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OICA Accepting Nominations for Laura Choate Resilience Award

Oklahoma-The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is now accepting nominations online for the Laura Choate Resilience Award. The award was created to celebrate individuals who have overcome significant childhood adversity to make a lasting contribution to the lives of young people. Nominees have exhibited bravery and demonstrated a dedication to fostering resilience in Oklahoma children. The public can submit nominations through OICA.org until September 29 at 5 PM. This award is named for Laura Choate, who served as a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that helped to uncover and reform widespread abuse and neglect within the state’s  juvenile justice system. Continue Reading →

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Friday, Sept. 22: Route 66 Coalition to Kick-Off Accountable Health Community

Oklahoma-Earlier this year the federal government selected the Route 66 Coalition, led by MyHealth Access Network, the Tulsa Health Department and the Oklahoma City-County Health Department to be the recipient of a $4.5 million grant to create an Accountable Health Community (AHC). The goal of the AHC is for social needs, not just medical needs, to be addressed in order to improve health outcomes and reduce health care costs. Through the Route 66 AHC, over 75,000 Oklahomans will be screened for social needs in five key areas: housing insecurity, food insecurity, utility assistance, interpersonal violence and transportation. Individuals and families in need will be connected to social service agencies through a coordinated navigation service based in each community’s health department. MyHealth Access Network is excited to announce the Oklahoma City AHC Kick-off event will take place next Friday, Sept. 22 at 1 PM. Continue Reading →

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HCSO Tweet Shows America is Alive and Well

Texas, USA- A little over three hours ago the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tweeted the picture seen here.  Along with regular updates on the status of 911 calls, evacuations, and areas of need, the sheriff’s office is using social media to update the world and the people of Texas on Harris County, Texas.  The picture tweeted came with the reassurance “HCSO deputies are out in the Blackhorse subdivision still working high water rescues. #Harvey”

As the picture was being tweeted, out in California newscasters were tweeting a different type of picture.  They were busy tweeting the “faceless,” masked participates of ANTIFA as they took over a park.  They chanted “This is our park” and attacked several people.   Their hate-filled and fueled propaganda routine continued to blast across the twitter feeds.  Fortunately, those tweets do not represent who we are as Americans.  They do not represent what we do as Americans.   They do not represent how we as Americans act.   There are pictures of African Americans helping Caucasians, of Caucasians helping Hispanics, and so on.  People of all races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, sex and religions are coming together to help with the disaster in Texas. Surrounding states, like Arkansas and others, have governors sending aide and supplies – not because the Texas problem is an Arkansas problem, but because the Texas problem America’s problem.  We are America.  The people going into the flood areas and bringing others out, the people giving blood, the people helping with evacuees across the state, and the service people already on the ground wading through water to carry out children, elderly and others are the true representations of America. Continue Reading →

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State Government is Failing to Help the Needy

Oklahoma-If you have driven the H.E. Bailey Turnpike south from Oklahoma City, you have most likely seen a billboard that reads, “Government takes from the Needy and gives to the Greedy,” a statement that is famously attributed to President Ronald Reagan. The quote is from a speech that Reagan gave before Congress, where he basically discusses how government programs often do not actually serve those truly in need. He believed far too many people abuse the system, benefiting from services they do not need or should be providing for themselves. To this day, we regularly hear this concern from many politicians who argue for cutting spending, citing “waste, fraud and abuse” within government.  While I believe the overwhelming majority of taxpayer dollars are used to support essential and necessary programs, sometimes these fiscal hawks are right. That’s why OICA was proud to support legislation this past session to improve the use of audits for agencies, helping to verify that dollars are truly going to benefit who Ronald Reagan described as “the needy,” rather than being wasted or misappropriated to “the greedy.”

With that being said, we are now facing an entirely different dilemma when it comes to state government: a massive revenue shortfall that is starving state agencies and eroding the quality of our government services. Continue Reading →

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Local Businesswoman Stacy Pursell Is Finalist for Pet Industry Woman of the Year Award

TULSA, Ok- Local businesswoman Stacy Pursell, CEO and President of The VET Recruiter® in Tulsa, OK has been named a finalist in the fifth annual Pet Industry Woman of the Year Award competition. Pursell, who has been in business for 20 years, was nominated in the Corporation category. The other award categories are Solopreneur, Entrepreneur, Advocate and Rising Star. The overall Pet Industry Woman of the Year will be chosen from the winners of these five categories. Winners will be announced Sept. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma Nursing Homes: Save Our Residents from Cuts and Closures

Lawmakers must “keep promise” to protect vulnerable seniors

Oklahoma-With the Supreme Court having struck down a cigarette fee designed to shore up Oklahoma’s underfunded Medicaid program, nursing homes and their residents are now bracing for budget cuts and closures. Early reports indicate that, without the over $200 million in state revenue generated from the fee, the Oklahoma Health Care Authority will be forced to cut the Medicaid reimbursement rate to health care providers. Nico Gomez, the President and CEO of the Oklahoma Association of Health Care Providers, estimates that a funding reduction could put many Oklahoma nursing homes out of business. For Travis Belk, a 90-year-old Medicaid recipient who lives in The Gardens skilled nursing facility in Sapulpa, the funding crisis is hitting close to home. “Our lawmakers told us they created a budget that protects Medicaid and keeps homes like this one open,” said Belk. Continue Reading →

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A Crisis Moment for the State Budget

 

Oklahoma-This week the Oklahoma Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on whether several revenue raising measures, including a cigarette fee, will be deemed constitutional or not.  If the court upholds the constitutionality of these measures, state agencies will regain some semblance of stability through the remainder of the fiscal year (although most are still struggling from years of cuts and under-funding). If the court instead strikes down these measures, agencies could see debilitating double digit reductions to their budgets. Needless to say, should the latter happen, major services will be reduced or eliminated, especially preventative measures helping families and individual Oklahomans better their lives. Even the best-case scenarios would see many programs benefiting Oklahoma’s children suffer greatly. That we find ourselves in this situation is unacceptable. Continue Reading →

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Intellectual Disabilities and Openings in the ICF/IID Programs in Texas

Despite efforts in Texas to move forward with services for people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, the state still lingers far behind most others in the nation.  United Cerebral Palsy conducts surveys on Inclusion of the states, and Texas is always near the bottom.  In 2012, out of 51 states and districts surveyed, Texas ranked number 50 at the bottom of the list.  In 2016, that ranking had not changed and the only state lower than Texas was Mississippi.  While the inclusion survey covers several areas such as employment, housing, services, treatment, etc. of people with developmental or intellectual disabilities, the disheartening fact is that one of the largest, wealthiest states in the union is unable to raise its level of services in a four-year period.  This shows either a lack of concern on the part of the state, a lack of effort, or a combination of both. The state currently operates thirteen “State Supported Living Centers” or SSLCs.  These are the large institutions were once called “State Schools” prior to the reorganization a few years ago.  According to the DADS website, which is currently transitioning into the HHSC website, all thirteen of these facilities have vacancies, or openings to serve people with developmental or intellectual disabilities.  There are currently 376 openings in these facilities according the latest update at the DADS website completed on August 5, 2017. There are 796 facilities in the state of Texas offering Intermediate Care Facilities services for individuals with intellectual disabilities (ICF/IID).  These facilities unlike the SSLCs are usually smaller six or twelve bed styled facilities in the community.  Many are operated privately by organizations or small corporations.  Some are considered non-profit and some are considered for profit. Out of the 796 facilities, 199 of them have openings of one or more vacancies.  There is currently a total of 415 open beds in ICF/IID programs across the state of Texas. Continue Reading →

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New Driver Course to Combat Distracted Driving

Required for drivers 18 and older starting Sept. 1

AUSTIN – The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) today announced a new one-hour driving course to educate drivers on the dangers of distracted driving – called Impact Texas Young Drivers (ITYD). This course will be required for certain drivers beginning Sept. 1, 2017. “Driving is one of the most dangerous things we do on a daily basis, and it should command our undivided attention,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. Continue Reading →

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Protecting Children from School Bullying

Oklahoma-It is almost time for more than 700,000 children in Oklahoma to return to school!  With the return of the school year, anxiety can run high, sometimes leading to some traumatic issues.  One of the most stressful situations children face is how to deal with bullying. The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good suggestions on how to deal with bullying issues. Bullying, or the modern form of cyberbullying, is when one child or more picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school or on a school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or on computers and smart phones. Continue Reading →

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