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Partnership to introduce care coordination program to benefit children in foster care

Thursday, April 07, 2022

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: 
Melissa Richey, Chief of Communications
405-982-8707 |

Katelynn Burns, Director of Public Affairs
405-522-7266 |

Partnership to introduce care coordination program to benefit children in foster care

Oklahoma City, OK –  The Oklahoma Health Care Authority (OHCA) and Oklahoma Human Services (OKDHS) is partnering to help Oklahoma children receive health services through the new Specialty Program for At-Risk Kids (SPARK). The program offers care coordination for children in the custody of Child Welfare Services to ensure they have access to services at a time in their lives when early intervention is crucial.

Through the SPARK program, the two agencies will aim to identify behavioral health and medical needs earlier and refer participants to needed interventions which is expected to result in diversion from higher, more restrictive levels of care and promote placement stability for youth.

OKDHS will refer to OHCA those children who have been screened and identified as needing mental health treatments. A designated OHCA care coordinator will then work directly with the child’s primary caretaker and their health providers to recommend and coordinate mental and physical health services covered by SoonerCare.  

“Many times, the first experience families and caretakers of these children have with Oklahoma’s behavioral health treatment system is when the child is in crisis and has an immediate need for crisis stabilization or inpatient treatment,” said Traylor Rains, State Medicaid Director at OHCA. “By identifying behavioral health needs earlier in the child’s life through screening and individualized care management, we can ensure services are available in the least restrictive environment possible and prevent the additional trauma that comes along with removing a child from their home to receive inpatient services.”

SPARK care coordinators are licensed mental health professionals who find the best-suited resources to meet the child’s needs, schedule appointments, coordinate between specialists and physicians, and monitor the child’s progress. If a child’s placement were to change while in the program, the coordinator will continue with the child’s case while identifying resources in the child’s new location.

Five care coordinators will handle a caseload of approximately 150 children each. Currently, OKDHS is responsible for 6,900 children in custody and provides post-adoption support to another 21,000. The SPARK team will focus on supporting those for whom coordination is a pressing need, and as stability is achieved, will shift to assist additional families.  

“We know children and families can thrive when they have access to the right supports and tools at the right time in their lives,” said Dr. Deborah Shropshire, Director of Child Welfare Services at Oklahoma Human Services. “We are grateful for this partnership with OHCA and opportunities for earlier interventions that can positively change the trajectory for Oklahoma families who are facing challenging behavioral health needs. The support and service coordination provided by the care coordinators creates pathways and removes barriers to ensure families can access these desperately needed services.”

The program has connected four families with their care coordinators. Both agencies are working to identify more children who could benefit.



Last Modified on May 12, 2022
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