The Pottawatomie County Child Welfare Collaborative has been awarded a $330,000 grant from the Avedis Foundation, a nonprofit located in Shawnee that supports projects directly benefiting the health, wellness, and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County and surrounding communities.

This marks the second time the Avedis Foundation has awarded a grant to the collaborative.

The collaborative was established through the Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan and is a partnership between DHS, nonprofit organizations, the faith community, and other agencies. The key purpose of the collaborative is to help Pottawatomie County improve child well-being and strengthen the child-serving system. The grant ensures a funding plan to enable these public/private partnerships to continue providing services in the future.

“The Avedis Foundation applauds the efforts of the agencies involved in the Pottawatomie County Child Welfare Collaborative and their signature project, the Partners in Caring Coordinated Health Team,” said Paula Waters, Avedis Foundation Program Director. “We strongly endorse this team of dedicated professionals who work alongside our public schools to provide critical frontline support services to children and families. This innovative public/private partnership meets the Avedis mission of addressing health, wellness, and quality of life in Pottawatomie County and surrounding communities. We believe that the return on investment for this project is being realized in improved outcomes for our most valuable resource… our children.”

The Southern Pottawatomie County Coordinated School Health Team is one of the most intensive projects of the collaborative. It was launched in 2012 in four school systems: Asher, Maud, Macomb, and Wanette.

"As a rural community and school, necessary resources are not always conveniently accessible,” said Terry Grissom, Superintendent of Asher Public Schools. “That can often mean residents and students are not able to take advantage of resources that would significantly improve their quality of life. Thanks to the Avedis Foundation grant, we can now bring those services to the community and we’re excited about that. This is truly a fine example of people working together to make a difference right here in our own backyard."


In 2014, DHS child welfare received more than 200 reports of alleged child abuse or neglect in Pottawatomie County. The grant money will help the collaborative continue to work with families who are at-risk for child welfare involvement and gain access to services to keep children safe.

“The Avedis Foundation and the Pottawatomie County Child Welfare Collaborative work together to provide the opportunity to reach children and families in remote rural areas of the county,” said Karrie Utterback, DHS Program Coordinator. “The grant award allows for the provision of basic services and resources not available to children and families in their home communities. The coordinated school health team, Partners in Caring, can be a first-line responder to assist in the recognition of needs and then help families access services to improve their health and quality of life. We are very grateful and appreciative to the Avedis Foundation for their generosity.

This year’s grant will also help expand the “Early Birds” school readiness program, suicide prevention training, coordinated health services to additional schools in the county, and host a regional conference to strengthen joint-response efforts between stakeholders.

“We are so grateful to the Avedis Foundation because they were willing to leverage their leadership and provide funding to nurture and strengthen existing nonprofits as well as develop new projects,” said Dr. Deborah Shropshire, DHS Deputy Director of Community Partnerships. “It is an approach that is visionary – trying to make an immediate impact on the community while building toward the future.”

For more information about the Avedis Foundation, go to