First Teleconference Features Dr. Patrick McGough & Commerce Sec. Kouplen
OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will begin a series of online “Weekly Child Advocacy Chats” to provide critical information Oklahomans need in this unprecedented time. “The idea is to make sure Oklahomans have access to important news relating to the primary issues of the day that have an impact on the state’s children,” said Joe Dorman, OICA’s chief executive officer. “We intend to bring together healthcare professionals, key decision-makers, and subject matter experts to the chats, giving Oklahomans a chance to hear from them and ask questions. The first of the chats is slated for Wednesday, April 1, beginning at 11:45 a.m. This first chat will be a teleconference across the “Zoom” internet platform. Continue Reading →
With this new way of life, all ages face significant challenges. Adults must work from home or seek unemployment assistance. Youth must do their coursework over the Internet and with computers and, for some, miss out on major life events like prom, graduation, or programs dear to them. As we adapt, please keep in mind this generation of young Americans is facing the most traumatic change in their short lives. We must have patience with them. Continue Reading →
To better keep you informed, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is planning a telephone town hall for April 1, with hopefully other calls to follow each week. The telephone town hall will allow Oklahomans to hear from health care professionals, government leaders, and other experts about COVID-19, the U.S. Census, and critical government services. Those on the call will have the ability to ask questions. If you would like to register for the calls, please go to oica.org and sign up. There will be a limited number of people who can be on the call due to financial realities, so sign up soon. Continue Reading →
The Oklahoma Legislature is debating for school suspensions increases again this year.
Oklahoma currently allows two suspension options for disruptive sixth grade students and older found guilty of assault and battery, for possessing alcohol or drugs on campus or at a school function, or for breaking local school policies. Those options are out-of-school suspensions and in-school suspensions. Schools are allowed to impose a maximum suspension for the current semester and entire next semester. A group has been pushing lawmakers to also allow in-school suspensions for elementary students who misbehave. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is instead offering a positive alternative to this “kick them out” mentality at all grade levels; ask the student what has caused them to act out before punishing them. Continue Reading →
Now that the 2020 session of the Oklahoma Legislature is underway, we have a better idea of measures we as child advocates must support and those about which we must be cautious. Normally there are 149 lawmakers, 101 state representatives and 48 state senators. There are currently two vacancies, one in the House of Representatives and one in the Senate. The 147 left were busy, filing 2,243 new bills for this year. Combined with the those still alive from last year, lawmakers have more than 4,500 bills bouncing around the State Capitol that could be considered. Continue Reading →
Gov. Kevin Stitt delivered his second “State of the State” to the Oklahoma Legislature Monday on the first day of the Second Session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature. The bicameral legislative branch meets from the first Monday in February until they must constitutionally conclude business on or before 5 p.m. the final Friday in May. Along with the speech, the various newly-submitted bills offered by the lawmakers were considered “first read” on the opening day, another constitutional mandate. The Oklahoma Constitution requires bills be read at least three times on three separate days in each house before it could be sent to the governor for consideration. This provision prevents lawmakers from rushing through a proposal any faster than five calendar days, a safeguard protecting citizens and allowing the press to monitor every bill. Having said that, in 25 years of working in and around the State Capitol, I only remember bills passing in the constitutional minimum five days only a few times, and those were in special sessions called specifically to deal with one issue. OICA has not taken an official position on most of Governor Stitt’s proposals, but I want to share with you some of what was discussed. The governor asked lawmakers to set aside $100 million of current funds for the state savings account, the so-called “Rainy Day” fund. The governor said the state’s greatest challenge is dealing with reducing bureaucracy and securing the fiscal stability of the state. Continue Reading →
It is less than a week before the second session of the 57th Oklahoma Legislature convenes, and we hear from Governor Stitt about his proposals in the annual State of the State address.
The issues facing young people in our state and nation are often depressing. The adverse experiences which plague children – and then often repeat when those grown children have kids of their own – have created widespread problems affecting health, the economy, workforce, and life expectancy. These issues also have an overall impact with how well our rankings appear with other states. I have mixed emotions and predictions about what we will see as far as improvements for Oklahoma, but I always lean toward optimism. I am even hopeful that this being an election year will not deter good ideas simply from party-line stubbornness. Continue Reading →
The latest report from America’s Health Rankings shows a slight improvement in Oklahoma on a critical child wellbeing area, Adverse Childhood Experiences also called ACEs. Sadly, Oklahoma is still the worst in the nation in the frequency of Adverse Childhood Experiences among our children, but awareness is making a difference. The study examined the percentage of children ages 0-17 who endured two or more of the following ACEs: economic hardship; parental divorce or separation; living with someone who had an alcohol or drug problem; neighborhood violence victim or witness; living with someone who was mentally ill, suicidal or severely depressed; domestic violence witness; parent served jail time; being treated or judged unfairly due to race/ethnicity; or death of parent (2-year estimate).
The reports shows that the national average of 20.5% endured ACEs, which is a slight decrease from recent years. In Oklahoma, 28.5% of our youth have two or more of these toxic, long-term experiences. The good news is the number is down from 32% in recent research. This issue goes beyond family and the children impacted. A September report Psychology Today examined lost economics in the workplace because of ACEs across two continents. The study looked at immediate losses for employers who lost time on the job with their employees, as well as the long-term impact of reduced productivity or health-related costs for mental and physical health conditions. In Europe, the total annual costs from ACEs was $581 billion or 2.67% of the GDP. In North America, it was worse, with an economic hit of $748 billion or 3.6 percent of the GDP, mostly from alcohol abuse and anxiety issues. Continue Reading →
As we step into a new year, and debatably a new decade
depending upon who you ask if decades start with a 0 year or a 1, we at the
Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy are looking for a brighter future for
Oklahoma’s children. This not only the
tag line for our new desktop calendars, but also for our feeling that this will
be the year when we truly begin to turn things in a new direction for our state. This optimism comes from several factors which we will be
facing as a state, and also a few challenges that we each will need to hold
ourselves accountable to be better. Starting with the challenges, we are facing a hostile
election year when the rancor at the state and federal level generally stoops
to a low point in civility. While we may
or may not like who currently holds an office or might see improved
opportunities in their challengers, it is important to keep the conversation at
a respectful level. In other words, when
debating about politics, do not behave in a way that you would punish your
children for acting similarly.
A definite challenge with a financial advantage for our
state will be the tension between the United States and the Middle East. Oil prices jumped and stocks fell on news
that a powerful Iranian military leader had been killed in a strike authorized
by the United States last week, ratcheting up geopolitical tensions in a region
that supplies around 25 percent of the world’s oil and threatening to disrupt
global supply. That result led oil prices to surge to more than $70 per barrel,
which creates a greater demand for local oil.
Oklahoma’s portion of the state budget dependent upon this commodity was
written last year to be based on $54.23 per barrel. While other areas might see a decline, this
increase, if long term, will provide additional revenue for lawmakers to help
fill in gaps with areas of need. A positive we see is the opportunity presented by the US
Census. If Oklahoma improves our
population count, there is a chance to restore a Congressional seat by taking
one from a larger state like California.
This also improves the resources coming to our state from the federal
government, so more funding for road, bridges and schools. Continue Reading →
As 2019 comes to a close, it seems safe to say that many Americans will not look back on this year as one of the country’s finest moments. It has become almost cliché to bemoan political polarization, lack of civility in politics and in public dialogue, inequality, or racism as a sign that something in our culture and politics has been poisoned. For many, regardless of political party or ideology or age, this is not the best of times. So, as we enter the New Year, here is my challenge to us all: Do something about it. Start 2020 with a shared mission and a determination that we can all be better, and do better, for our state and our nation. Let’s all be personally responsible for doing what we can to improve Oklahoma for the next generation and beyond. Former State Auditor Clifton Scott often would comment about his service that he “wanted to make sure he left the woodpile just a little bit higher than he found it.” This meant that he wanted his service to improve that state in some way better than when he started his political career. Continue Reading →