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FOR RELEASE: November 7, 2006
CONTACT: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Professionals, Parents and Children Benefit From Child Guidance Services -- 50th Anniversary Observed

All families can benefit from the programs and services that the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) Child Guidance Services offer at local county health departments. Child Guidance services focus on prevention and early intervention, and are provided to children from birth through age 12 years, their families, and the community. Child Guidance clinics offer resources to help guide parents in nurturing their children, promoting healthy behaviors and strengthening family relationships.

The first Child Guidance Centers in Oklahoma officially opened in Muskogee and Pittsburg counties 50 years ago in October 1956. They were staffed primarily by psychological clinicians who provided diagnostic and mental health treatment services. The program expanded in the 1960s and 1970s to emphasize diagnosis and treatment of mental retardation, learning disabilities, speech and language disorders. In the 1970s more emphasis was placed on early childhood development and parent education and Child Guidance services were funded in all 77 counties with about 300 staff statewide. However, due to budget cuts in later years, today there are about 90 staff in 25 counties.

Many programs that have grown into large statewide systems and continue to provide important services to Oklahoma families were initially established under the direction of the Child Guidance program. Some of the more well-known programs include the Office of Child Abuse Prevention; SoonerStart, which provides early intervention services for infants and toddlers with disabilities; and the Newborn Hearing Screening program.

“We have continued to help others overcome obstacles by developing relationships with Head Start centers, public schools and child care centers to provide evaluation, intervention and educational services through community outreach services,” said OSDH Chief of Child Guidance Services Debra Andersen.

Today’s Child Guidance staff includes psychologists, child development specialists, speech language pathologists, social workers and audiologists. In fiscal year 2006, they provided:

  • 47,200 sessions to individual family members
  • 2,908 educational group sessions to 35,703 parents
  • 20,521 consultations and training to other professionals on services they provide to families
  • 7,773 community planning or outreach/promotion services

Topics and concerns that are commonly addressed by Child Guidance staff include but are not limited to the following:

  • Parent-Child Relationships
  • Guidance and Discipline
  • Children's Behavior
  • Communication Skills
  • Child Development
  • Speech, Language and Hearing
  • Children and Divorce
  • Infant/Toddler Mental Health
  • Foster Care and Adoption
  • Children with Special Needs
  • New Baby
  • Sleep and Bedtime Routines
  • Grandparenting
  • Teen Parenting
  • Social Skills: Making & Keeping Friends
  • Dealing with Anger and Aggression
  • Improving Self-Esteem
  • Helping Children Cope with Disaster

For more information or to invite Child Guidance Services staff to speak at a community event, contact your local county health department or visit this Web site: www.health.state.ok.us/program/cgp/index.html.


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