Job Title: Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
This month, the NWI takes great pleasure in introducing you to Sheamekah Williams and her work. Since 2008, Sheamekah has served as the Director of Children, Youth, and Family Services at the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, and she has been the leading visionary behind Oklahoma Systems of Care (OKSOC). Her leadership has enabled OKSOC’s exponential growth with more than a 1000% increase in enrollment during her tenure. Sheamekah has overseen the expansion of OKSOC from a 17-county program serving children ages 5–18 to a sustained, statewide program serving ages 0–25 across all of Oklahoma’s 77 counties. She has also been the driving force behind strengthening the system of care by expanding the service array—most notably, by establishing mobile crisis response as a sustained statewide service—and building partnerships with the education, child welfare and juvenile justice systems.
Sheamekah was first introduced to Wraparound through her work as a therapeutic foster parent. “When I first became her foster mother, my daughter was 11 years old and had been in 36 placements. She had a long list of providers and still the school was calling every day. I went to Wraparound training and that was like a light bulb going off for me. I fell in love with Wraparound.” After that training, Sheamekah began to facilitate her own child and family team, and she credits Wraparound with providing the support she needed to keep her daughter in her home. Her daughter is now 27, with two children of her own, and doing well! Later on, Sheamekah became a Wraparound care coordinator, and then the Children’s Director for a local site.
Sheamekah is committed to infusing the principles of Wraparound throughout systems of care and to continue building a continuum of care that includes a wider spectrum of activities and recovery supports and services. She is particularly adamant about the need to use creative strategies for bringing more services to rural communities and sees using virtual and telehealth approaches as a key to that work.