OKDHS breathing new life into former children’s shelter

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OKLAHOMA CITY - The Pauline Mayer Children's Shelter closed in November of 2015, but it soon may have new life.

The facility is currently under construction to become 'The Family TREE,' a facility that will help families that are in foster care.

"The Children of Family Council, in collaboration with DHS, identified the need for families whose children are entering foster care to immediately experience evaluation in a way that allows those families to get into the right kinds of services that will help them,” Deb Shropshire, OKDHS deputy director child welfare community partnerships, said.

Through public and private money, this $2.7 million facility will be a one-stop shop for medical care, and mental health and behavior services for foster children, foster families and biological parents.

"The mission is to support and strengthen the families and the children that are involved in Child Welfare Services,” Georgeann Duty, Director of The Family TREE, said.

Another simple necessity, providing four "family rooms" for visitations.

"The more frequently they can visit, the better quality of those visits, the more likely those children are to return home and quickly, and the more likely the parents are to learn the kind of skills the parents need to be able to take care of their children safely,” Shropshire said.

The Family TREE can serve 80 families a year,  teaching parenting basics, and connecting them to resources to make family bonds stronger.

"There's really an opportunity to strengthen those skills, which in turn strengthens the parent/child relationship, which then in turn really supports positive outcomes,” Duty said.

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