Children, Youth & Family Services


The Cherokee Nation’s Children, Youth & Family Services department is a fully integrated support system for children and families who need stability and consistency in times of crisis or uncertainty.

Programs administered by Children, Youth & Family Services include:

John A. Ketcher Youth Center

The mission of the Cherokee Nation’s John A. Ketcher Youth Center is to strengthen the wellness of children, youth and families through prevention and redirecting those who have gotten off track. Strong, healthy individuals who live free of violence, drugs and alcohol are the foundation of vibrant communities, and vibrant communities help to preserve the Cherokee culture and promote family self-sufficiency. Named in honor of Cherokee statesman, former Deputy Chief and former tribal council member John A. Ketcher, the center has three main components:

•  Emergency youth shelter 
•  Juvenile first time offender program 
•  Community outreach and prevention education 

All services at the John A. Ketcher Youth Center are free of charge and to open to everyone regardless of race.

Mailing address:
Cherokee Nation Youth Services
PO Box 948
Tahlequah, OK 74465

Physical address:
John A. Ketcher Youth Services Center
21834 S. Jules Valdez Road
Tahlequah, OK 74464

Office: 918-458-4440
FAX: 918-458-7655
Toll Free: 877-696-8890 (Oklahoma only)

Emergency Youth Shelter

The emergency youth shelter is a short-term residential option for runaways, homeless, abused, neglected, and other youth facing family conflicts and other crisis situations. The shelter serves an average of 200 youth annually and has operated since 1978.

Juvenile First Time Offender program

The goal of the juvenile first time offender program is to redirect the paths of young people facing first time misdemeanor charges by offering alternative means of dealing with the violation. It requires children ages 10-17 to participate in a minimum 14 hour course, including community service. This program is currently offered in Cherokee County.

Community Outreach & Prevention Education

Counseling services are available to young people at home, school, or other community setting that is most effective for his or her particular crisis. Counseling services are also available for youth that have left the shelter and returned home. This aspect of the John A. Ketcher Youth Center also offers community education, working with individuals, agencies and communities in promoting safe and healthy home environments. The target area for the outreach counseling is in Cherokee County.