Executive Director, Maggi Hutchason has served as Executive Director since 2003 when Dearing House opened. "The best part of this job is that no two days of the week are ever the same. We have to be ready at a moment's notice when the call comes from Law Enforcement or DHS that a child and family are coming to us for help. I love the challenge of making sure everything is in place when families need us," Maggi explains.
The duties of the Executive Director range from public awareness presentations to grant writing to facilitating the Multidisciplinary Child Protection Team (MDT) of law enforcement, child welfare, medical and mental health professionals, prosecutors, and victim advocates. "The MDT is a key element of our successful work with families because all our referrals come from the investigative agencies. Maggi will admit that sometimes MDT meetings resemble "herding cats," but creating an environment that encourages collaboration and cooperation of all the agencies involved in solving crimes against children is essential...for the child and family, as well as the investigators and prosecutors.
As Executive Director, Maggi is accountable to the Board of Directors of DVPNCO and responsible for maintaining all grant requirements and accreditation standards. "There is a fair amount of paper work, but its important that we keep good records of our services and be transparent with our use of public funds and donations,"
Maggi holds a Masters of Education, and has completed all training requirements for Forensic Interviewing. Maggi frequently provides training across the country on issues related to the child advocacy center model of response to child trauma. This selfie was taken at the Champion of Children Conference in Nashville, TN in 2014, where Maggi presented "Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too at MDT," on how to encourage positive communication with partner agencies.
Meet Michael Vines, Child Advocate
Although he has lived in Texas for the past 27 years, Michael Vines has always called northern Oklahoma home. A graduate of Ponca City High School, Michael has come full circle in returning to Kay County to work with children and families at Dearing House and the Domestic Violence Program! An Army Veteran (82nd Airborne), Michael also has a bachelor's degree in Human Services Management, and finds that the skills of listening and flexibility gained from the Army are key to this job.
The job of our child advocate is to help the children who come to Dearing House feel welcome and safe. So, you will often find Mike on the floor putting together legos or puzzles with kids, but he is also qualified to talk with the parents and adults about the investigative process and the services available to families during times of crisis. Mike admits that he's like to have magic fairy dust to make all the reasons kids come to Dearing House go away, but realistically he's trained and prepared for hearing, helping and healing in ways unique to each family and situation.
Michael accepted the job of Child Advocate on July 15, 2015, and will admit to being in "information overload." The training required to handle family issues for BOTH domestic violence clients, AND the families at Dearing House is never-ending, but his dedication to being the best he can be is driven by a sincere desire to be a catalyst for change. So when asked what his biggest surprise was after a few weeks on the job, Mike explained that he had no idea how many people and agencies come together to work with these families to assure child well-being. "I've had experience in dealing with numerous government and city agencies in the past, but not in this arena," Mike explains. "It is very exciting to witness the committment and concern of so many people wanting the best for each child and their families."
Congratulations to our former Advocate, Jessica Freeman, on her graduation from OU and new position with Kay County Health Department!