OHCA and OKDHS partner to help at-risk children receive health services


OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Health Care Authority and Oklahoma Human Services are working together to help children receive health services through a new program for at-risk children.

The Specialized Program for Children at Risk (SPARK) provides coordination of care for children in the care of child protective services to ensure they have access to service at a time when early intervention is crucial, according to an OHCA press release.

OHCA and OKDHS will use the SPARK program to identify medical and behavioral health needs earlier and refer children in the program to necessary interventions.

OKDHS will refer children who need mental health treatment to OHCA. An OHCA Care Coordinator will work with the child’s primary caregiver and their health care providers to obtain mental and physical health services covered by SoonerCare, according to the press release.

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

SPARK Care Coordinators find resources for children in the program, schedule appointments, coordinate between specialists and physicians, and monitor the child’s progress. The coordinator continues with a child’s case and finds resources in the child’s new location should the child’s placement change during the program.

Five care coordinators are on staff, each caring for approximately 150 children. OKDHS is currently responsible for 6,900 children in detention and provides post-adoption support to another 21,000.

“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 Protective Services at Oklahoma Human. Services. “We are grateful for this partnership with OHCA and the opportunities for early interventions that can positively change the trajectory of Oklahoma families who face challenging behavioral health needs. The support and coordination of services provided by Care Coordinators creates bridges and breaks down barriers to ensure families can access these desperately needed services.

Four families were connected with care coordinators through the program. OHCA and OKDHS are working to identify more children who could benefit from SPARK.


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