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For Release: March 27, 2008
Contact: Pamela Williams
Office of Communications

Oklahoma “Joining Forces” Conference To Promote Family/Professional Partnerships

More than 20 state agencies and organizations will be participating in a conference next month designed to provide families and state professionals with information on the importance of family/professional partnerships and to help increase family participation in development, implementation and evaluation of state programs.

The Oklahoma “Joining Forces: Supporting Family & Professional Partnerships” Conference will be held Saturday, April 26, 2008, at the Metro Technology Center Springlake Campus, 1900 Springlake Drive in Oklahoma City.  There is no charge to attend.

“The Oklahoma State Department of Health’s Maternal and Child Health Service (MCH) is pleased to support this effort. Our purpose is to increase the number of family advocates who are needed to participate on state-supported task forces and coalitions.  Securing consumer input regarding services provided by MCH is critical as we continually strive to advance delivery of services,” said Suzanna D. Dooley, M.S., A.R.N.P., Title V MCH Director, Maternal and Child Health Service, Oklahoma State Department of Health.

Bringing a wealth of experience in advocacy, program development, marketing, and strategic planning will be keynote speaker Eileen Forlenza, B.S., director, Colorado Medical Home Initiative, Children and Youth with Special Health Care Needs Unit, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment.  Ms. Forlenza’s topic will be “Family Leadership, Why Does It Matter?”

“This conference is the first step in developing partnerships between families and agencies, which can lead to a more balanced perspective of services for families in Oklahoma,” says Raymond Haddock, Chief Coordinating Officer, Vertically Integrated Services Divisions, Oklahoma Department of Human Services.

Unique to this conference will be a “working lunch” provided at no charge where families and state professionals will share information and network in a casual atmosphere.  Each agency will provide a list of opportunities for family leadership roles in their programs.  At the end of the day, families will know what opportunities are available to them to promote positive change within the systems that serve them

“This is an outstanding opportunity for families and professionals to increase partnership and leadership skills.  We are excited to participate in this event,” said Misty Kimbrough, Assistant State Superintendent, Special Education Services, Oklahoma Department of Education.

Among the participating state agencies are: Oklahoma Department of Human Services, Oklahoma State Department of Health, Oklahoma Health Care Authority, Oklahoma State Department of Education, OUHSC Center for Leadership and Learning, OUHSC SoonerSUCCESS, Down Syndrome Association of Central Oklahoma, Oklahoma Family Network, Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, Oklahoma Developmental Disabilities Council, Oklahoma Federation of Families, Oklahoma LEND, Oklahoma Parent Center, and TARC.

There is limited space available for family members and agency staff. Registration will be opened until the limit has been met, or April 24 at 4 pm, whichever comes first. For registration information contact Heather Pike at 1-800-627-6827, Ext. 41014 or e-mail joni-bruce@oklahomafamilynetwork.org


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