State Sen. Kim David has won committee approval for a measure to expand Oklahoma’s Child Abuse Response Team (CART) program. First launched in 2005, the concept was to utilize investigators who were highly trained in investigating child abuse, including forensic interviews of children and case development for prosecution, to oversee and coordinate the investigation of such cases.
“Right now the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation (OSBI) has two CART investigators. Senate Bill 639 would expand that to eight investigators,” explained David, R-Porter. “These investigators are highly trained and experienced in interviewing young victims and can manage the progression of the case and act as liaison with other government agencies involved, like the Department of Human Services, Mental Health and district attorneys.”
In 2011, there were more than 8000 confirmed cases of child abuse and neglect in Oklahoma, including children who had been physically abused and sexually assaulted. David noted that sometimes child abuse can involve multiple jurisdictions that could be more easily handled by having investigators based within the OSBI.
“Using this team approach, we can better coordinate resources, and do a better job of protecting thousands of Oklahoma children—many of them have survived unspeakable abuse, and often at the hands of the people they counted on to take care of them,” David said.
David said the effort to add more investigators and expand the use of the CART program dovetailed with the ongoing efforts to reform how DHS handles child abuse cases.
SB 639, which was approved by the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, now moves to the full Senate for consideration.