As a new CASA Advocate Coordinator, Rector will work with CASA volunteers to ensure that abused and neglected children do not “fall through the cracks” of the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in foster care.

NORTHEAST OKLAHOMA - Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO) has announced Jay Rector has been hired to serve as a new CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Advocate Coordinator. Rector will be supervising CASA volunteers who serve the children involved in court cases in Craig and Mayes Counties as well as the Quapaw tribal court.

As a new CASA Advocate Coordinator, Rector will work with CASA volunteers to ensure that abused and neglected children do not “fall through the cracks” of the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in foster care.

Rector, who lives in Grove with his wife of 25 years and five-year-old granddaughter, was working as a special education teacher for Claremore Public Schools. He is an active member of First Christian Church in Grove and enjoys boating and creating stained glass artwork.

When interviewed recently, Rector was ecstatic as the adoption of his granddaughter, a long and arduous two-year process, was being finalized the next day. Rector stated, “I think that is actually one of the things that’s going to make me very, very successful at this job. It’s that I know the fight from both sides. So, it’s just a glorious day!”

Rector brings an impressive background to his new job as Advocate Coordinator. He has been a part-owner of an airfreight company in Los Angeles and has worked for several local non-profit organizations, including the Tulsa Community Food Bank and the Tulsa SPCA. He also served on the original Board of Directors of the Jenks Community Food Bank. In addition, Rector served on the Jenks City Council for four years and then as a member of the Planning Commission for three years.

Rector shared, “I served the City of Jenks for seven years and absolutely loved it. I was a part of the new Jenks bridge. I had the great pleasure of turning one of the first shovels of dirt for what was then the Jenks Aquarium, now the Oklahoma Aquarium.”

However, after moving to a lake-front home near Grove in 2002, Rector decided to return to school.

“I returned to college to become a teacher and I taught high school special education. I was a behavior specialist my entire (educational) career, so I dealt with those with emotional disturbances and behavioral disorders,” he said.

Rector served schools in Neosho, Missouri and Ketchum, Broken Arrow, and Claremore, Oklahoma.

Rector sais his granddaughter was the reason he became a CASA volunteer last summer. He shared, “I saw this opportunity and I thought about people who don’t have the ability or don’t have the education or knowledge to fight these battles. There are kids out there that go into the foster system or go to the wrong place. So, I pursued this job because I wanted to fight for the little ones.”

“I love that investigative nature of our job,” Rector added. “You just have to look at every angle, you just have to open every door, and those kinds of things.”

“I think it boils down, in a funny way, to ICWA (Indian Child Welfare Act)," said Rector. “When it comes into play, the basic goal or the basic premise of it is, ‘Was an active effort made by every party in the best interest of the child and was the same active effort made to keep the child aware of their Indian nature, their Indian background?’ Active effort should apply to everything."

“It should not be just ICWA," Rector continued. “It should be how you cook your dinner, how you do everything. Active effort is the key and that’s what I’m trying to bring to this job – active effort on everything. Did the mother and father do the active effort, did the police, did DHS, did I?”

When asked about specific goals for his new position, Rector stated, “I think the very first goal I have is to sit down and shut up, because I really think I know a lot, but I want to know how they do it. But I want to learn. I’m a life-long learner and I just really think that I need to be quiet and to listen.

“I have very a specific goal of being the ‘volunteer’s volunteer’. What I mean by that is when you’re somebody’s supervisor and you don’t understand their job, then you can’t supervise them. Well, I’ve been a volunteer for a very long time and I know what it takes to keep a volunteer, I know what volunteers want, I know what volunteers need to stick around. And so, I know how to treat a volunteer because I am one.”

Typically, Rector can be seen clad in Hawaiian shirts and listening to beach music and he enjoys working on stained-glass art pieces in his spare time. Rector shared, “I’m really laid back and I think that allows me to be inoffensive in a way and not intrusive. I mean I can get into places because I just kind of fit in.”

Rector said that he wants to be thought of as a little quirky.

“I think outside the box. I think differently. I push the envelope, whatever term you want to use,” he shared.

Summing it up, Rector said he wants to be thought of as helpful and looks forward to this new opportunity to help abused and neglected children in northeastern Oklahoma.

Child Advocates of Northeast Oklahoma (CANO)

Child Advocates of Northeastern Oklahoma is a CASA agency that recruits, trains, and supports community volunteers to be the “voice” for abused and neglected children in the judicial system. With offices in Claremore and Miami, the organization supports CASA volunteers in five counties in northeastern Oklahoma – Rogers, Mayes, Craig, Ottawa, and Delaware Counties. CANO also serves the courts of the Quapaw Tribe of Oklahoma.

CANO is a member agency of the United Way of Rogers and Mayes Counties and the Ottawa County United Way.