By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
The Family Support and Prevention Service (FSPS) at the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), assisted by an interagency selection committee, recognized outstanding child abuse prevention efforts in Oklahoma during the annual Child Abuse Prevention Day event at the state Capitol.
The OSDH/FSPS, along with members from the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Action Committee, honors people and organizations that demonstrate significant and outstanding commitment and dedication to child abuse prevention activities.
The 2015 award winners are Mildred Ramsey for the Marion Jacewitz Award; Georgeann Duty for the Mary Ellen Wilson Award; Rep. Lee Denney (R-Cushing) for the Outstanding Elected Official Award; and Family Builders, formerly known as Parents Assistance Center, for the Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program.
“The Outstanding CAP award recipients are shining examples of people working in Oklahoma to prevent child abuse and neglect by strengthening families,” said Annette Jacobi, OSDH Director of the Family Support and Prevention Service. “These individuals have made a positive impact on the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children.
“They have been willing to sacrifice much to protect the lives of the most vulnerable,” Jacobi added.
Ramsey was one of the original registered nurses in the Children First Home Visiting Program at the Tulsa Health Department supporting first-time moms.
As the Children First Program Director, she demonstrated leadership by implementing best practices in research, training, quality improvement and telecommuting strategies.
Using data to show program effectiveness, Ramsey’s efforts have been recognized at the Nurse Family Partnership National Service Office for maintaining a program that supports its evidence-based intent.
“Her strong work ethic and passion for her work continually raises the bar to improve the quality of the program and services,” Jacobi said.
Duty has worked for years to provide families with the tools to have productive and caring environments for children. Collaborating with the Oklahoma City-County Health Department, she provides customized trainings to help caregivers better understand how a positive environment aids in a child’s development. The program trains school staff members parents, parents’ significant others and grandparents.
“A respectful, resourceful trainer and collaborator with a big heart for children, families are receptive to Duty and know they can count on her as well,” said Jacobi.
Representing Payne and Logan Counties, Denney also served as Mayor in Cushing. She has been a strong advocate seeking to pass House Bill 1684, titled “Erin’s Law” designed to protect Oklahoma public school children grades pre-K through 5th grade.
The bill provides a way for children to learn how to set personal boundaries and educates them on what to do if someone tries to break that rule. Intended to help prevent child sexual abuse and reduce the costs of trauma to children, the bill can help lower the costs of mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence.
“We want children to know what to do if there is a tornado, fire, even if there is a shooting at school,” Denny said. “This education piece is giving them another tool to keep them safe.”
Family Builders, formerly Parents Assistance Center, utilizes programs designed to prevent child abuse at its core, breaking the cycle of abuse, neglect and other family violence.
Under the leadership of Executive Director Laura Gamble, Family Builders serves over 5,000 people each year with its Parenting Program, Batterers Intervention Program, and Community Education and Outreach Program.
Programs are offered through schools, churches, and community organizations, where parents learn techniques for positive discipline, gentle touch and nutrition, how to show empathy, praise and maintain their emotions in non-aggressive manners.
After program completion, parents feel empowered to break the negative cycle of abuse many have experienced themselves.
Family Builder clients are primarily from Oklahoma, Logan, Canadian, and Cleveland counties.
As part of the ReMerge program, Family Builders works with the prison diversion program for single mothers and also offers classes at the Emerson Alternative School for parents.
For more information, call 405-271-7611 or visit the website.