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Contact: Sarah Steffes For
Telephone: 405-530-2081
Cell: 405-215-1400
Email: sarah.steffes@circleofcare.org

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For Immediate Release

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(Tahlequah, OK) – In response to the growing needs of children and families in crisis across Oklahoma, and in the fulfillment of the mission of providing Christian help, healing and hope, the Board of Directors of The United Methodist Circle of Care made the decision on February 26th to expand and accelerate its impact across Oklahoma. The Board voted with unanimous approval to pursue the sale of the United Methodist Children’s Home property in Tahlequah, OK.

Keith Howard, Circle of Care’s President and CEO, put the decision into perspective.

“I appreciate the forward thinking approach our board has taken with this decision.” said Howard. “For the past decade, change has been re-shaping the child welfare landscape. I’m excited to be a part of an organization that not only is nimble and willing to make changes, but is also focused on leading the way across Oklahoma in providing help, healing, and hope to children and families in crisis.”

A decision made based on multiple conversations, prayer and research.

The February 26th decision was made after spending time over the past year researching, analyzing and discussing with the Board of Directors the shift in how children are served not only across Oklahoma, but also across the United States. The leadership sought out wisdom from similar non-profits serving children that had chosen to sell property in order to meet the changing demands and accelerate their ability to serve more children.

During recent months, Circle of Care leadership has been thoughtfully considering how they can “do more for more” across Oklahoma and it became apparent that in order to meet the changing demands in services, it would take a shift to the current approach and one the organization has been building on for the past several years with the growth of Circle of Care’s foster care program.

The Board’s decision is the result of careful evaluation of many options, and their decision will set a course for an exciting future while increasing Circle of Care’s ability to achieve its mission – to provide Christian help, healing, and hope to children and families in crisis to ensure a safe, healthy, and spiritual future.

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Providing resources to “do more for more”.

The decision will provide greater resources to expand services and allow Circle of Care to be on the forefront of innovation when it comes to meeting the needs of children and families across the state.

In accordance with their current strategic plan, the sale of the property should allow Circle of Care to expand the Preparation for Adult Living program into two additional cities, strengthen their foster care program, expand the newly launched Counseling Services, and begin to focus on evidence-based, research backed prevention programs that meet the Families First Prevention Services Act that was passed in 2017.

“This decision does not mean we are giving something up. Rather, it means we are taking a courageous step to ‘do more for more’ across Oklahoma. We know there is much to be done and most of that work is in the community versus a campus environment. We are committed to leading the way”, said Howard whose organization is among the top 3 private foster care providers in the state.

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The legacy continues on.

The Circle of Care Board is committed to honoring the organization’s legacy while passionately moving forward into a second century of help, healing, and hope. Over the past 5 years, Circle of Care has opened offices and/or created a presence in 6 additional locations across Oklahoma. Once an organization with services centered primarily in northeast Oklahoma, Circle of Care now reaches individuals in need through offices or properties in Alva, Ardmore, Enid, Oklahoma City, Stillwater, Tahlequah, Tulsa, and Woodward. In addition, new locations are set to open in Shawnee and Elk City in 2019 – 2020.

“Our future is filled with potential. And as we move into the future with our staff, donors, church partners, alumni, neighbors and others in the community, there are, no doubt, questions that will need to be answered,” said Howard. “The Board’s vote is just the first step on our future-focused journey, and we will continue working collaboratively with all of those who have embraced our mission and have partnered with us in accomplishing it since 1917.”

Circle of Care has not identified a specific buyer at this point. The board vote will allow them the opportunity to begin to approach leaders within the Tahlequah community to determine who may be a potential purchaser of the property. They will continue to operate all services, both foster care and Preparation for Adult Living, on campus until a buyer is identified. After which they will maintain their programs and presence in the Tahlequah community, but through a different model.

“Circle of Care believes this property is a beautiful and historic part of the Tahlequah community and look for a partner who would want to preserve the beauty and honor the legacy of all the incredible work that has been done since 1942 on our property,” stated Board Chair, Jono Helmerich.

Howard stated, “The good news is, any land or campus we own does not determine how many lives Circle of Care impacts. That happens through relationships and accessibility to services. Any change made in our service model, such as the sale of the Children’s Home, is a reflection of the changing needs of those we serve. Our supporters’ continued support, investment and partnership is crucial and will continue to make an impact in the lives of individuals we serve throughout our programs.”

“I am excited about the future of Circle of Care. While I acknowledge there may be some in the community who do not fully understand this decision, I can assure you, it has not been made without a lot of thought, prayer, research and conversations. All of this led our leadership and Board to the decision that, in order to continue to help more Oklahomans, we needed to take this bold step into our future and multiply the resource we have been given to continue expanding our impact across Oklahoma,” said Howard.

No specific timeline for the sale is in place. Circle of Care encourages anyone with ideas or questions to call 405-530-2078 and speak with Sarah Steffes or Keith Howard. As additional information becomes available it will be shared on the agency website at, circleofcare.org.

 

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