This past weekend, the news reported a child died because they were left in a car for hours. The temperatures are not even up to their summer highs and yet our vehicles can still become deadly for small children. Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma desperately wants everyone to be aware of this danger. Although the majority of our work is done in the courtroom, ultimately, we are advocates for children no matter what dangers and trials face them.

According to the National Safety Council, on average 37 children die in hot cars every year in the United States. Incidents peak between Memorial Day and Labor Day, when between two and three kids die each week. In 2018, 51 children (an increase from 42 the previous year) died in hot cars. To put things into perspective, only 35 people died in tornadoes that same year in the United States.

“Parents of infants and toddlers – especially those who work outside of the home – are often sleep deprived, stressed out, and distracted,” said Angela Henderson, Executive Director of Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma. “I want to encourage parents to create situational awareness around their vehicles – even when we’re positive that there are no children strapped inside. Those few seconds of certainty could save a life.”

Inside a parked vehicle with the windows rolled up, the temperature inside the vehicle can quickly soar to 20 degrees above the temperature outside the car in just 10 minutes. According to the Mayo Clinic, heatstroke occurs when a person’s core body temperature rises to 104 degrees. A core body temperature of 107 degrees could result in irreversible organ damage or even death. Young children are especially at risk, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics, because their bodies heat up three to five times faster than an adult’s.

Safe Kids Worldwide produced the ACT Now Toolkit (, which offers a number of tips to prevent heatstroke accidents:

  1. Never leave a child alone in a vehicle – not even for a minute while you run inside.
  2. Keep your car doors locked when you are not in the car so that kids don’t gain access to the interior of the car without your knowledge.
  3. Create a reminder by putting something you need in the backseat of the car next to your child – a briefcase, a purse, a cell phone, or a left shoe.
  4. If you walk past a car and see a child alone inside, call 911.
  5. Set a calendar reminder on your phone to make sure you dropped your child off at daycare; develop a plan so that you’ll be alerted if your child is late or is a no-show.

“One of the easiest ways to ensure that your child is safe is to check the backseat of your car before you turn off your vehicle,” said Henderson. “Just like the routine of strapping on your seatbelt before starting the car, you can train yourself to check behind you before you turn off your car. Before you know it, a new habit is formed – one that could save a life.”

Henderson said today’s busy parents need to practice extreme self-care. “We live in a society that is increasingly speeding up and that looks down on parents if they can’t do it all,” she said. “As a society, we need to tune in to the young families around us and ask, ‘How can I help?’”

Henderson suggests members of churches, synagogues, clubs, community organizations or just neighbors look around for young families who need help.

“They may look like they’ve got it all together,” she said, “Offer to help. Babysit one afternoon or evening to give a tired parent some time off. Stop through a drive-thru and order dinner for a family or give them a gift certificate to a local restaurant. Offer to help around the house – give a harried mom a ‘gift certificate’ for one week’s worth of laundry to be washed and folded by you.”

“When we think about what it was like to have little ones running around the house, we remember that along with the obvious joys children bring us, sometimes being a parent is really, really hard,” she said.


April is Child Abuse Prevention month nationally, and Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) has joined with Pump N Pete’s Corp of Erie on a pledge card fundraiser during April.  Pete’s operates 47 convenience stores and fuel stations in Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma and the effort will benefit 5 CASA organizations in those same areas CASA of the 31st Judicial District, CASA of the 23rd and Bourbon County CASA in Kansas; Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma and Southwest Missouri Child Advocates.

“Pinwheels for Prevention – Partners for Children” is an easy, stress-free and fun way to help children in foster care.  Pete’s cashiers will ask you to donate and all you do is say YES!  You get to sign a Pinwheel Pledge Card and hang it in the store to commemorate your donation. If you donate $5 or more at one time you get a raffle ticket good for a chance at winning a $25 cash prize in each store and the winners from each store will go on to a GRAND PRIZE DRAWING at the end of April for $250 at the Pete’s Corporate Office in Parsons.

The funds raised are used to recruit, train, prepare and support Advocate Volunteers who are appointed by County Judges to help children who have been abused or neglected and found to be in need of care by the court.  The Advocates partner with the children, speak up for their best interest in court and guide them successfully through their time in foster care.  Once appointed, the CASA is always there for the child until he or she is released from custody.  Funds have also been used in emergencies to pay for athletics, music lessons, summer camp, winter coats, Christmas gifts, adoption gifts, life books, special equipment and special clothing for children in the CASA programs. CASA programs are non-profit and must raise their own funds.

The Pinwheel Fundraiser is in its sixth year and Pete’s Corporation has made it a competition between stores, area managers and district managers, even offering corporate incentives to all employees to do their best for CASA.  From there the managers and employees have gotten very creative and have taken the competition to heart!  All stores do something special or host an event to supplement the fundraiser and many do some truly zany things.  Several managers have taken cream pies to the face if the store reaches a set goal or offered to get dunked in a water tank for extra money; others have thrown a BBQ or pizza party when employees post so many pledge cards.  There were dueling bake sales between stores in the same town; car washes that got drowned by rain but continued anyway; body painting; dance-a-thons; characters greeting customers; lotto winnings donated by employees and customers and public competition to have the most pinwheels on the wall! In the end, CASA throws a luncheon party, awards a trophy and publicly recognizes the top fundraising Pump’n Pete’s Store in each state, both individually and at the following Pump’n Pete’s Corporate meeting at Parsons, KS.

CASA and Pump’n Pete’s invite everyone to join the fun and help unfortunate children at the same time. Children who did nothing wrong but wound up in foster care anyway. Donations to CASA are fully tax deductible and CASA is recognized as a 501(c)(3) charity by the IRS.

Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma Continues to be a GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency Organization

Great news! Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma just earned the 2018 Platinum Seal of Transparency from GuideStar, the world’s largest source of nonprofit information. By sharing these metrics, we’re helping the sector move beyond simplistic financial ratios to assess nonprofit progress.

We chose to display quantitative metrics such as Program Goals, Past Results, and Budget to represent
how hard Child Advocates is working toward achieving our mission. Organizations and people who support our cause deserve to know their hard-earned dollars are being used in the best possible way. Having the Platinum Seal of Transparency is the best way for our donors to know we are serious about using funds in appropriate ways that further our cause and help children.

We’re proud to use GuideStar Platinum to share our full and complete story with the world. To reach
the Platinum level, we added extensive information to our Nonprofit Profile: basic contact and
organizational information, in-depth financial information, quantitative information about goals,
strategies, and progress toward our mission.