TULSA, Okla. — As child abuse cases increase in Oklahoma, the Child Abuse Network says a new center will help them address many challenges the organization is facing.
“We have seen the number of cases increase,” said Maura Guten, President and CEO of the Child Abuse Network. “We’ve seen the severity increase.”
Guten said the pandemic uncovered a troubling trend; an increase in child abuse cases.
“The risk factors for abuse were increased all over the place."
Guten says the Children’s Advocacy Center, built in 1992 to see 20 kids a week, just isn’t cutting it anymore. Weekly, they’re helping 45 to 60 children in our area.
“What we know is we haven’t quite seen the peak of the cases that we’ll see at the center after the pandemic,” Guten said.
Guten says the 2020 U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma has also had an impact on their stretched resources. She says each tribal case requires more professionals in their already too small space.
“The Supreme Court decision on McGirt was something that we were delighted about, but we weren’t quite equipped to deal with the onslaught of new cases, new professionals,” Guten said.
To speed up wait times for families, they’re in the process of turning an old empty building into their brand new center.
“When you wait, those are little guys and families that are sitting in crisis and limbo. The quicker we can get children and families in here the faster we can start the healing."
Guten says the new space will be much bigger and include more private offices, waiting areas, forensic interview rooms and therapy rooms.
“It’ll be much bigger space where multiple professionals can convene to work on these cases,” said Guten. “Our professionals will all have a place to land and a place to work.”
CAN hopes to start construction soon and plans to finish the project within a year.
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