The governor of Oklahoma has introduced an initiative to shift our state agencies away from previous frameworks and towards making Oklahoma hope-centered state. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is the first state agency to become a hope centered and trauma-informed organization, and as such, it is important for CSS employees to understand why being hope centered is beneficial and what it looks like for our practices to be hope centered.
Hope is one of the strongest predictors of well-being and an emerging robust body of evidence is demonstrating that hope is also an important component of organizational well-being. Based on this research and on the experiences many CSS workers have on a daily basis with our customers, it has become apparent that hope benefits everyone in the child support system, from caseworker to customer.
But how is hope defined in the context of a paradigm shift? The definition of hope that guides our shift towards hope centered practice is thus:
“Hope is the belief that my future can be better than today and I have the power to make it so.”
It centers self-determination and willpower, as well as a positive expectation for the future. It is grounded in the following three elements:
Goals are the cornerstone of our ability to hope. Goals can be short-term or long-term, but must be valued enough to motivate us to pursue the desired outcomes. The nature of the goals we set drives the desired pathways that we pursue to achieve our goals.
Pathways are the strategies available to help one reach a valued goal. Hopeful individuals are able to identify and pursue various pathways and resolved potential barriers.
Willpower (or agency) reflects the mental energy we have available to put toward our goal pursuits. The hopeful person is more likely to dedicate the energy needed to pursue their goals, while also having the ability to self-regulate their thoughts, behaviors, and emotions along the way.
Keeping these three key elements in mind, everyone must be mindful to not create obstacles which block pathways or discourage willpower for customers to realize hope centered goals.
What does this look like for CSS? Some examples are rightsizing orders or incarceration abatement, which align with True North priorities to result in reliable, regular monthly child support. We continue to look for opportunities to center hope in our practice, policies, and procedures.