Pauls Valley, OK, Pauls Valley Democrat

October 15, 2013

DHS receives $1 million in grant funds

Program looks at child care and school readiness

Norman Transcript

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma — The Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) has been awarded just over one million dollars in grants to help state and local organizations prevent long-term homelessness among at-risk youth in foster care and determine the effect of child care on school readiness.

The two-year plan for at-risk foster care youth will be funded by a $720,000 grant from the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) Family Youth and Services Bureau in Washington, D.C. 

The Road to Independence (RTI) Network will create a plan to develop a continuum of care, starting with foster care and continuing with independent living services. The target population is youth who are currently living in foster care group homes or in mental health programs, 14 to 17 years old, or youth who are exiting foster care. These youth are at high risk for homelessness, victimization and poverty. Tulsa and Oklahoma counties will be the primary focus of the project.

"This grant provides Oklahoma with an opportunity to pull the community and other systems together to support young people in a more effective way," says Deborah Smith, DHS Director of Child Welfare Services. "DHS is open to new ideas and partnerships and an improved vision for these vulnerable youth. We can't do it alone."

DHS was also awarded a $300,000 grant for a three-year project called the Oklahoma School Readiness Reach-by-Risk Index.

The project aims to identify gaps in the availability of quality early childhood education and family service programs across the state, determine the effects of subsidized child care on school readiness, and investigate changes in the profile of families who receive subsidies. The project goal is to increase access by low-income families to high-quality programs and promote positive learning and school readiness outcomes for children.

"Children who have access to high quality early childhood experiences are better prepared to enter school and have better outcomes throughout their lives," says Lesli Blazer, DHS Director of Child Care Services. "This opportunity is especially critical for children living in poverty. This grant will provide valuable data that we can use to evaluate the effectiveness of our programs."

Follow this link to learn more about the Oklahoma School Readiness Reach-by-Risk Index.

Follow this link to learn more about the Road to Independence Network (RIN).