Oklahoma is looking for people from marginalized backgrounds who are interested in influencing the direction of the state’s child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
The Evolution Foundation and the Oklahoma Family Network, with a shared $70,000 grant from the Annie E. Casey Foundation, are putting together a panel that will meet virtually each week for two or three months to give the two organizations input into how to build support systems for Black, Latino and Indigenous families impacted by juvenile justice and child welfare systems.
There are far too many such families in Oklahoma — way out of proportion to their numbers in the overall population, said Jeff Tallent, executive director of the Evolution Foundation.
“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 a news release, “and, while these families are disproportionately involved with these systems, they have never really had a voice or been asked to participate in discussing strategies to address issues. This grant is about creating the basic structures to give these families their voice.”
The nonprofits are looking for people who identify as a Black, Hispanic, Asian or Native American family member who has had a family member recently served by human services, child welfare; the Office of Juvenile Affairs; and/or Oklahoma Systems of Care Wraparound Services and who has access to reliable Wi-Fi service and a device like a computer, laptop or mobile phone.
Plans include the creation of a peer-to-peer network, child advocacy training and a virtual child welfare summit for families of color.
“To find solutions, we must engage families that are most impacted, listen and work together to restructure and strengthen processes and systems,” said Joni Bruce, executive director of Oklahoma Family Network, in a statement.
Participants, who will be recruited throughout the year, will receive a $20 an hour stipend as consulting contractors. Anyone interested in the opportunity to serve on the panel who meets the qualifications can contact Tallent at [email protected].