NORMAN — Editor, The Transcript:
To those of you who are reading this editorial, I assume you care or at least are entertained by the opinions of others. It is my hope and desire that when you read this editorial, you will care about the facts. Here are the facts:
· Child abuse and neglect in Cleveland County increased 35 percent in 2013.
· More than 2,300 families in Cleveland County were involved in an investigation or assessment for child abuse or neglect in 2013.
· When we don’t intervene, children who have suffered abuse and neglect are: 66 percent more likely to abuse drugs, 59 percent more likely to be arrested as a juvenile, 33 percent more likely to become abusive parents and 25 percent more likely to drop out of high school.
The Center for Children and Families Inc. has been helping our community’s most vulnerable children and families for 45 years.
Under the direction of executive director, Katie Fitzgerald, CCFI provides a wide range of prevention and treatment services to children who have been abused and neglected and their families (including children in foster care), teen parents, children living in the highest-poverty neighborhoods in Norman and families struggling with divorce and other conflicts.
In 2013, CCFI stabilized foster-care placements for 100 percent of children in treatment services and helped 95 percent of teen parent clients graduate high school (the national graduation rate for a pregnant or parenting teen is 40 percent).
This same year, CCFI served close to 1,800 clients and gave away more than 93,000 diapers and thousands of formula cans to an additional 3,900 visitors to its public Baby Pantry.
There is an immediate and urgent need to increase the facility space for CCFI. CCFI has purchased an existing property at 210 S. Cockrel Ave. in Norman and is in the process of completing a $3.5 million campaign to renovate this facility to meet the growing needs of the most vulnerable children and families in our community. This new facility will provide a safe haven for our children and will allow for the creation of a multitude of new services and community partnerships.