Oct 27, 2023
By Sarah Elisabeth Sawyer
After suffering in a domestic violence situation, one mother was brave enough to call the Child and Family Guidance Center of Texoma. Defeated, fearful, and starting from nothing, she reached out to the center for case management and therapy services.
Working together, her case manager was able to guide her through obtaining childcare assistance through Texas Workforce, receiving food stamps after being denied previously, obtaining financial aid assistance for college, utilizing the diaper bank and local food assistance programs, and completing a 16-week financial course with Texoma Council Of Governments.
Her most recent visit to the center showed her smiling—optimistic, empowered, and determined about the future.
When someone is brave enough to call the Child and Family Guidance Center, the staff member on the other end of the line is prepared to guide them through their first steps.
Brenda Hayward, executive director of the center, explains, “If someone says, ‘I don’t have insurance, I don’t have a job, I don’t have any money,’ our front team says, ‘It’s okay. We are going to take care of you.’ That’s what the Texoma Health Foundation and other funders enable us to do. We set the person at ease early in the process.”
Though Brenda isn’t directly involved with the clients, she hears the powerful work going on in the facility. Little voices of children drift into her office as they walk through the halls with their therapist. Trust builds.
“To see that happening and unfolding, is a joy for me,” Brenda says. “One of our therapists was outside the playroom with a little girl, and you could tell they were truly connected and the little girl felt safe. We have some wonderful, competent, caring providers to help people. They meet them where they are, and work with them compassionately to heal the issues they are bringing here.”
The Child & Family Guidance Center of Texoma began 57 years ago with one woman’s vision to support children in poverty. The organization started off in a free office space where it operated half a day per week.
It’s now grown to 11,896 in-person and telehealth sessions in 2022 alone. 85% was supported by grants, fundraising, and Medicaid.
“In reality, the folks who need our care can’t afford to pay for our care,” Brenda says. “We hire and employ high-level professionals. Our board and I have always stood on the belief that we need to be a competitive employer in this community to attract and retain high-quality mental healthcare providers.”
In 2013, the Texoma Health Foundation was part of supporting the Child & Family Guidance Center of Texoma to become a licensed training academy for therapists. The center brings in master level interns to help them finish their degree. Once licensed, they put in 3,000 in-the-field hours during the 2-year paid program.
After someone is brave enough to pick up the phone, interns see the client care process unfold. They begin to understand the work of all the staff members, and their own role once clients come under their care as a licensed therapist.
“A lot of powerful work is being done each day here, very quietly,” Brenda says. “They just go about their work helping people have a better future. We take the wins because not all are wins. But when it does happen and things get better for people, it’s a good feeling.”
Note: All photos have client consent.