Local

Child Abuse Network to open larger facility due to influx of cases

TULSA, Okla. — Child Abuse Network (CAN), located off East 28th Street and South Sheridan Road, handles complete case management in one location.

CAN’s capacity woes have intensified since the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2020 ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma.

“We’re seeing a lot more traffic at the center by way of professionals and teams and also the number of cases,” said Maura Guten, president and CEO of Child Abuse Network.

CAN is increasing their facility’s space to accommodate the increased need more efficiently.

“We’re working with tons of federal agencies, tons of tribal agencies, law enforcement, prosecution and other entities within the tribes,” Guten said.

As a result of the McGirt ruling, CAN’s facilities serve as the primary hub for multijurisdictional cases involving local tribes.

“Certainly, there’s more people that are required now to serve a case that’s impacted by McGirt,” she said.

Construction crews are rehabbing the former OU Physicians building that is nearby the current CAN building.

The new 35,000-square-foot facility, scheduled to be completed by August 2023, will add more space to serve abused and neglected children.

The accredited Child Advocacy Center team serves children and families in 28 counties across eight states, nine tribes, and eight federal and state investigative agencies.

CAN’s capital campaign committee raised more funds than their goal to expand their resources.They raised $11 million for the project.

The increase of cases also means increase in staff at CAN facility.

“We might have federal and tribal law enforcement coming. Where before we might have just had one detective and one child welfare worker,” Guten said.

In the tight space of the current building, staff must step away to another space in order to speak confidentially with a family or a client.

The current waiting room gets crammed, and they have only two forensic interview rooms.

Only one forensic room is available to staff because the other room is used for tribal or federal cases.

In the new building, case workers will have access to nine forensic interview rooms.

The number of office spaces will more than double from seven to eighteen.

Waiting areas will increase to eleven from just the three they have currently.

Something the new building will offer that they haven’t had before is therapy rooms.

“We continue on with the work with the child and with the family in a therapeutic way, and because we have space now, we’ll be able to have our therapy partners on site to work with those kids. So, the family can still come back here for services,” she said.

In 2020, more than 15,000 children were found to be victims of child abuse and/or neglect according to the Oklahoma Department of Human Services. The number of substantiated victims of child abuse and neglect in Tulsa County increased 13 percent from 2017 to 2020.

To report child abuse, call the Oklahoma Hotline at (800) 522-3511 or the National Hotline at (800) 422-4453.

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