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OJA contracts with White Fields group home

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Staff members get training in 2006 at White Fields cottage, the year the campus near Piedmont opened as a home for boys in custody of the state Department of Human Services. [Oklahoman Archives Photo]

Staff members get training in 2006 at White Fields cottage, the year the campus near Piedmont opened as a home for boys in custody of the state Department of Human Services. [Oklahoman Archives Photo]

The Oklahoma Office of Juvenile Affairs will partner with a Piedmont facility to offer a “home-like setting” for male youth in the juvenile justice system, another effort by the state agency to shift from a focus on detention to treatment.

The OJA on Sunday announced a contract with White Fields group home to provide treatment, mentoring, education and counseling for up to 12 young males.

“As OJA experiences a significant change in the kids that are coming into our system, both in the level of trauma they have experienced and also the number that are being referred to us, we are looking for ways to provide more treatment and support,” said Steve Buck, OJA's executive director.

For the past 15 years, White Fields had a contract with the Department of Human Services to treat severely abused children in the state. But that contract was ended in March.

OJA plans to start placing youth at White Fields on October 15 and could expand its placements in the coming months.

The use of a treatment facility like White Fields is part of OJA's larger mission to provide more responsive care to juvenile offenders, Buck said.

OJA is also moving forward with a new facility for its Central Oklahoma Juvenile Center in Tecumseh that will focus more on rehabilitation and education.

One of the programs White Fields will offer is a volunteer-mentor for each youth, which will continue to be offered as they reintegrate into their communities.

White Fields board member Greg Dewey said mentorship is a core part of the program.

"It is amazing what another carrying adult can do for a kid," Dewey said.

Ben Felder

Ben Felder is an investigative reporter for The Oklahoman. A native of Kansas City, Ben has lived in Oklahoma City since 2010 and covered politics, education and local government for the... Read more ›

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