Collaborative receives nearly $400,000 in grant funds from the Avedis Foundation

Vicky O. Misa
Partners In Caring child welfare collaborative partners and Avedis Foundation board members gather for a photo.

The Partners In Caring Collaborative (PIC) recently received a $398,218.17 grant from the Avedis Foundation.

PIC is a coordinated school health team that operates using an evidence-based model — Whole School. Whole Community. Whole Child — recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

In 2012, the Pottawatomie County Child Welfare Collaborative and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services created a partnership to address the high numbers of child death and child maltreatment cases in the county, and improve overall child well-being in the community. The holistic and comprehensive model is a school-based interdisciplinary approach bringing public health and social services into the school setting, through the provision of direct services, resources and policy consultation.

Since beginning the initiative, PIC has increased immunization rates, improved overall child health and brought a wide range of resources to the schools served.

“Partners In Caring brings a high quality coordinated care system to communities, children and families in Pottawatomie and Lincoln Counties and has demonstrated success by improving child well-being,”Avedis Foundation President Dr. Kathy Laster, said. “The Avedis Foundation is proud to partner with such a dedicated team that works tirelessly for children and families in our communities.”

She said the success of this program can be directly attributed to the grassroots effort that includes devoted individuals in the best position to know what the needs are — and identify those needs for successful outcomes.

PIC began providing on-site, full-time, team-based physical, mental, emotional and social service supports to schools and families in rural, underserved communities in 2013. PIC began officially in the Southern Pottawatomie County School Consortium (Asher, Macomb, Maud and Wanette) in 2014 with the expansion into McLoud Public Schools. In 2015 and 2016 Prague and Meeker Schools, in southern Lincoln County, were included in the service area.

The combined student enrollment of these districts is more than 4,700.

The targeted schools in both counties are in rural regions and the counties are designated as both medical health and mental health professional shortage areas.

Not only does the PIC team provide services to the entire student body, parents and faculty, intensive wraparound services are provided to high risk students through the Inner School Referral System. Since implementation, 792 referrals for high risk students have been made.

Current Collaborative Funded Partners are Asher Public Schools; Gateway to Prevention and Recovery; McLoud Public Schools; North Oklahoma County Medical Health Center; Prague Public Schools; and Youth and Family Services.

“It is with great dedication for providing high quality services serving children and families, a heart of servitude and overwhelming gratitude, that the Child Welfare Collaborative receives its seventh consecutive year of funding from the Avedis Foundation,” Executive Director Brandy Smith, Youth and Family Resource Center, said.

“The mission of this partnership is to develop a shared local vision for children’s services and to promote partnerships with civic leaders, child advocates, state and local agencies, and nonprofits,” Smith said. “As the result of an innovative public/private funding partnership between the Avedis Foundation, the Pottawatomie Child Welfare Collaborative, several rural school districts in the county and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Partners in Caring Initiative was launched.”

As PIC has grown, she said the organization has continued to demonstrate the power of local solutions and local leadership.

“This community-based partnership is forging new ground in prevention and intervention that builds upon the mutual goal of improving child well-being in Oklahoma and decreasing the incidence of child abuse and neglect,” Smith said.

For more information about Partners in Caring, call (405) 275-3340.

For more information about Avedis, call (405) 273-4055.