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Funding cut for program helping parents in rural Oklahoma due to budget crunch

TAHLEQUAH, Okla. –  A program that helps rural parents across Oklahoma says it is worried about the future as lawmakers continue to battle it out over a budget.

On Monday, the Oklahoma State Department of Health announced that it had notified contracts for Federally Qualified Health Centers and Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention programs that state funding was coming to an end.

In all, officials say 25 Federally Qualified Health Center contracts and nine Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention contractors will be affected by the move.

Help In Crisis is just one of those programs that learned it would be losing about $200,000.

“When I got the call—first I was shocked and then I thought to myself, ’Oh, how am I going to tell my employees? How am I going to tell them that this program is gone?’” Laura Kuester, Help In Crisis Director, told KJRH.

The program allows four case workers to visit about 138 families in Cherokee, Adair, Sequoyah and Wagoner counties. Workers say they teach parents how to raise children, give them parenting advice and ensure the children are developing properly before heading to school.

Now, organizers say they are trying to figure out how to tell the parents that the program is ending.

”That’s been our main focus, just one-by-one to come up with the right words to tell them that we’re sorry and to try to help to have a packet together, so it’s some form of something they can go to,” said Sarah Frankie, HUG Program Supervisor.