Panel to Help Increase Minority Voices in Justice and Child Welfare Systems | News

OKLAHOMA CITY – Minorities in Oklahoma will have the opportunity to help guide efforts to increase the voice and influence of minority families in the juvenile justice and child welfare systems.

Thanks to a recent shared grant of $70,000, up to seven members of the Minority Family Advisory Committee from across the state will meet virtually for a few hours each week for two to three months with the executive directors of the two nonprofits. lucrative and their representatives.

According to a press release, The Evolution Foundation and Oklahoma Family Network will use grant funding to create support systems for Black, Latino and Indigenous families adversely affected by juvenile justice and child welfare issues.

Jeff Tallent, executive director of The EF, said in the statement that there are “far too many” families in Oklahoma with children engaged in the juvenile justice system and/or Oklahoma Human Services Child Welfare. .

“We see generational cycles of negative outcomes, particularly in marginalized communities, with little opportunity for families to find the right services to reverse these negative trends,” Tallent said in the release, “and, although these families are disproportionately involved in these systems, they have never really had a voice or been invited to participate in discussions about strategies to solve problems.This grant aims to create the basic structures to give these families their voice.

The award – one of 10 awarded nationally – will fund work to build community partnerships and resource connections in underserved communities and create strategies to reduce and prevent negative consequences, according to the release. .

The ideal candidate for the panel is someone who identifies as a Black, Hispanic, Asian, or Native American family member who has had a family member who was recently served by social services, child protection; Bureau of Juvenile Affairs; and/or Oklahoma Systems of Care Wraparound Services and who has access to Wi-Fi and a connectable device such as a laptop or iPhone.

Selected family members will become contract consultants to the foundation and will be paid $20 per hour.

Joni Bruce, executive director of the OFN, said in the statement that the overrepresentation of people of color in the juvenile justice and child protection systems is “something we can and must address.”

“To find solutions, we must engage the families most affected, listen and work together to restructure and strengthen processes and systems,” Bruce said in the statement.

The development of a parent advisory council in partnership with the Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs; a one-day virtual summit on child welfare for minority families; training in the defense of children’s rights; and the creation of a minority family peer-to-peer network are all planned, according to the release.

Anyone interested in the opportunity to serve on the panel who meets the qualifications can contact Tallent at jeff [email protected] Recruitment will last year-round, Tallent said, and additional panels specific to different regions of Oklahoma will be formed later.

Elna M. Lemons