Norman, Oklahoma, located approximately 20 miles south of Oklahoma City, is home to just under 125,000 and to the state’s largest university. While the city is full of the usual campus jubilation and activity, it also includes both rural and urban areas and a diversity of income levels. COVID-19 has led to an increase in the number of families with lost income who now qualify for existing social support services, but many who qualify aren’t aware of the resources available to them. This includes many children and families who could be better supported through connections to programs like WIC and SNAP, and to resources related to transportation, toxicity, and food insecurity.
In response to this growing need, Norman Mayor Breea Clark proposed a series of Community Access Pop-up Spots (CAPS) to help residents connect to available services and information. With support through the Healthy Babies Initiative, funded by Healthy Babies Bright Futures and the Mayors Innovation Project, the city purchased two iPads and internet hotspots to allow CAPS staff to sign up event attendees for qualifying services on the spot.
“Norman residents helped us realize that children in our communities would be off to a healthier start with better connections to existing programs that meet healthy food and transportation needs,” said Norman Mayor Breea Clark. “Our Community Access Pop-up Spots proved to be a fun and effective way to connect these dots.”
At a CAP held in Spring 2021, the city distributed information about available services ranging from fresh food to rental assistance, hosted kid friendly activities, and engaged a number of partners to participate in the events. Partners included Norman Public Schools, the Pioneer Library System, and the Cleveland County Health Department, which was able to provide on-site vaccinations to attendees ages 12 and up.
“More than ever, we know our community needs resources and service agencies that are just as flexible, moveable, translatable, and resilient as our community members have been in these unprecedented times,” said Sara King, spokesperson for the Cleveland County Health Department. “Having the City of Norman and the Cleveland County Health Department take cohesive steps in creating a more accessible resource hub will hopefully serve as a foundation for how to continue growing a network that truly works to the benefit of our community residents.”
Going forward, the city plans to hold ongoing CAP events in coordination with other community events, continue coordinating with local partners, and increase awareness and use of existing social services.
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