CASA volunteers to serve members of the Quapaw Tribe

Quapaw Chairman John Berrey (left) and Melinda Stotts, vice-president of the CANO Board of Directors.

Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) has entered a into formal agreement with the Quapaw Tribe to provide Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) for abused and neglected children under their tribal jurisdiction.

A tribal judge will assign CASA volunteers to cases of child abuse and neglect within the tribal court system. Once assigned, CASA volunteers have the power to observe the child’s situation, report to the court, make recommendations and ask for changes that are in the best interest of the child.

That child will have a “new voice” in the courtroom and a better chance for finding a safe, loving forever home.

Jon D. Douthitt, District Court Judge for the Quapaw Tribal Court, was key in getting this agreement formalized. Judge Douthitt is delighted to see it come to fruition.

“Children can be lost in the shuffle during legal proceedings that will profoundly affect them,” Douthitt said. “CASA works to make sure that these children’s interests are protected and that the impact of the court proceedings on them is reduced to the extent possible.”

In the 1800’s, the Quapaw Tribe, like so many others, was relocated to a reservation in Oklahoma Territory. Most of the Quapaw people still live in the state today. The Tribe’s headquarters, which is located in Quapaw, Okla., lies within the 13th Judicial District which CANO currently is serving.

“The board members of CANO are very happy to have the opportunity to provide CASA services to the Quapaw tribe,” said CANO Board President Susan Young. “We look forward to working with Judge Douthitt, Chairman Berrey, and the Quapaw Tribal Courts to assure the safety and security of all the tribe’s children.

“This expansion into the Quapaw Tribal Court is a ‘win-win’ for all involved,” she said.

People interested in learning more about becoming a CASA volunteer or who want to sign up for CASA training classes can contact Gayle Hanson, training coordinator at 785-623-6955 or 918-923-4570 or email her at gayle@cano-casa.com.

Additional information about CASA may be found on the CANO website: http://cano-casa.com/volunteer.

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