The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

May 9, 2013

Daniels shares her story with advocacy group supporters

By Phyllis Zorn, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle

ENID, Okla. — Ashlei Daniels brought the crowd to total silence when she told supporters of Garfield County Child Advocacy Council how growing up in the foster care system gave her the chance to become a productive adult.

The 20-year-old from Fairview was removed from her mother’s home because of neglect and failure to protect.

“I was 10 when I was taken out of the home,” Daniels said. “I was the only one out of four siblings who was taken into foster care.”

Two sisters were older and her brother was too difficult to place in a foster home, Daniels said.

In the next eight years, she lived in 18 homes, a diagnostic center and three shelters.

“The first few years, I was angry that they took me away from my mom,” Daniels said.

That anger was the reason she was moved around so much, Daniels said. When her older brother died, it was a wake-up call.

“I promised him I would make something of my life,” Daniels said.

Now, Daniels is engaged to marry in a year. She is enrolled at Northwest Technology Center, where she plans to get her nursing license. She is a mentor for children in the foster care system. She also wants to become a foster parent.

“You can’t always promise everything is going to be OK, but you can make things a lot better,” Daniels said.

“I’m proud of you,” one of the listeners told Daniels after she finished speaking.

Carole Wade, executive director, said GCCAC is one of only 18 child advocacy agencies in the state, and the only one in northwest Oklahoma.

“Most of the children we interview, we interview about child sexual abuse,” Wade said. “I can tell you that we interviewed 100 children last year, and most of them were victims of child sexual abuse.”

The council provides a place for children who might have been abused to be interviewed, supervises reunification visits, operates a multi-disciplinary Child Abuse Response Team, makes presentations for professionals as part of Child Abuse Response Education, and is the home of the Court Appointed Special Advocates program for the Fourth Judicial District.

“We can decrease child abuse by increasing education of their parents,” Wade said.

Anyone over 21 with the desire and commitment to help an abused or neglected child can volunteer, Wade said.