“Play It Safe”- Kids’ Space Muskogee Co. Child Advocacy Ctr.

Kari BlakleyHealth & Wellness

The program we received the funding for is called, “Play it Safe” children’s abuse prevention education. We are providing this program to students pre-k through 8th grade in Muskogee Public Schools, Hilldale Schools and Muskogee private schools such as St. Joseph Catholic School. The City of Muskogee Funding will cover the facilitation of each class as well as the renewal of the “Play it Safe” Curriculum.

There have been 52 disclosures referred to the child abuse hotline and 37 of those turned into investigations. In the application, I explained how we would use new research of a “resiliency test” to measure the impact/ improvement on the lives of children we reach in this program. We first collect the ACE score of each child- this is the number of Adverse Childhood Experiences (abuse, dysfunction, trauma) they’ve had. We have began to collect the scores of 5 of the 37 children whose disclosures turned into investigations.
Each of their scores already so high that if their abuse had continued to go unnoticed it’s likely they would have followed the same dysfunctional path as their family. The relationships we are building with teachers from all the schools have had a huge impact on the children we serve in a very positive way. Here is just one example of what I mean: Two weeks ago Kids’ Space received a call/request for a forensic interview and a possible sexual assault exam for a young female out of Benjamin Franklin. She had gone to her principal and school counselor to tell them her dad had been hurting her and she didn’t want to go home with him after school. We went to Ben Franklin last school year to teach prevention and they’re on our calendar for this spring. We’ve established an open line of communication so they can use us whenever they need our help. So back to the story of the student… There was an urgency to provide our services to this child otherwise she would go home to her perpetrator. She was brought to Kids’ Space and as soon as she arrived she was hungry so we fed her. Just as soon as she finished eating our doorbell rang and it was her principal and school counselor, they asked if they could stay to support her. Her face lit up when she saw them. Hours passed and it was 1:00 AM when the services were complete, the principal and counselor were still there too. This was new to us, we never had any teachers actually come to our center to support a child during services. We are SO glad they did! By establishing a presence through our program in the local school systems, we are enhancing partnerships with the teachers and showing the students their support system is growing.