The Oklahoma State Department of Health, this November, will commemorate the 65th anniversary of Child Guidance, a statewide program that promotes and supports healthy family relationships and child development through prevention, education, screenings, treatment, and consultation services for families and caregivers of children from birth to age 13 in Oklahoma.
Oklahoma’s first Child Guidance clinics opened in Muskogee and Pittsburg Counties in 1956. Today, Child Guidance services are available through local county health departments located in regional hubs statewide, and through contracts with the Child Study Center in Oklahoma County and the Tulsa Health Department. Rogers County Health Department in Claremore serves as the hub for OSDH District 4, an eight-county region which also includes Craig, Delaware, Mayes, Nowata, Ottawa, Wagoner and Washington counties.
Child Guidance staff – including behavioral health clinicians, child development specialists, speech language pathologists and social workers – offer emotional support and practical solutions to handle family life through prevention, intervention and education. Two regional Child Guidance staff members currently serve District 4: Suzanne Griffin, lead clinician and speech language pathologist, and Therena Nielsen, child development specialist.
“Child Guidance services support our most vulnerable population to help them develop and fulfill their potential,” said Griffin. “We provide services in specialty areas including behavioral health, speech and language, and early childhood development and parent education. Our goal is to encourage healthy behaviors that strengthen family bonds, and to help families deal with life challenges that may seem daunting or impossible to overcome.”
Program services include parent-child relationships; challenging behaviors; positive discipline; child development; increasing communication skills; children and divorce; infant/toddler mental health; foster care and adoption; children with special needs; sleep and bedtime routines; grandparenting; teen parenting; and helping children cope with trauma, grief and loss.
Child Guidance services are provided on a sliding fee scale, based on income and number of people in the family. Services are covered under SoonerCare. Free phone consultation is available for childcare providers and parents via the Oklahoma Warmline at 1-888-574-5437. The Warmline is answered Monday-Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. You can also reach the Warmline at firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information about the Child Guidance program, visit oklahoma.gov/health/family-health/child-guidance-program, email ChildGuidance@health.ok.gov, or contact the Rogers County Health Department at 918-341-3166.