Okla. Child Advocates Criticize Possible Funding Cuts

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - A children's advocacy group and others are criticizing the Oklahoma Department of Health for threatening to eliminate child abuse prevention services if the agency's budget is cut.

State Health Department officials said last week that if the agency's budget is slashed by 5 percent in the 2012 fiscal year because of decreased revenues, the Office of Child Abuse Prevention would be eliminated.

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy executive director Linda Terrell said Friday her group is disappointed the agency is making children "political bait" in the debate over budget cuts.

The Health Department's Mark Newman says children are important and officials don't want to cut the program.

But he says the agency must look at its core public health imperatives - restaurant food safety, disease prevention and disease outbreak response.