children first entering foster care are more likely to be placed with a family rather than in an emergency shelter.
• Children entering foster care are more likely to be placed with their own families or with someone they know.
92 percent of children in DHS custody are placed with families.
• Children are less likely to experience multiple moves while in care.
• Children are less likely to age out of foster care without legal permanency like adoption or guardianship.
• After reunification with their families, children are less likely to reenter foster care.
• DHS has safely reduced the number of children in state care by 23 percent (8,677 as of Dec. 2017) from a peak of 11,298 children in care Oct. 2014.
(Data can be provided upon request for each of these areas)

Press release


The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) joins public health partners across the nation in recognizing National Birth Defects Prevention Month to increase awareness of birth defects, the leading cause of infant mortality in the United States.


In the United States, a baby is born with a birth defect every 4 1/2 minutes. Nearly 120,000 babies are affected by birth defects each year in the U.S., with more than 2,100 cases occurring in Oklahoma. Birth defects are the most common cause of death in the first year of life, and the second most common cause of death in children 1 to 4 years old.


Although not all birth defects can be prevented, steps can be taken to increase a woman’s chance of having a healthy baby.


“Most people don’t know how common, costly, and critical birth defects are in the United States, or that there are simple steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of birth defects,” said Lisa Caton, the director of Screening and Special Services at the OSDH.
During the month of January, the OSDH will focus on four main areas to increase awareness concerning birth defects.


Alcohol use during pregnancy
Any amount of alcohol is unsafe to drink during pregnancy. Drinking alcohol while pregnant can hurt the baby’s brain, heart, kidneys, and other organs.
Drinking during pregnancy can lead to a group of conditions called Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders (FASDs). These effects can include physical challenges and difficulties with behavior and learning.


Folic acid awareness
Folic acid is an essential B-vitamin that the body needs to make new cells. Everyone needs folic acid every day. It is important for women because it can help prevent up to 70 percent of Neural Tube Defects (NTDs).

 

NTDs are serious birth defects that occur when the brain and spine are forming during the first 28 days of pregnancy before most women know they are pregnant.


The OSDH provides free multivitamins and folic acid education materials at the local county health departments. It also provides education about birth defects and folic acid to health care professionals and community members across Oklahoma. Individuals can contact their local county health department for materials or visit the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry website for a link to an order form.


Vaccinations
Vaccinations help protect the mother and child against serious diseases. Pregnant women or women who may become pregnant should get a Tdap shot. This helps protect the mother from whooping cough and passes along some protection to the baby.


Congenital cytomegalovirus (CMV) health care provider information
CMV is common in young children and is found in saliva and urine. Exposure during pregnancy increases the risk for certain birth defects in the unborn baby. Health care providers should encourage their patients to avoid putting a young child’s cup or pacifier in their mouth to reduce the risk of CMV infection.


It is important to wash your hands for 20 seconds after contact with bodily fluids to reduce the risk of getting sick.


For more information on how to have a healthy pregnancy and a healthy baby, visit the Oklahoma Birth Defects Registry website at www.obdr.health.ok.gov

 

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