Oklahoma Child Protection Committee To Disband By December

Thursday, July 24th 2014, 8:26 pm
By: News 9

A team that analyzes hundreds of child abuse cases in the state is set to dissolve by the end of the year.

Medical experts on the committee say they can't continue providing services because there's no money.

For years, the Child Protection Committee has met every week to discuss dozens of child abuse cases. It is expertise that investigators rely on and may not be able to get in the future.

"I think we're months away from the citizens in the state of Oklahoma to have resources taken from them that have been something that's been proven invaluable," Assistant District Attorney for Oklahoma County, Gayland Gieger, said.

The Child Protection Committee is made up of doctors, DHS workers, prosecutors and police officers.

"We've always had the opportunity to meet with them, staff cases with them, get their input on cases and, if needed, get their testimony worked out so that we know exactly what they're going to be able to testify to and what we can prove to court," Gieger added.

Doctors say their services cost about $300,000, but the state only pays the team more than $20,000.

University of Oklahoma’s College of Medicine foots the rest of the bill.

Anthony Kibble is a part of the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth which oversees the committee. Kibble says he hopes there will be a better way to fund the program.

"The children, who are in abused or neglected situations or who have been sexually exploited, and it requires a lot of medical examination and testimony, those children will be even more vulnerable in the absence of this team," Kibble said.

A statement from Dr. Robert Roswell, an OU Senior Associate Dean and Professor of Medicine, says:

“With resources tightening each year and no new funding in sight, the Department of Pediatrics will focus on its core missions of medical care and physician training. Its physicians will continue to provide treatment to injured children and report suspected abuse cases to law enforcement, but the additional consultative services are provided at other state or non-profit organizations with comparable expertise.”

As of July, the Child Protection Committee is no longer taking cases outside of Oklahoma County. Rural departments who relied on the medical experts for child abuse cases will have to seek help from other professionals at their expense.

The Child Protection Committee is scheduled to end its services by December.