Renovated Tulsa DHS Shelter Has New Mission
TULSA, Oklahoma - The Laura Dester Children's Shelter has a new mission as a short-term treatment center. The remodeled facility will help troubled youth.
The shelter will help keep kids in the state instead of DHS having to send them to other states for the treatment they need. Ed Lake, the Director of the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, said it often costs the state more money to send a child away.
"This way we have a Medicaid rate and the state spends less on the children than we would otherwise in state dollars,” Lake said.
That problem is on its way to being fixed thanks to a partnership between DHS and Liberty of Oklahoma.
"About 80 percent we've admitted in the last 18 or 19 years were in child custody of child welfare sometimes during adolescences," said Liberty of Oklahoma Executive Director Hugh Sage.
The center will now provide earlier intervention for children, so they can grow up and live productive lives; a shift from the previous role of Laura Dester as more of an emergency shelter.
"Some of the children that can be served here, there was no other service available. They were cycling through various placements and not having their needs met and getting worse," said Lake.
There are 24 beds in the three cottages under renovation. All the space will serve children with intellectual disabilities, mental health issues, and behavioral issues. The first set will open by mid-March.
“It is a win for the children and agency and I'm not sorry to be out of the emergency shelter business by any stretch," said Lake.
The children at Laura Dester will be staying anywhere from a couple weeks to a couple months.