OKLAHOMA CITY (May 11, 2021) – The Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) recently honored seven outstanding Oklahoma individuals and organizations for demonstrating outstanding commitment, dedication, and leadership in child abuse prevention.
OSDH hosted a series of virtual, and small, in-person presentation ceremonies to recognize their efforts this year in lieu of the annual event typically held at the Oklahoma State Capitol, due to COVID-19.
“Congratulations to this year’s child abuse prevention award winners for their significant and outstanding work in preventing child maltreatment,” State Commissioner of Health Dr. Lance Frye said. “Their efforts are helping improve the quality of life for Oklahoma’s children most at risk for neglect and abuse and strengthening the health and well-being of Oklahoma’s communities.”
According to Beth Martin, director of family support and prevention services, child neglect and abuse is an important public health issue, and it takes strategic planning and policy changes to reverse the trend of increased rates of child abuse.
“OSDH is proud to recognize those champions willing to consistently go the extra mile, protecting one of Oklahoma’s most vulnerable populations,” Martin said.
Oklahoma Child Abuse Prevention Award winners for 2021 include:
Mark Lawson – Outstanding Elected Official Award
Emma Shandor – Outstanding Home Visitor Award
Parent Promise – Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program (tie)
Children First – Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program (tie)
Carolynn MacAllister – Mary Ellen Wilson Award
Sally Eichling – Julie L. Bonner Nurse Award
Barbara Bonner, PhD – Marion Jacewitz Award
Outstanding Legislator Award – Oklahoma Rep. Mark Lawson is recognized for his distinguished service focused on the prevention of child maltreatment and support of vulnerable families. Rep. Lawson has a keen interest in Oklahoma’s children and families. He is part of the Early Childhood Legislative Caucus to advocate in a bi-partisan way for children. Throughout his time in the legislature, he has authored, co-authored and promoted dozens of pieces of legislation focused on improving the well-being of children, particularly those in foster care or in danger of becoming part of the foster care system.
Outstanding Home Visitor Award – Emma Shandor is a supervisor and parent educator at Great Plains Youth & Family Services, Inc. in Hobart, Oklahoma. Ms. Shandor is responsible for directing, coordinating, supporting, and evaluating the performance of parent educators in accordance with Parents As Teachers policies and procedures. She is also responsible for responding to community referrals, screening and assessing potential program participants, public outreach, recruitment, providing in-home parent education, assessing family strengths and making referrals for appropriate services. Emma is passionate about child abuse prevention and the people she serves. She is bi-lingual and completes home visits with Parent Educators who have families that are limited English and are in need of an interpreter.
Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program – The Parent Promise program has been serving Oklahoma families for more than 30 years. The mission of Parent Promise is to prevent the neglect and abuse of Oklahoma’s children through parent education and support. They currently offer services through four major programs that are free and voluntary: Parents As Teachers, Exchange Parent Aide, Healthy Families America, and Right Track. They are also the Oklahoma Chapter for Prevent Child Abuse America. Parent Promise works with a multitude of key partners while eagerly extending and expanding quality services to the families in the community.
Outstanding Child Abuse Prevention Program – The Children First program (Oklahoma’s Nurse-Family Partnership) has been active in Oklahoma for nearly 25 years. Thousands of first-time mothers have found support from a registered nurse visiting them regularly between pregnancy and the child’s second birthday. The program has had success in areas such as breastfeeding initiation, getting up-to-date immunizations, and increased use of age-appropriate car seats.
Mary Ellen Wilson Award – Carolynn MacAllister initiated the statewide trauma movement, and led the first Oklahoma community (Stillwater) to identify challenges of unmitigated childhood trauma, recruiting and working a multi-disciplinary team of professionals and community leaders. Resilient Payne County (RPC) has set strategic goals and objectives, created working committees, and formed a non-profit collaborative to address these community and countywide challenges. She also was instrumental in the establishment of the Child Advocacy Center of Payne County, which later became the Saville Center. The Center brings together all of the professionals and agencies needed to offer services for abused children. Dr. MacAllister continues to drive much of the child advocacy work in her community from her leadership in RPC to advocating for better policies to protect child health and well-being at both the local and state level. Her passion for positive change for families and kids is contagious and makes her a mighty force for a better state for families to live and work.
Julie L. Bonner Award – Sally Eichling of the OKC-County Health Department works with Children First, a nurse-family partnership program. Ms. Eichling has been an advocate for families, a dependable team member, and an excellent provider of the Nurse-Family Partnership model. She has been a champion of the program by connecting with community resources, providing information on the benefits of the program, and always holding their desires as a priority. Ms. Eichling has been an invaluable asset to the Children First program.
Marion Jacewitz Award – Barbara Bonner, Ph.D., served on the faculty at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect in the Department of Pediatrics within the University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine since 1987. She recently retired as the CMRI/Jean Gumerson Endowed Chair and is now a Professor Emeritus. Dr. Bonner has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children exposed to child maltreatment and the prevention of further child abuse and neglect.