Oklahoma Department Of Health Cuts Funding For Child Abuse Prevention Programs

Tuesday, October 17th 2017, 11:04 pm
By: Justin Shrair

The Oklahoma Department of Health will sever ties with dozens of social service agencies as part of a cost-cutting move.

Those affected include child abuse prevention agencies that offer counseling and heath services. 

The Department of Health announced Monday that it is cutting funding for nine child abuse prevention programs and funding for 25 health centers as of Nov. 15.

The Parent Child Center of Tulsa provides one of those programs.

"Frustrating doesn't even begin to describe that pit in your stomach feeling when you think about ... children and parents really struggling in these ways and potentially getting hurt," said Ashleigh Kraft, interim executive director at the Parent Child Center of Tulsa.

Kraft said it came as a surprise.

A  $444,000-a-year contract that funds six home-visiting positions as well as support and management services is being eliminated if nothing changes.

At any given time they can serve 110 families.

"We're working with them on important elements of safety and nurturing parenting so that they don't end up in the child welfare system, or in area hospitals," Kraft said.

For some families, their home visitors are the only person coming to see them every week helping them with problems, giving them preventive treatment, Kraft said.

Morton Health Services is the largest community healthcare system in northeastern Oklahoma.

Their uncompensated care pool is being cut. 

"We exhaust all funding sources to pay for that patient's care and so then by a formula that the state health department has created we submit for reimbursement a percentage of that uninsured care," said Susan Savage, CEO of Morton Comprehensive Health Services Inc.

Those who are not insured still pay a portion of their bill, but Savage said without the mix of funding over time that might change.

"Morton, like all other health care agencies whether they are hospitals or private providers, will have to make some tough decisions," Savage said.

The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled a cigarette tax that was expected to help fund the agency was unconstitutional.