Sooner SUCCESS recently received recognition for its comprehensive efforts to support children with special needs and their families. In a proclamation made by Governor Kevin Stitt, Nov. 30 was declared “Sooner SUCCESS Day” in the state of Oklahoma.
Sooner SUCCESS is a statewide program under the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine Department of Pediatrics’ Child Study Center. It was established in 2002, to help make services more widely known and accessible to families of children with special healthcare needs. The needs may be behavioral, developmental and/or medically related. Often, the needs are multiple or overlapping, making coordination of services potentially more complex.
“For 17 years, Sooner SUCCESS has helped families navigate their way through a maze of sometimes disparate agencies and organizations,” said Aietah Stephens, executive director of the program. “We implement community programming that meets the unique needs of families that have a child or loved one with special healthcare needs. We actively work on community coalitions to increase awareness of needs and strive to create more inclusive communities.”
According to a national survey conducted in 2009-2010, Oklahoma has a higher percentage of children with special healthcare needs – 17.6%, as compared to 15.1% nationally. Sooner SUCCESS provides one-on-one assistance to help families secure appropriate support resources for their children with special needs.
One area in which Sooner SUCCESS has seen excellent results is its commitment to connect caregivers to respite care services, identified as a top need of caregivers. A caregiver is an individual who may have full-time or nearly full-time responsibility caring for another person. Without some form of respite resource, caregivers compromise their own mental and physical well-being. In partnership with Oklahoma Aging Services Division, Sooner SUCCESS implements the Lifespan Respite Voucher Program.

“Respite is a vital resource caregivers can access for much-needed breaks,” Stephens explained. “We work in tandem with other statewide respite voucher programs to connect caregivers to appropriate resources.”
In addition, Sooner SUCCESS works with community partners, including churches and other faith-based organizations, to implement community respite programs.
The vision of Sooner SUCCESS is to create more cohesive coordination of supports and resources so that missed opportunities are minimized, or ideally, eliminated. Sooner SUCCESS recognizes the importance of the family as a whole, including the loved one with special healthcare needs, their caregivers, siblings and extended family members.
Stephens said, “We seek to make Sooner SUCCESS a resource to other agencies and organizations for service navigation. Families of children with special needs face diverse situations. In an area where resources are so desperately needed, it makes sense to use those resources as efficiently and effectively as possible, eliminating duplication of effort and ensuring that families are better supported.” Learn more about Sooner SUCCESS .
Founded in 1910, the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine trains the next generation of healthcare professionals. With campuses in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, the College of Medicine offers the state’s only Doctor of Medicine degree program and a nationally competitive Physician Assistant program. For more information, visit