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Oklahoma child abuse advocates gather at capitol to push for funding

Child advocacy officials fight for funding
Posted at 4:30 PM, Apr 02, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-02 18:23:05-04

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. — On Tuesday child advocates from across the state went door to door at the capitol to share staggering statistics.

Some counties like Pittsburg face risk of closure. This comes after almost 20 years of state funding staying at about $300 a child, while surrounding states receive more than three times that amount.

"We are getting less funding from the federal government and our numbers are rising but the income we are seeing from the state has stayed the same," Pittsburg County Child Advocacy Center director Jessica Gilliam said.

If the McAlester location closes, children will have to go long distances to places like Tulsa or Oklahoma City to get care.

"These children will basically be interviewed in the back of police cars, taken to a hospital, have to sit in waiting rooms and possibly have to go to a police department. That's not what we want. It's already a scary situation," Gilliam said.

Advocates said if child abuse is stoped in its tracks it could affect everything from prison overcrowding to education.

"It's all so inter-connected. When teachers are here at the capitol talking about the need to increase funding or advocating for more teachers in the classroom... we're sending child abuse victims into those classrooms. They can't learn," Ray of Hope Advocacy Center director Rhonda Hudson said.

The consequences for victims are even more dire.

"Heart disease. Cancer. Chronic health problems. And they usually die about 20 years earlier than their peers," Hudson said.

Advocates tell 2 Works for You Oklahoma sees one of the highest rates of abuse in the country. Ultimately , they hope to increase preventative care. To do that, additional funding is needed.

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