OKLAHOMA CITY - It may just be an object but, when you're living in a city with 620 square miles, having a vehicle is almost a necessity, one many families in Oklahoma County don't have.
“We're built around the automobile. We came of age during the age of the car, so it's hard for us to provide transit like we would like to all of our citizens,” said Oklahoma City Mayor David Holt.
Specifically, families with children in foster care.
“Many of the families we serve are low income. They have difficulty getting into court hearings, and substance abuse treatment centers, and parenting classes and all of the myriad of things that we require them to do to prepare themselves and their homes to get their kids back,” said OKDHS Spokesperson Sheree Powell.
On Thursday morning, the Arnall Family Foundation announced a $1 million transportation innovation grant. The money will go to the best idea to improve the transportation challenges for parents trying to be reunified with their children.
“We need an organization that can handle the funds, but sometimes there are these entrepreneurs with extremely creative minds that might not be affiliated with a nonprofit or government and so we urge them to collaborate," said Sue Ann Arnall, founder of the Arnall Family Foundation.
The grant may be spent over four years and is geared for families in Oklahoma County, a simple idea they believe will have a massive impact on getting families back together.
“The more we can increase families access to transportation, the faster they can reunify with their families,” Powell said.
“When DHS takes them, it's our responsibility to take care of these kids so, if we're not helping them get back with their parents, we're causing them life-long trauma or allowing life-long trauma to occur,” Arnall said.
Finalists will be selected in December, and the winner will be announced next March.
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