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Children's Sanctuary at Palomar, Oklahoma City's Family Justice Center

Date Submitted: 09/08/2021

Contact Information:

Kim Garrett CEO


Palomar: Oklahoma City's Family Justice Center, Inc.  

1140 North Hudson Ave., Oklahoma City, OK 73103

Rating Category: Innovative Idea


Focus Area: Social Emotional Learning

Focus Population: Children, Caregivers, Guardians, Parents

Goals and Outcomes:

Palomar has a tremendous goal: to unify all possible services a victim and their children may need and make them easily accessible by housing them in one convenient location. In domestic violence, this coordinated response can make the difference between life and death for victims and their children. Our model is literally saving lives and interrupting the generational cycle of violence.

Due to COVID-19, the Children in Oklahoma City have experienced additional and significant trauma. Palomar’s Children’s Sanctuary staff are highly trained to assess the needs of children who have experienced trauma. The Children’s Sanctuary provides free drop-in care for children in violent homes and aims to interrupt this cycle and lead kids to healing. Palomar is requesting funding to support its Children’s Sanctuary by providing two additional staff members, therefore dramatically increasing the Children’s Sanctuary’s capacity and allowing staff members to have more time to thoroughly address each child’s social and emotional needs.

In an effort to mitigate trauma and help the children in our Community heal, Palomar has been in discussions with the University of Oklahoma Health Science Center to create the OUHSC Palomar Children’s Behavioral Health Program. This program would include developmental and mental health screening and assessment, evidence-based mental health treatment, case management, and advocacy through multidisciplinary team participation. This adds an innovative layer of protections for Oklahoma’s most vulnerable children. By adding a dedicated therapist and support staff for the Behavioral Health Program, Palomar will be able to provide comprehensive social and emotional mental health care to our children and lead them to a path of healing.

Palomar’s Children’s Sanctuary serves Palomar client’s children of all ages, learning level, cognitive functioning and their families. Violence and adversity have a profound impact on shaping Oklahoma City. There is a direct correlation between adverse childhood exposure and chronic disease, mental illness, substance abuse and violence (CDC). Unmitigated trauma and adversity have been directly correlated with many issues that negatively impact Oklahoma City. By providing comprehensive wraparound services to children, as well as adult clients, in the Children’s Sanctuary, Palomar aims to mitigate our children’s Adverse Childhood Experiences and lead them to healing.

Brief Summary:

COVID created isolation for families, instability, loss of jobs and resources, and lack of connection which combined created a toxic environment for domestic violence and child abuse to thrive. In OKC, police calls related to domestic violence, and the severity of injury, have increased.

Violence directly impacts our public safety, public health, education system, economy and overall quality of life. Palomar is designing and developing innovative solutions and opportunities for social impact that will be felt for generations to come. In OKC, we estimate there are over 36,000 children who are exposed to domestic violence and abuse. Providing a safe trauma-informed space for children and families is critical to ensure they get the help they need to heal and break the generational cycle of violence. The Children’s Sanctuary provides free trauma-informed childcare and is available for children of all ages while clients receive support services at Palomar. The Children’s Sanctuary staff builds rapport with children and their families, assesses and identifies needs, solves problems, safety plans, supports and empowers children. The Children’s Sanctuary reduces barriers that keep clients from getting timely services throughout the system by coordinating wraparound care for emotional, financial, administrative or cultural support. While in the Children’s Sanctuary, children can also receive services, including: Emotional Support; Crisis Intervention; On-Site Childcare; Service Coordination; Extensive follow-up and coordination with ongoing therapeutic programming; Referrals to Other Agencies; and, Emergency Assistance such as food, clothing, personal care or hygiene items. The Children’s Sanctuary allows Palomar to reduce barriers for clients while providing wraparound services for the entire family.

As Palomar’s client numbers continue to grow, Palomar anticipates that the number of children will also increase. In 2020, Palomar’s Children’s Sanctuary, despite the COVID-19 Pandemic, served 664 Children who visited the Sanctuary 909 times. In 2021, our numbers have only continued to grow exponentially, creating limitations with capacity and staffing. In June 2021, Palomar served 219 children, with 137 visits, an increase of 119% visits and 80% increase in kids from just the previous month! At-risk families in Oklahoma City need a safe trauma-informed service that can enhance children, and their parents, social and emotional well-being.

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