OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is seeing an uptick in child abuse and neglect cases across the state.  

During the pandemic, children were at home and fewer cases were being reported. But, now as students are back in school and doing extracurriculars again, those numbers are going back up.  

“Some of that can be tied in with the economic situation families face. When people are stressed out, sometimes they will take that out on their family members and especially younger kids. And so that’s why it’s important for people to pay attention to what’s going on around them,” said Joe Dorman, CEO for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.  

A challenge the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is now facing is finding a place for the children to go. 

“It’s not just the reports of abuse and neglect, but when kids are taken into custody because of some issue, it’s trying to find a good place for them to be located,” said Dorman. 

They are also in need of more foster parents across Oklahoma.   

“We need families involved in these kids’ lives… The need of what we’re facing with thousands of kids taken into the custody of the state and placed in a home, whether it be a foster parent or a family member providing services to help take care of that child,” said Dorman.  

Joe Dorman, the CEO for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy said some Oklahoma kids have been moved out of state to places like Tennessee due to extreme situations. 

“They’re called level E facilities. Those are the enhanced cases where kids are very difficult to deal with, severe emotional problems. And we do have some level of facilities in the state, but not enough to handle the load of what we face,” said Dorman.  

Dorman also said the best way to tell if a child may need help is by watching their behavior. 

“You can tell from the behavior if somebody is mistreating a child when they’re out public, if they jerk them along… But you can tell the difference between a bruise from playing around and a bruise that may have been inflicted by an adult. And so just be vigilant and pay attention to those signs and call the proper authorities if you notice something suspicious,” said Dorman.  

The best way to report it is by contacting either the DHS hotline or local authorities.  

“During this time with the recovery from the pandemic, with the economic conditions people are facing, it’s important to be involved in people’s lives. Let’s not let this situation go further. If you can offer a helping hand to family members and be involved in the lives of these kids, that’s probably going to be the best prevention that you can do, is just being there to help these families get through the stress and the struggles that they’re facing, said Dorman.  

This week the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy will be hosting a Fall Forum. Attendees will hear from lawmakers about interim studies being conducted at the State Capitol, plus talk about passing bills to help combat the rise of cases across the state.  

If you would like to register for that, click here for more information.