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Laura Dester Children's Center reopens as treatment center

Laura Dester Children's Center reopens as treatment center (KTUL)

Tulsa's Laura Dester Children's Center is experiencing a rebirth.

Once a shelter for kids entering the foster care system, it closed nearly six months ago after reported problems of abuse and neglect, but the doors are opening again, this time, with a different vision for helping children in need.

"We now have an opportunity to continue to meet its original purpose to provide a safe haven for our state's most vulnerable," said DHS Director Ed Lake.

This facility will now become a Residential Treatment Center for foster children who need specialized attention with mental health. It's a big deal, because the center wasn't able to do that when their doors were open before.

"It was a challenge for us to meet those children's needs,"said Lake. "Half the children who ended up here toward the end were children with these diagnosis and challenges."

Lake says, it was one of the many problems with the facility, eventually leading to its closure and moving several foster children out of state for help. The center's dark past got the attention of Oklahoma's incoming first lady, Sarah Stitt, who's hopeful about the new changes.

"We will begin to see a difference in the lives of these generational issues that we have and these generational problems that we have in the future of our young Oklahomans," said Stitt.

The new treatment center will not house children long term but work as a short term program, so they can help as many children as possible. There are still a few renovations that need to be done, but they hope to start taking in children within the first week of the new year.

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