For Immediate Release
Carley M. Dummitt
Autism Foundation of Oklahoma Receives Funding to Identify and Improve Services for Families, Toddlers, and Preschoolers
(Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – (November 13, 2023) The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma (AFO) is participating in a statewide project designed to identify the needs of families with children born from 2019 through May 2023 to develop new or improve existing community resources and services. The project is known as Know and Grow Oklahoma: Building Resilient Children, Families & Communities.
“This is exciting because we know the pandemic presented challenges for all of us, no matter who we are or where we live. One such challenge for families with children born, adopted, or fostered during the pandemic is that these children did not experience the first few years of their lives like most children. Just as we work diligently to bring our world back to a new normal, here at AFO, we are focused on discovering what those new needs are for these families and their children,” says Emily Scott, Executive Director of AFO.
The short-term, $10,000 contract with the Potts Family Foundation (PFF) based in Oklahoma City allows AFO to bring together a coalition of known providers serving our community’s families and children. The groups will work with community members to initiate engagements, build relationships, and collect feedback. The coalition may host a booth at a community event, conduct one-on-one interviews with parents, grandparents, other caregivers, and community leaders, circulate surveys, or host focus groups. This project is supported by ARPA funds appropriated by the Oklahoma legislature and in collaboration with the Oklahoma State Department of Health.
Being pregnant and caring for an infant or toddler in an unfamiliar world presented unprecedented challenges for parents, caregivers, and families. It was also unfamiliar and challenging for those who typically provide parenting support. However, with all difficulties, there are also new experiences that bring positive changes and growth. “This is what we want to learn from our fellow community members who had these experiences. We want to know how the children and their families are doing and if there are unmet needs that groups like ours in the community can respond to in support of our children and their families,” commented Emily Scott.
“What is most exciting about this project with PFF is the inclusion of rural communities often overlooked when such projects are implemented. Many in our coalition have expressed appreciation to PFF for developing a statewide project to create a better quality of life for all Oklahoma children and families. We are 1 of 15 coalitions statewide serving about 34 counties, of which the majority are rural communities. This is very exciting,” said Emily Hayes, Early Childhood and Social Inclusion Program Director at AFO.
The Potts Family Foundation received funding from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) as part of its mission, focusing on early childhood initiatives. This project aims to improve the well-being of and build resilience in children born right before or during the pandemic. Joining AFO in this project is Parent Promise. The work will occur between now and the end of the year and includes Oklahoma County. To get involved and be part of this community-led project, contact Carley Dummitt at email@example.com. Join the conversation at www.knowandgrowok.org or on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn using @knowandgrowok.
The Autism Foundation of Oklahoma strives to improve the lives of Oklahomans with autism across the lifespan. To learn more, visit www.autismfoundationok.org.
Potts Family Foundation is a private foundation focusing on providing support for sustainable early childhood initiatives with an emphasis on root causes, empowering people and organizations, impacting future as well as present human needs, leveraging resources for the greatest impact, and securing sustainability and the potential replication of early childhood programs and services. The foundation was established in 1980 and is based in Oklahoma City.