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Turner enjoys helping families cope and prosper

Posted Date: 12/27/2017
By: Tracy Turner

As a lifelong Arkansan from the small but strong community of Tollette, AR in Howard County, I learned the value of family from my parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, and community.  In order to prepare me to be “Reddie” for the future I attended and graduated from Henderson State University (The Reddies) where I gained knowledge and experience for the next course in life. My career has always focused on “Supporting Families” and I believe that everything that I learned up to this point in my life prepared me for this juncture.

The importance of having a nurturing, caring and supportive family along with other values that I learned early on led me to helping women and children move beyond the struggles of domestic violence. It was quite easy and natural that my career took me to supporting (both directly and indirectly) children and families within the Department of Human Services.

My work in DHS has spanned several programs through various roles, however, in my current role, I manage a federal grant, analyze and report federally on program data, and coordinate the statewide network of programs and providers in our State’s Part C early intervention program that serves families of infants and toddlers with developmental delays or disabilities. This work has focused deeply on developing policy, procedures and other infrastructures to ensure that Arkansas has high quality system in place to support families.

Recently, events in my own family afforded me the opportunity to experience the other side of family supports in a way that reached far Beyond Policy. By most standards, I’d be considered an expert in navigating a complex service system because I’ve worked inside that system for over two decades.

However, in the past few months, as I stepped out of the comfort of my office and sat beside my family member’s hospital bed, I find myself feeling entirely overwhelmed. Overwhelmed by the emotional impact of a child’s illness and family members beset with concerns and fears. Dazed with the steep learning curve of medical acronyms, medical terms and diagnoses and names for treatments and procedures all outside my field.  To say that this is “information overload” is such an understatement of considering the details to understand and process in order to make such important decisions.

The challenge of finding the supports (needed to succeed) after leaving the hospital, while realizing our family must develop an entire service network is daunting.  As someone who has worked inside the system for over 24 years. I weep for other overwhelmed, anxious, sleep-deprived families who are walking this road without the maps that I have.

I’ve often said that if I could do anything in my career to go beyond policy and really make a difference for families, it would be to make contributions to the system to make it easier for families to navigate. The experience of approaching the service system from the family’s perspective has only made me more determined to contribute what I can to influence a change. A change in the structure would led to a family-friendly system where programs come together to meet a family where they are and then wrap supports around them.

In keeping with the values taught so many years ago. The community that partnered with my family to model the importance of supporting families continues today.

Arkansas Department
of Human Services
(501) 682-1001

TTY: 1-800-285-1131 or dial 711 for Arkansas Relay Service

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