OKLAHOMA CITY -- There is an urgent need for emergency foster care homes all across Oklahoma.
Children and youth who are removed from dangerous or unhealthy situations often need another place to stay and there may not be much notice.
Every child deserves to be safe and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) has partnered with Anne Monroney Youth Services in Okmulgee County to find families who will open their homes to these children and youth in an emergency. The length of stay may be a few days or several months but the end result is the same - these children need a safe home.
"When children are removed from their home due to concerns for their safety, it can be a very frightening experience, adding another trauma to their lives," says OKDHS Okmulgee County Director Tricia Howell. "Being able to be placed in their own community allows children to continue being connected with important people in their lives, such as family and friends. This also allows more frequent contact with family members and encourages many families to make needed changes so their children can be returned home safely."
In 2011, Okmulgee County received 785 reports of alleged abuse or neglect involving 1,315 children. OKDHS child welfare caseworkers investigated 329 of those reports involving 545 children. Of those 329 reports, child welfare confirmed 65 cases of abuse and neglect on 109 Okmulgee County children.
"OKDHS is looking for all kinds of families to care for the children placed in OKDHS custody," says Howell. "If you or your family can provide a safe and loving home for a child for a few days or for a lifetime, we want to visit with you about becoming a foster parent or an emergency shelter home placement."
The Anne Monroney Shelter Home Program provides short term placements for infants and children up to age 18. In 2011, the average stay for a child in an emergency shelter home was three days and the average age of the child was six.
If you are interested in making your home an emergency shelter home, please call Judy Jackson at 918-756-7700. If you are interested in becoming a foster parent, call Laura Andrews or Amber Preble at 918-752-2000.