Ask OKDHS - Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives
Q. What does the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives do?
A. We help Oklahoma’s poor and disadvantaged citizens by building partnerships between government offices and faith and community groups to address social service needs. Our priority areas are Facilitation, Prison Reentry, Foster Care, Health and Wellness and Emergency Preparedness. We also provide training to inform and inspire groups to go “deeper” in their service.
Q. What state funding might be available for my community-based organization to meet a social service need?
A. State Agencies sometimes bid out social services to community providers. A faith-based organization can submit a competitive bid to become a provider by registering as a vendor with the Department of Central Services. Details can be found at the Central Purchasing tab at www.ok.gov/DCS (Link opens in new window).
Q. Can faith-based organizations contract with the state for social service programs?
A. Faith-based organizations compete for contracts with state agencies on the same basis as any other provider. They are not required to alter their forms of internal governance, their religious character or remove religious art, icons, scripture or other symbols. They may not, however, discriminate against clients on the basis of their religion, religious beliefs or clients' refusal to participate in religious practices.
Q. What can my organization do to help children in foster care?
A. Our office has put together the “Top 10 Things You Can Do for a Foster Child.” This list is also available in printed publications and on our website http://www.faithlinksok.org/ (Link opens in new window).
10. Pray for the children in foster care and their families.
9. Make welcome baskets for children moving to a foster home.
8. Donate luggage for foster children in transition.
7. Have a baby shower to collect baby essentials.
6. Collect birthday gifts for foster children in your community.
5. Provide school supplies and backpacks.
4. Volunteer with a foster care ministry.
3. Offer financial training for teenage foster children.
2. Mentor a foster child.
1. Become a foster parent.
Q. What can my organization do to help Foster Families?
A. Our office has put together a “Top 10” list for helping foster families. This list is also available in printed publications and on our website http://www.faithlinksok.org/ (Link opens in new window).
10. Pray for foster families in your community.
9. Thank them and send notes of encouragement.
8. Offer child care for an evening out.
7. Contact the local OKDHS foster care specialist about specific needs in your community.
6. Host a shower for the family welcoming a foster child.
5. Have a dedication service.
4. Provide resources for a family outing.
3. Be an OKDHS Foster Grandparent.
2. Create an annual appreciation event.
1. Start a foster family support network.
Q. What can my organization do to help Senior Adults?
A. Our office published the “Top 10 Things You Can Do” which is also available in printed publication and on our website http://www.faithlinksok.org/ (Link opens in new window).
10. Adopt a yard for a season.
9. Host an inter-generational event.
8. Prepare a food box.
7. Meet an everyday need – change a bulb, run an errand.
6. Volunteer at a Senior Center.
5. Provide transportation to the doctor, church or store.
4. Take a senior to lunch or out for coffee.
3. Give quality time considering their interests.
2. Deliver meals to seniors who are homebound.
1. Be a friend.
Q. What are the basic emergency preparedness steps my church should know?
A. Follow these easy steps to prepare your faith-based community or congregation for emergencies.
Step 1: Be Informed.
Identify your community’s at-risk individuals.
Locate neighborhood shelters.
Create a list of health care professionals in your congregation.
Determine the community’s resources.
Step 2: Be Involved.
Host a disaster response volunteer training.
Partner with nearby congregations.
Contact the Red Cross Emergency Service Department to develop a disaster partnership.
Step 3: Be Ready.
Have an emergency kit for your staff.
Distribute your congregation’s contact information to off-site locations.
Create a response and evacuation plan.