Children’s advocacy center gets help from CN
Children’s handprints line the wall at the William W. Barnes Children’s Advocacy Center in Claremore, Oklahoma. Youth who visit the center are given the chance to get paint on their hands and leave their handprints on the walls. STACIE GUTHRIE/ CHEROKEE PHOENIX
CLAREMORE, Okla. – With the goal of helping children in their most vulnerable state, the William W. Barnes Children’s Advocacy Center helps make the process more “confortable” for children when they need to disclose abuse, whether it’s physical or sexual.
On May 19, the Cherokee Nation donated $12,000 to the center to help it provide services for Rogers, Mayes and Craig county children.
Holly Webb, the center’s executive director, said the center is “all about the child.”
“What we do here is we work with law enforcement, child welfare and the district attorney’s office, and we provide services to children who have disclosed abuse. So when a disclosure is made through law enforcement or child welfare, the child comes to our center, and our center is very child-friendly,” she said. “It’s all about the child. We want the child to feel as confortable as they possibly can. We have on staff a forensic interviewer who is trained to speak with children in a non-leading court-worthy way. We have a family advocate who is able to work with the family, the non-offending parent, provide crisis intervention educational materials. We also have mental health therapy available to the child, and then we also have two doctors who are able to come to the center as needed for child abuse examinations.”
Webb said the center has rooms for specific tasks. She said the room where children are interviewed is blue, which she said helps to act as a “calming room.”
“It’s just real soft. It’s just a calming room and this is where our forensic interviewer (Jodie Hunt) interviews the child,” she said. “Our other room is where law enforcement and child welfare watch the interview. They watch the interview as the forensic interviewer is speaking with the child. Our interviewer will step out and speak with them to see if there is any additional questions or anything that they might have.”
She said the center also has a room where doctors can perform child abuse exams.
“It’s just some place that they don’t have to go wait in an emergency room for hours,” she said.
Webb said all services offered at the center are “no cost” to the family.
“This is something that is provided to the family. They don’t have to worry about how they’re going to pay for the medical exam or how they’re going to pay for therapy. We pick up all of that for them,” Webb said.
Webb said the tribe has been a “wonderful” supporter of the center.
“If you look at the artwork on our wall, it was done by Cherokee Nation children. We have an office space here for Cherokee Nation (Indian) Child Welfare so when they need a place to land they’re able to come to the center,” she said. “They have supported us not just financially but other ways, too.”
Secretary of State Chuck Hoskin Jr. said the tribe donates to the organization because it “makes such a difference in the lives” of vulnerable children.
“Those are kids that have been the victims of child abuse. When you’re helping kids that have been abused that is a high priority for the Cherokee Nation.”
The center is located at 213 E. Patti Page St. For more information, call 918-283-2800.