$15 million in Coronavirus Relief Funds to be dedicated to serving Oklahoma children and families
OKLAHOMA CITY (Aug. 3, 2020) – Governor Kevin Stitt and First Lady Sarah Stitt, along with Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives Justin Brown, today announced the launch of 30 Community HOPE Centers to be stood up by the end of 2020 that will serve approximately 4,200 children and their adult caregivers. Gov. Stitt and the CARES Forward Team have approved an initial $15 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF) to support this statewide effort.
“The First Lady and I have put a stake in the ground to address and reverse the effects of Adverse Childhood Experiences in our state,” said Gov. Stitt. “This important, transformative work will develop pathways for children and families to overcome this difficult time. Strengthening Oklahoma’s families has generational impacts and will help us continue our forward momentum toward Top Ten status.”
Community HOPE Centers will utilize community partnerships to provide critical services to families using the science of HOPE as their foundation and will serve children ages 5-18 as well as their adult caregivers.
“The negative effects of childhood trauma are significant and multi-generational,” said First Lady Sarah Stitt. “By providing mental health services, social-emotional learning programs, and educational and nutritional support, these HOPE Centers will be a foundational step to mitigating the negative impacts of COVID in Oklahoma and will ultimately lead to becoming a Hope-Centered state.”
Each Community HOPE Center will have mental health professionals, OKDHS staff, virtual learning tools such as computers and iPads, meals and snacks, a weekend backpack program and other programming available to support families.
“Our communities, especially our most vulnerable children are hurting as a result of COVID-19. We have an opportunity to deploy innovative, collaborative solutions across the state,” said Secretary of Human Services and Early Childhood Initiatives Justin Brown. “The Community HOPE Center model allows us to anchor numerous resources where they are needed most so families can truly thrive.”
Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) will collaborate with and invest in existing community partners to help stand-up and operate Community HOPE Centers. The initial site will serve youth in the Capitol Hill area of Oklahoma City and will be operated by the Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County, with plans to expand to other areas of the Oklahoma City metro, Tulsa, and other communities around the state.
“When the pandemic hit our state, the needs of our kids and families expanded tremendously, and our motto of doing “Whatever it Takes to Build Great Futures” took on a completely new meaning,” said President and CEO of Boys and Girls Clubs of Oklahoma County Teena Belcik. “We are proud to expand our reach and to be the first site to open. We will begin serving kids next week, and we look forward to working with OKDHS, Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth-serving organizations across the state as we collectively serve more kids and families, and with deeper impact.”
Community HOPE Centers will follow safety protocols determined by Oklahoma State Department of Health guidelines related to use of PPE, social distancing, sanitation and use of masks.