Sequoyah County TANF Unit
- The Oklahoma Department of Human Services Temporary Assistance for Needy Families unit of Sequoyah County recently received the Outstanding Community Partner/Agency Award from the Oklahoma Career and Technical Education Equity Council. Pictured are, from left, Becki Foster, Oklahoma CareerTech chief of staff; Patrick Klein, Oklahoma DHS chief officer and division director of adult and family services; Joanna Helems, Michelle Wade and Tiffaney Preston of the Sequoyah County TANF unit; and Bryce Fair, OSRHE associate vice chancellor for scholarships and grants.
The unit was one of four businesses and organizations honored along with 14 individuals at the 26th annual Making It Work Day at the Capitol on Feb. 13. Making It Work Day recognizes individuals who are committed to removing barriers to success for single-parent families by providing educational experiences for students beyond the classroom. The presentations were made at a ceremony at the Oklahoma History Center. The ceremony also recognized nontraditional students.
Unit workers Janoa Ellis and Tiffaney Preston and their supervisor Michelle Wade have taught Carl Albert State College Power I students the importance of punctuality and attendance, customer service skills, problem-solving, organization, work etiquette and how to follow policy, said Ashley Watts, Power I program specialist, who nominated the Sequoyah County TANF unit for the award.
“Not only has the TANF unit taught employability skills, they have also made a tremendous impact on students by teaching them important life skills to help overcome barriers,” Watts said. “They have taught problem-solving, social awareness and most importantly helped students rediscover their self-worth.”
OkCTEEC is affiliated with the administrative division of the Oklahoma Association of Career and Technology Education. The council advocates for students pursuing nontraditional careers and for resources for educating single parents.
“The mission of OkCTEEC is to increase the awareness of collegiate and technical education by focusing on high expectations and full participation for all students and employees in career and education in Oklahoma. The Making It Work Day Ceremony is held to recognize those individuals, programs and business partners that have worked so hard throughout the year as well as bring a direct awareness to state senators and legislators,” said KayTee Niquette, Work Prep and Temporary Assistance for Needy Families coordinator at the Oklahoma Department of Career and Technology Education.
She serves as an adviser for OkCTEEC, along with Lisa French of the Department of Human Services and Gina McPherson of the Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.
“Making it Work Day is our annual opportunity to spotlight the investment and hard work that is being done to empower our students who are single parents and most often first generation students who dream and want to pursue higher education,” said Lisa D. Brown, OkCTEEC president and director for career transitions at Oklahoma City Community College. “We encourage them to aspire to set goals as never before, take the steps to achieve those goals and then gain the confidence and success of completing those goals.
“Making it Work Day is their red carpet moment to celebrate these successes and to show and not just tell Oklahoma that this program and its funding is well spent and valuable to the lives of these individuals, not for that moment but for a lifetime. I often relate what we do to the story of the butterfly that finally leaves the cocoon being transformed as confident, beautiful, strong and free to soar.”
OkCTEEC’s purposes include promoting and supporting career and technology education, increasing its effectiveness, promoting research in the field and in educational equity, developing leadership and advocating for equity and diversity.