Old DHS shelter opens as facility to help biological families with children in foster care

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OKLAHOMA CITY - A former DHS shelter for children who had nowhere else to go has been transformed into the Family TREE.

"The Family TREE is really here to serve those children and families and help them be successful today but also five years from now, 10 years from now because we really want to shift and support our community in that way,” Director of the Family TREE Georgeann Duty said.

Organizers say almost $3 million went into renovating the 25,000-square-foot building.

Since it is located next door to the Oklahoma County Juvenile Center, it's a one-stop-shop for families with children in foster care.

"Placing a bunch of services under one roof is critical as we try to move toward quicker reunification and quicker permanency for these kids and better outcomes for these families,” Chief Juvenile Court Judge Trevor Pemberton said.

The facility now has four visitation rooms, exam rooms, and offers even offers parenting classes. Organizers say they know it can be difficult for parents to make weekly visits with their children on top of court dates, parenting classes and other appointments required by a judge.

"These folks don't have transportation. They may have jobs that are 9 to 5, obviously, or they don't have the money to go all over town even if they were able to use public transportation,” Pemberton said.

One of the goals is to reunify biological families when it is safe.

On the building is the name of the woman who was the visionary behind it all; Judge Lisa Tipping Davis, who passed away five months before its opening.

"If she's able to look down right now, I have no doubt she's looking down with great pride and joy,”  Judge Pemberton said.

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