Tahlequah Daily Press


July 6, 2007

Oklahoma first in deaths of abused children


“This unit also works with birth parents who express a desire to voluntarily place their children for adoption,” said Merriman. “Consultation to birth parents is provided, explaining all the rights and obligations of such a decision.”

Both Prout and Merriman agree that lack of funding and staffing create problems for both CASA and CN Children, Youth and Family Services.

“We lost 19 volunteers in just the past year,” said Prout. “It reduced the number of children served by about 50. While the remaining volunteers picked up cases left by others, it has prevented us from being able to take on new cases.”

Merriman said the tribe is involved in a few pilot child abuse and neglect prevention programs, but the focus is on the overwhelming number of cases already on the books.

“While the tribe has given us additional funding for prevention, we have to put out the fires first,” said Merriman. “We have so many families who need help, especially with all the drug abuse - particularly methamphetamine. While we’d like to have more out there regarding prevention, we have to help the children in danger first.”

Contact Teddye Snell at tsnell@tahlequahdailypress.com.

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