Skip to main content

Chris Jarko 

Chris Jarko

Child Development Specialist,
Child Guidance Program

14 years of service


Got any favorite quotes?

Every child deserves a champion –an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists that they become the best that they can possibly be. -Rita F. Pierson

Who inspires you?

All of the people that I have worked with over the past years and the ones that I continue to work with today. These are the people who truly want to make a difference in a person’s life. I have learned a great deal from everyone that I have had the opportunity to work with, including the families that I serve. These are the people making a difference in a life for a child to become a success!

What advice or encouragement would you give to someone interested in a public health career?

I have enjoyed my 14 years of working for the Health Department, not only have I gained professionally, but also personally. I have developed friendship all over the State of Oklahoma. This job has also allowed me the flexibility to be a successful at my number one job, being a full-time working mother. Over the years, I have had the flexibility to be at my son’s important milestones; this has allowed me to be a successful full-time working mother.


How did you start working in public health?

After moving back to Oklahoma from Arizona in 2005, I was offered a position in SoonerStart, from there I transitioned to the Child Guidance program. This was a full circle for me, I completed my internship with SoonerStart during Graduate School in 1998.

Can you share a few highlights of your experience in public health in Oklahoma?

Helping families; whether it be connecting them to community resources, referring them for a specific service area, or providing them direct service myself. It’s all about helping families be the best they can be. Another great aspect of my job is all the community relationships I am able to make throughout the county. To me it’s all about relationships; relationships with the families that come into clinic, the relationships with community partners, but most of all, strengthening the relationship between the parent and the child.

In your role, how do you educate people about public health?

In my role as a Child Development Specialist, I have the opportunity to refer families to other programs within the Health Department, such as breast feeding support, SoonerStart services, family planning clinic, WIC, Immunization clinic, etc. I also have access to wonderful information to share with families in regards to the effects of smoking around children, car seat safety, or the importance of increasing physical exercise and healthy eating habits that a new parent can incorporate in their daily routines early into their child’s life that will last a lifetime.

What is the most difficult part of your job?

Knowing there are families out there that we are missing. I recently ran in a 5K, during the line-up for the start of the race, I looked around, and thought to myself, these individuals are taking a true step forward in making a difference in their physical health, how do we reach the people that are not at this starting line? This is how I feel about the families in my community, how can we get them in the door to make a difference towards a healthier, positive, family environment? It could be as simple as a speech referral, a screening for autism, or a referral to the local school district, or it could be something more important, such as a referral for a trauma assessment or direct counseling to help break a cycle to create a different life for their child. 

What is the most rewarding experience you have had in public health?

Seeing families and children succeed in life. I recently had twin boys come back to the clinic to visit me. These boys were children, in elementary school, when I saw them in clinic, they were coming back to me to ask me my advice on what classes they should take in High School. I have no doubt they will graduate from High School and continue their education success. To me, this is rewarding, seeing families and children succeed in life.


If you are unable to view the video above, please click here:

PHB seal
Back to Top