OKLAHOMA CITY — The Oklahoma Department of Health will be severing ties with dozens of social service agencies that offer child-abuse prevention counseling and health services as part of a larger move to trim $3 million from its budget.
The department announced Monday that funding would be cut for nine child-abuse prevention programs and 25 health centers as of Nov. 15.
The cuts come as the state faces a $215 million budget gap. The Oklahoma Supreme Court ruled against a $1.50-per-pack cigarette tax that was expected to help fund the agency.
Oklahoma County will lose about one-third of its budget for the home visiting program, which serves about 75 families, will be lost, said Sherry Fair, executive director of Parent Promise.
According to data from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, Oklahoma ranks first in the country for children with adverse experiences that include physical abuse, sexual abuse, neglect and food insecurity.
“No parent sets out to be a bad parent,” said Joe Dorman, that CEO of Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. “Many simply do not know how to be a good parent. That (kind of program) is what helps turn generational issues around and improve the lives of kids.
Health Department spokesman Tony Sellars said it’s time for the agency to take action after seeing the outlook of the budget.
“It’s certainly an action that we don’t take lightly, and one that we certainly regret having to do,” Sellars said.
Sellars said there are more budget-cutting measures being considered.