Joe Dorman

Recent Articles

‘Tis the Season to Give to Foster Children

With Thanksgiving behind us, ‘tis the season for holiday decorations, non-stop Christmas music on the radio, and a lot of hard work for the public employees, OICA staff and volunteers working to get holiday presents for the roughly 8,000 Oklahoma children in foster care. That effort begins with caseworkers at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), who collect holiday wish lists from each foster child. Next, those wish lists are matched with partner organizations like OK Foster Wishes, the gift drive run by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) that works to fulfill these wish-lists with the help of generous donors. We are proud to say that OK Foster Wishes is the largest gift-drive for foster children in the state, fulfilling more than half of the Oklahoma foster children’s wish lists. OICA and DHS operate the OK Foster Wishes warehouse (a space being generously lent to us, free of charge, by Hobby Lobby) where gifts are stored, sorted and eventually sent out to children. Continue Reading →

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Children of Military Families Need Additional Support

Veterans Day is a wonderful and necessary holiday and a great time to give thanks to those that serve our nation. However, as we move on from this day, it is important to keep the needs of our veterans and active military personnel – as well as their families and children – on our minds all year. According to the US Census, there are 21,369,602 veterans in the United States, with 312,492 veterans currently living in Oklahoma.  That does not include the 1.3 million military personnel and more than 800,000 reserve forces serving nationwide, or the roughly 20,000 service members now living in Oklahoma. In the modern military, families experience increased stress from multiple deployments and longer tours of duty. Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, the United States has seen the largest sustained deployment of military servicemen and servicewomen in the history of the all-volunteer force. Continue Reading →

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Friday (11/2): OK Foster Wishes Kickoff Party

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will be kicking off its annual holiday gift drive for children in foster care tomorrow (Friday, November 2) from 5-7 PM at the Oklahoma’s Credit Union building at 3001 N. Lincoln Blvd in Oklahoma City. OK Foster Wishes is a collaboration between OICA, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and several other non-profits that provide transportation, storage and monetary support. Each year, OK Foster Wishes matches gift “wish lists” from children in foster care with adult donors who purchase the gifts for specific children. Attendees at tomorrow’s party will receive a wish list or, alternatively, can make a cash donation or bring a gift (gifts not paired with wish lists will be distributed to children and families who did not submit a list). OK Foster Wishes Kickoff Party Details

Friday, November 2
5 – 7 PM
Oklahoma Credit Union: 3001 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Continue Reading →

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Shining a Light on Children’s Issues Ahead of Election Day

Just one week to go before Election Day!  I am sure most Oklahomans are ready for this campaign cycle to end and see what the future holds for Oklahoma. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is prohibited from endorsing any candidate or party. Although I am from a political background myself, I have come to greatly appreciate our non-partisan role, as I believe it makes our organization a more effective force for improving the lives of children. No matter which party is in power, or who is running for office, OICA is able to shine a light on the issues that matter most to children. One way we have impacted the 2018 elections is through our candidate surveys, which you can find at OICA.org. Continue Reading →

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Three Key Interim Studies Focus on Children’s Issues

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) has had the opportunity over the past few months to work with state lawmakers on various issues covered in legislative interim studies.  If you are not familiar with these, state senators and representatives can request from the presiding officer of their respective chambers the opportunity to delve into a topic about an issue of importance.  Prior to the deadline for the filing period, we reached out to several lawmakers to request topics which would focus on important issues for Oklahoma children and families. The first study in which we played a part was the Oklahoma Senate study reviewing the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma-Informed Care.  This was a follow-up study to the one held last year in the House of Representatives by Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore.  Senator AJ Griffin filed this study prior to her departure from the Legislature, and we were pleased to continue that work with Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City and Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada.  The study assembled some of the best and brightest minds in Oklahoma regarding this topic and the seven lawmakers who were present asked very relevant questions.  I am certain this effort will lead to great work by the Trauma-Informed Care Task Force authored by Sen. Griffin and Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa in Senate Bill 1517 this past session.  In fact, there will be follow-up legislation to expand the membership and scope of the study to include greater regional representation for a statewide presence. The next study in which OICA participated was one requested by Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, which reviewed school suspension policy in Oklahoma.  The assembled presenters discussed the issues impacting students who face either in-school or out-of-school suspension in our state.  There has been legislation the past two years to modify how suspensions are treated for students who commit assault on a teacher or another student. Violence in the classroom is an extremely serious issue and something that absolutely must be dealt with. However, OICA continues to encourage policymakers not to simply back new laws that increase punishments for children who act out. Continue Reading →

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Grandparents Play a Key Role in Raising Children

For many youngsters, grandparents play a significant role in raising us and molding us into the people we become.  I often think about my extended family and how lucky I was to have so many people in my life who cared about me and helped me grow and develop.  Many Oklahoma children, unfortunately, are not as fortunate as I was; they do not have an older generation of family members in their lives who can teach and assist them in their formative years. While it is a well-documented fact that many children are lacking positive adult role models, the state is inadvertently exacerbating that situation, especially when it comes to grandparents. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court discussed parents’ fundamental rights to raise and rear their own children. It should be noted though, the Troxel case refused to strike down a Washington state law granting substantial grandparent visitation. Due to this, the Troxel case left states with varying degrees of grandparent visitation throughout the nation. Continue Reading →

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Journalists Fight for Those Without Money or Power

It is important to have people in your life who will motivate you at a young age to achieve beyond what others might feel is possible.  Having someone who believes in you can make a world of difference on in life. I am fortunate that I have had many like that who have encouraged me to go above and beyond what even I felt was my greatest potential. One of those individuals, unfortunately, passed away recently.  Jim Killackey was a longtime Oklahoman reporter who covered education and health-related issues for many years, some of those during the time I was a student at Oklahoma State University.  He, indirectly, was one of those who helped encourage me without ever knowing it. I had the opportunity and the pleasure to serve as a student senator and as the Chairman of the Student Government Association Senate during my undergraduate years.  In that role, I was a watchdog for my fellow students to ensure they were treated fairly as constituents in the student body. I often disagreed with members of the university administration and was vocal about my feelings. Continue Reading →

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Raising Awareness by Honoring Champions for Children

When I took the helm at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), the board of directors made it clear the mission of our organization needed to move back to our roots. Our mission is “creating awareness, taking action, and supporting policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”

Part of raising awareness about children’s issues is recognizing the good work that is already being done in our community. That recognition not only assigns credit where credit is due, but also encourages others to do good work as well. OICA’s way of encouraging that recognition is through our two premiere awards: the Laura Choate Resilience Award and the Moran Kidizenship Awards. OICA is now accepting nominations for both, through September 14th, and we hope the public will nominate many deserving recipients (nominees can be submitted at OICA.org). Continue Reading →

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Free School Lunch Programs Deserve Our Support

In an August 11 editorial, the Oklahoman newspaper argued for greater accountability for some parents who accept free school lunches for their children. “A policy that tells parents they’re free to freeload comes with predictable costs to all taxpayers,” the paper writes. The authors point to a story by Chalkbeat Colorado showing that costs increased for a Denver Public School district after schools adopted a policy to provide hot meals to all students (including those whose parents have an income high enough not to qualify for free or reduced cost lunches). After the policy change, schools expenses for unreimbursed meals ballooned from $13,000 to $356,000. The Denver policy may be an example of a well-intentioned but poorly thought-out plan. Continue Reading →

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History Proves Children Can Change the World

As we at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) work to help reform and improve public policy, one of the most frustrating things we hear is the mistaken assumption that children cannot or should not try to change the world. Young people, some say, should “wait their turn” to speak out on social issues or take on a community leadership role. While I agree that life experience is important, I would contend that passion, a willingness to learn, the and the ability to think with an open mind are equally as important. Often, these qualities are easier to find in children than adults, who can be closed-minded or unwilling to consider new information. I would also argue that some young people, even in their few years on this Earth, have had tremendous experiences that make them the most effective champions we need for positive change. Continue Reading →

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