Oklahoma Dept. of Health cuts funding to child abuse prevention programs

Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH)

The Oklahoma State Department of Health announced Monday it will cut funding for nine child abuse prevention programs and 25 community health centers as of November 15th.

“We’re very sad because we know that what we do works,” said Cindy Allen, the development director of Parent Promise, one of the child abuse prevention programs that operates in Oklahoma County.

Parent Promise sends trained parent educators into the homes of at-risk families to give them the skills to create a positive environment for their children, and statistics show the program does help prevent abuse and neglect.

“93 percent of families who’ve had in-home parent education and support services don’t go into DHS,” said Allen. “That’s a pretty high percentage of success.”

Now, Allen says a third of the budget for Parent Promise will be lost, impacting about 75 families. She estimates 650 families across the state will be affected amongst all nine agencies that provide in-home parent education and support.

“It’s certainly something we didn’t want to do,” said Tony Sellars, the director of communications for the Oklahoma State Department of Health. “We believe in the programs, but it was something that was necessary at this time.”

The Oklahoma State Department of Health says the current budget situation left them no other choice but to cut those funds. The move comes as the state faces a $215 million shortfall this year after the Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down a cigarette tax.

The department is also implementing furloughs for all employees making over $35,000 in an attempt to cut costs.

“We’ve terminated other contracts with other agencies to save funds, and this is just another step we have to take to be fiscally responsible going forward,” said Sellars. “And it won’t be the last measure we have to take.”

25 Federal Qualified Health Centers will also lose funding. The department reports that FQHC contracts brought reimbursement for medical expenses not covered by insurance.

The agency expects to save $3 million in the move.

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