Transportation grant to help families in foster care winner announced

OKLAHOMA CITY - There are around 1,000 parents in Oklahoma County who are working toward getting reunified with their children in foster care.

"Families that are working toward reunification with their children are often ordered by the courts to attend parenting classes, substance abuse treatment classes, mental health treatment. All of these services to help them,” OKDHS Communications Director Sheree Powell said.

But getting to those appointments can be almost impossible for those without a car.

It's what the Arnall Family Foundation announced a $1 million grant initiative in August to solve that issue.

"[We asked] 'What is keeping your families from achieving the services they need to reach,' and transportation continued to come up as a challenge and you can have amazing programs and services, but if families can't get there it doesn't matter,” Lindsay Laird with the Arnall Family Foundation said.

The group met and selected the Community Transportation Association of America in partnership with EMBARK and Oklahoma Transit Association for the four-year grant.

"This is an opportunity for us to be a community resource to connect people to something that's bigger than just point A to point B,” Michael Scroggins with EMBARK said.

A rough estimate shows around 450 rides per month are needed for these families.

So now the grant winners are researching the best technologies and partners for the pilot program.

"We're going to be setting up that system again that's going to search the best options for the time, location, the number of passengers that might be involved to find and identify the most appropriate mode,” Scroggins said.

Whether it's a rideshare system, traditional bus route or even street car, the ultimate goal is to hit the brakes on the number of children in foster care and into the arms of their families.

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