For Release – April 09, 2019 – Jamie Dukes, Office of Communications – (405) 271-5601
The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recognized six outstanding leaders in child abuse prevention during a ceremony Tuesday at the Oklahoma Judicial Center. Individuals and organizations were honored for their efforts, which demonstrate significant and outstanding commitment and dedication to child abuse prevention.
Interim Commissioner of Health Tom Bates served as master of ceremonies for the event, and was joined by Steven Buck, secretary of human services and early childhood initiatives.
“Congratulations to this year’s child abuse prevention award winners for their significant and outstanding work in preventing child maltreatment,” said Buck. “Their efforts are helping improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children most at risk for neglect and abuse and strengthening the health and well-being of Oklahoma’s communities.”
Commissioner Bates said child neglect and abuse is an important public health issue, and it takes strategic planning and policy changes to reverse the trend of increased rates of child abuse.
“The OSDH is proud to recognize those who are champions for protecting some of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable population,” said Bates. “I commend our director of Family Support and Prevention Services, Beth Martin, and her team of dedicated public health professionals who work throughout the year with partners across the state to provide support and services to families.”
The award recipients are listed below:
State Representative Carol Bush - Outstanding Legislator Award
Jem Balderas - Outstanding Home Visitor Award
Oklahoma City Public Schools Parents as Teachers Program - Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program
Kyle Moore - Mary Ellen Wilson Award
Diane Sammons - Julie L. Bonner Nurse Award
Tiffany Holmes - Marion Jacewitz Award
Outstanding Legislator Award Representative Carol Bush is recognized for her efforts to raise awareness of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and trauma-informed care. She authored the original bill, Senate Bill 1517, to create a statewide Trauma-informed Care Task Force to suggest best practices for lawmakers and state agencies when considering policy changes. She is also authoring a trailer bill to increase the membership of the task force and improve the deliverables by setting funding for task force staffing.
Outstanding Home Visitor Award Jem Balderas is a parent educator for Bethany Public Schools’ Parents as Teachers program. She works to provide information, resources, and support to vulnerable, high-risk families. She also advocates and participates in child abuse prevention awareness activities in the community and serves on the advisory board.
Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program The Oklahoma City Public Schools Parents as Teachers Program has been in existence for more than 20 years, and during that time, the program has demonstrated a passion for serving families of young children in the Oklahoma City metro. The program currently includes 10 parent educators who serve Oklahoma County. OKCPS PAT partners with a number of community organizations to best serve families who learn about ways to prepare their child for school, and learn about caring for the whole family as a unit.
Mary Ellen Wilson Award Kyle Moore of the OKC-County Health Department works in the Health at School program where he has created and implemented parenting classes which focus on child development and appropriate discipline. He has worked to help parents recognize how their children’s experiences today will shape the health, educational outcomes, and success of their children later in life. He also spends his time outside of his regular job working with at-risk youth and preventing child abuse through volunteering to read with students at a local elementary school.
Julie L. Bonner Award Diane Sammons of the OKC-County Health Department works with Children First, a nurse family partnership program. She began her career as a home visiting nurse in 2001, and now serves in a supervisory position where she provides resources and guidance to a team of nurses. She serves on the agency’s quality improvement committee, and is actively involved with researching and implementing best practices.
Marion Jacewitz Award Tiffany Holmes works with the OSDH Community Based Child Abuse Prevention Grant traveling to rural communities across the state to establish a needs assessment to better serve residents. She has coordinated community events, assisted in collecting data, and provided information for the Child Abuse and Neglect State Plan. She also acts as the first point of contact for parents needing resources through the parentPRO hotline.
Left to right: Secretary Steve Buck, Rep. Carol Bush, Commissioner Tom Bates
Left to right: Secretary Steve Buck, Jem Balderas, Commissioner Tom Bates
Left to right: Secretary Buck, Rep. Ajay Pittman, Oklahoma City Public Schools Parents as Teachers representatives, and Commissioner Tom Bates
Left to right: Secretary Steve Buck, Mr. and Mrs. Robert Bonner (parents of Julie Bonner), Diane Sammons and Commissioner Tom Bates
Left to right: Rep. Jason Lowe and Tiffany Holmes