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Task Force Says Coordination of Services to Help Kids Affected by Trauma Must Improve

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A task force put in charge of studying best practices to help kids affected by trauma says the state and partner agencies must do a better job bringing their services together.

Annette Wisk Jacobi is co-chair of Oklahoma’s Task Force on Trauma-Informed Care and Director of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth. She said Oklahoma has a good track record of implementing services based on trauma-informed care principles, but there’s a lack of coordination that’s becoming especially troubling.

"Unfortunately, as the years have gone on and we’ve had tough budget years, we’ve seen those services maybe erode, particularly — and I can’t underscore this enough, even though I’m sitting in a metropolitan area – rural Oklahoma is struggling for services," Wisk Jacobi said.

There is a broad range of services that can help children and families dealing with things like economic stress, addiction and violence, but it can often take an entire day of looking through different state agency and nonprofit websites to find needed services available in a certain area.

The task force is trying to put in place a cross-systems coordinator with grant funding and set up an online platform to help service providers see where they are needed. For now, Wisk Jacobi said 211 is the best resource for Oklahomans in need of assistance for problems affecting their kids and families.

Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo is a task force co-chair and Director of the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity at OSU Center for Health Sciences. She said the state can pay money to improve service delivery now or pay with interest later when unaddressed trauma leads to bad outcomes.

"As a state, we do pay. We pay in terms of the cost of putting too many people in prison and the cost of drug overdose and the cost of family violence," Hays-Grudo said.

Oklahoma House Children, Youth and Family Services Chair Rep. Carol Bush (R-Tulsa) encouraged the pursuit of public-private partnerships, given the state’s bleak budget picture.

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