Child Abuse Network Surpasses Fundraising Goal - Raises Nearly $11 Million
New Children's Advocacy Center Coming to Tulsa in 2023
A new Child Advocacy Center will open at the Child Abuse Network (CAN) in 2023 thanks to the successful fundraising efforts of local volunteers and philanthropic partners.
Rehabilitation of the former University of Oklahoma Physicians (OU Physicians) building will officially begin this month as CAN’s capital campaign committee, working in conjunction with local firm Write On Fundraising, celebrates surpassing its original goal of $8.9M to raise nearly $11M. The funds will completely transform the 35,000-square foot building currently located on CAN’s campus and more than double their existing capacity to serve abused and neglected children.
“We have been completely overwhelmed by the generous response from donors and community members who share our commitment to helping children and families heal from abuse and neglect,” said Kala Sharp, campaign chair. “The legacy of those who have given to this campaign is one of deep compassion, empathy, and advocacy.”
The committee raised the majority of their goal in the first nine months of the “quiet phase” during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, but then slowed down to invite more community investment through their “Superhero Summer” fundraising initiative. A gift of $2M from the A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation pushed CAN over the finish line and ensured that the organization would not need to finance construction or incur any interest, a rare accomplishment for many capital projects.
“The A.R. and Marylouise Tandy Foundation is tremendously excited to join with many other generous donors in support of CAN,” said Michael Hopper, executive vice president and COO of Trust Company Oklahoma. “We are proud to support CAN in its mission to provide a single, safe and comfortable location for child abuse victims and their families to receive the crucial case management services they require. Through these efforts, we believe that the cycle of abuse in our community can be stopped and families impacted by these traumatic events can begin to heal.”
Additional major donors to the project include the Anne and Henry Zarrow Foundation; Barnett Family Fund; Dr. Robert Block; Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies; David and Lisa Holden Foundation; David E. and Cassie E. Temple Foundation; Robyn and Larry Ewing; George and Jenny Collins Foundation; Grace and Franklin Bernsen Foundation; Maura and Judge David Guten; Hardesty Family Foundation; Alana Hughes; Patrick and Paula Kuykendall; John and Jennifer Matson; Mervin Bovaird Foundation; Morningcrest Healthcare Foundation; Ruth Nelson; Bryan and Teresa Nowlin; ONEOK; Ray and Rebecca Poudrier; Link Group Consulting; Kala and Gary Sharp; Stephan and Kaitlin Snider; Rebecca Thompson and Geoffrey Simpson; Carley and Carrie Williams; Scott Vaughn; and an additional $75,000 in gifts from CAN’s board of directors.
Dr. Robert Block, credited as the “father of the field of Child Abuse Pediatrics” and long-time friend of CAN, served as the capital campaign’s Honorary Chair. Kala Sharp, ONEOK vice president of administration for natural gas and CAN board member for 10+ years, championed the campaign in the community as chair.
Additional committee volunteers included Alana Hughes, recently retired program director for Charles and Lynn Schusterman Family Philanthropies; Annie Tomecek, community relations supervisor at T.D. Williamson; Kaitlin Snider, AVP of brand strategy for Ardent Health Services; Dr. John Schumann, executive medical director at Oak Street Health and former president of OU-Tulsa; Dr. Bruce Dart, Ph.D., executive director at the Tulsa Health Department; Trent Shores, attorney at GableGotwals; Kuma Roberts, chief diversity and inclusion officer at Arrowhead Consulting; Obum Ukabam, associate director of OK Catalyst; Rania Nasreddine, community volunteer and philanthropist; and Paula Kuykendall, community volunteer, philanthropist, and CAN board president.
“It’s true that the right committee makes or breaks your fundraising campaign,” said CAN board chair, Paula Kuykendall, “and we have been so fortunate to have champions like Kala Sharp, Dr. Robert Block, and Alana Hughes to carry our message to the community and rally support for the growing number of children seen at CAN.”
According to Maura Guten, CAN CEO, the center regularly serves more than 200 children per month - 150% of the center’s original capacity. More than 40 professionals currently share 11,320 square feet spread throughout two buildings; however, for the safety and security of children served by CAN, access to more than 80% of this space is restricted.
This spacial squeeze has resulted in inadequate waiting room space for families in need, too few forensic interview rooms for members of the multidisciplinary team to conduct their work, and staff doubling or even tripling up in offices and having to step away to another space to speak confidentially with a client or family.
CAN’s capacity woes have also been exacerbated by challenges presented by the pandemic and the Supreme Court’s ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma. As a result of the July 2020 U.S. Supreme Court ruling on McGirt v. Oklahoma, CAN’s facilities now serve as the primary hub for multijurisdictional cases involving local tribes, bringing more agencies and an even greater number of professionals into the space.
The COVID-19 pandemic and its effects on society and the economy - including loss of jobs/income, increased stress related to reduced childcare options and increased schooling responsibilities, and increased substance use and mental health conditions among adults - have not only increased the number of cases being reported by OKDHS and school officials, but also show an alarming shift in the severity of abuse and neglect experienced by many children.
“CAN’s new facility doesn’t just offer more space to serve clients and families in need,” said Guten. “The rehabilitated center will allow us to nearly double the number of children we help each year, streamline the services offered to shared clients with the Family Safety Center (which will soon be co-located next door), and partner strategically with organizations like Fostering Hope to continue to bring cutting edge medical care to children and families healing from abuse.”
The soon-to-be-rehabilitated Child Abuse Network building at 28th and Sheridan designed by Selser Schaefer Architects, managed by Link Group Consulting, and built by Nabholz Construction Corporation will increase:
- the number of private office spaces from seven to 18;
- total waiting areas from three (only one of which is currently available to CAN staff because of overcrowding) to 11;
- forensic interview rooms from two (only one of which is currently available to CAN staff since one room has to be available for tribal/federal cases) to nine;
- and therapy rooms from zero to four, which will allow CAN and their partners to offer onsite therapy services for the first time and significantly reduce the wait times many children and families experience when accessing these services.
Oklahoma children experience more traumatic events during childhood than children in any other state in the nation. 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% from 2017 to 2020.
As an accredited Child Advocacy Center and one of the first of its kind in the nation, CAN’s multidisciplinary team serves children and families in one location (instead of three or more) for complete case management. CAN currently serves children and families in 28 counties across eight states, nine tribes, and eight federal and state investigative agencies.
To volunteer or learn more about CAN, email Maura Guten at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Child Advocacy Center at CAN is located at 2829 S. Sheridan road. To report child abuse, call the Oklahoma Hotline at (800) 522-3511 or the National Hotline at (800) 422-4453.
The Child Abuse Network, Inc. is a charter member of the National Children’s Alliance (formerly the National Network of Children’s Advocacy Centers). CAN was incorporated in 1988 and is the first of its kind in the state of Oklahoma. CAN is an independent, nonprofit corporation funded by community donations and grants (federal, state, and city). CAN was established by public and private community services agencies specifically to address:
- “System” re-traumatization of child abuse victims
- Coordination of services and programs for child abuse victims and their families
CAN’s centralized approach facilitates seamless communication among the multidisciplinary team of agencies that investigate child abuse. CAN is located in a safe, child-friendly facility known as the Children’s Advocacy Center, which was specially designed for the comfort of children, families, and the agencies involved in child abuse investigations.