Community-Based Child Abuse Prevention Grant Coordinator Family Support & Prevention Service
32 years of service
Got any favorite quotes?
Who inspires you?
First, I’m inspired by my daughter, a mother of five who has a heart of gold, the strength of King Kong and endurance of a marathon racer. In relation to my career at OSDH, I’m inspired by Dr. Kaye Sears who valued me as a college student and led me to my first public health position. Lastly, I’m inspired by my fellow public health colleagues and our prevention partners who work collaboratively in an effort to build a brighter future for the children and families across our state.
If someone was interested in a public health career, what advice or encouragement would you give them?
I would encourage them to follow that desire, knowing public health has something for everyone. I have enjoyed my 32 years and have evolved professionally and personally, creating many friendships and working relationships along the way.
What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?
The most rewarding part of my public health journey has been the opportunity to be creative while on the front line of meaningful work with people who are mission-driven and care a whole lot about kids.
What is the most difficult part of your job?
The most difficult part of my job is knowing 15,951 children were abused or neglected in SFY 2018, according to DHS, and wishing I had more answers and/or knew more what we could do so every child would be safe, protected and thrive.
How did you start working in public health?
My introduction to public health came at the beginning of 1987. Fresh out of graduate school, my advisor, Kaye Sears from the University of Central Oklahoma, and Dale Wares (friend/child advocate) guided me to applying for my dream job as a child development specialist at the Pottawatomie County Health Department. I provided parent education services and developmental screenings for young children as well as outreach to the community, which consisted of presentations to diverse populations in a variety of settings such as libraries, colleges/universities and even to the local jail/prison. The goals of the program were to improve the quality of family relationships, increase parents’ ability to provide appropriate guidance and learning opportunities for their children, and improve the capacities of communities to provide support and resources for families in their journey to successfully raise their children. Dream job!
Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?
During my career in public health, I feel fortunate I found a position which allowed me the freedom to be creative and innovative with a purpose.
As a child development specialist, I started the Parent Express Newsletter in 1988, which was popular outreach and a way to promote programs and services; the newsletter continues to this day. With fellow staff, we began an Edmond Moms and Tots group of which parents relied upon and even created lifelong friendships. Some of the children and parents from that group have now graduated college and remain in touch through Facebook and other means.
Working in child abuse prevention, I have been privileged to be part of an excellent team of not only fellow staff, but also collaborative partners from various agencies and programs who are dedicated and passionate about children and families. Together, we created the Child Abuse Prevention (CAP) Action group, which focuses on child abuse prevention awareness and education throughout the state. We built a large “Child Abuse Prevention Day at the Capitol” during April (Child Abuse Prevention Month) which has grown over the years and boasted over 200 participants annually.
The most rewarding part of my work has been being part of a team of public health professionals, partner agencies and organizations that are at the forefront of building something from scratch and watching as outcomes are measured and in an effort to strengthen families and protect children. This has been evident in the recently completed, Oklahoma State Plan for the Prevention of Child Abuse and Neglect (2019-2023).
In your role, how do you educate people about public health?
In my role, educating others about public health occurs in a variety of ways ranging from the utilization of electronic communication with email to a large distribution group of partners and prevention leaders and through social media and the OSDH website. For awareness activities and events, we are grateful to have the assistance of the OSDH Office of Communications for the creation and distribution of media releases, creation of campaign designs and many other tasks. Another way we educate prevention leaders is through our Home Visitation Leadership Advisory Coalition, which convenes bi-monthly and hosts presentations relevant to home visitation staff and consumers.