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OICA Praises Legislators for Creating Trauma-Informed Care Task Force

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman today praised the state Legislature for passing Senate Bill 1517, which creates a task force to make data-driven, results oriented policy recommendations regarding trauma-informed care. Studies show that 45 percent of children in the United States have experienced at least one of the following Adverse Childhood Experiences: economic hardship, parental divorce or separation, parental death, parental incarceration, violence among adults in the home, victim of or witness to neighborhood violence, living with a mentally ill adult, or living with someone who has a substance use problem. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy has worked closely with the Potts Family Foundation and other partners to increase awareness among Oklahoma state legislators about the proven social impact of Adverse Childhood Experiences. An interim study was held at OICA’s request by the Oklahoma House of Representatives last summer that looked at the impact of traumatic experiences and how they can be addressed. Following that study, State Senator A.J. Griffin and House author Rep. Carol Bush filed SB 1517, creating a new task force on trauma-informed care. Continue Reading →

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Health Care Providers Urge Legislature to Use Federal Dollars to Support Services for the Elderly and Persons with Developmental Disabilities  

OKLAHOMA CITY – Health care professionals who care for elderly Oklahomans and individuals with developmental disabilities are asking state lawmakers to take advantage of increased federal funding available in the coming year. Previous reductions in federal funding have led to deep cuts in Medicaid reimbursement rates, contributing to Oklahoma hospital and nursing home closures, reductions in services and long wait-lists for care. A change in the federal funding formula could unlock over $170 million in additional federal funds and could begin reversing those cuts. The funds can be available if the state Legislature directs the Oklahoma Health Care Authority to restore provider rate cuts to help ensure access to health care services for Oklahoma seniors and individuals with disabilities. Nursing homes, in-home care providers and rural hospitals are all heavily reliant on Medicaid for funding. Continue Reading →

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Teacher pay raises aren’t a done deal yet

A veto referendum could delay or reverse the funding mechanism for teacher pay
I am usually not the gloom-and-doom kind of person, but I am worried that Oklahoma is about to sleepwalk into a budget-related nightmare that policy-makers never anticipated. If you are thinking — “we are already living through that nightmare!” — you may have a point. However, our state Constitution leaves us uniquely exposed to political maneuvers that could cripple our budget and possibly even reverse the recently passed teacher and state employee pay raises. Those raises, along with additional funding for education, are sorely needed. The Legislature passed a historic $428.5 million revenue package to fund them, which is a good thing. Continue Reading →

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Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma Rallies for Victims During National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma will join organizations nationally and across the state to raise awareness for victims’ rights and services during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW), beginning April 8. Since 1981, NCVRW is held every April to promote laws, policies, and programs to help victims of crime, as well as educate citizens about victimization and the effect it has on individuals, families, friends and the community. In accordance with this year’s theme, Expand the Circle: Reach All Victims, advocates will encourage support for State Question 794 (SQ 794).  The ballot initiative includes a set of victims’ rights collectively known as “Marsy’s Law.” The state question will be included on the November ballot in Oklahoma and seeks to grant crime victims Constitutional protections equal to the protections afforded to accused criminals. Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma has daily events planned to commemorate the week:

Sunday, April 8

Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma State Director Kim Moyer and crime victim and President of the Oklahoma Homicide Survivors Support Group Lauren Layman will join News9 political analyst Scott Mitchell for a Facebook Live event at 3:15 PM. Watch it on the MitchellTalks Facebook page or on the Marsy’s Law for Oklahoma Facebook Page. Continue Reading →

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School Choice Advocates: After Teacher Raise, What is the Plan to Improve Oklahoma’s Schools?

OKLAHOMA CITY – With teachers poised to receive the largest salary increase in state history, parents and  education reform groups are now asking legislators to focus on improving Oklahoma schools and boosting student outcomes. ChoiceMatters, which works to connect parents with educational resources and options, said the pay raises were needed but would not help students without additional reforms.

“We are grateful the Legislature has acted to give teachers a much-needed pay raise,” said ChoiceMatters Executive Director Robert Ruiz. “However, the important work of improving our schools has not yet begun. Educational outcomes in Oklahoma are getting worse, and many of our children are falling further and further behind. This is particularly true in low-income and minority communities, where disparity in outcomes is growing.”

Latino children in Oklahoma are 3.5 time more likely than white children to attend a school rated “F” on the state’s education report card. Continue Reading →

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Odessa Most Expensive City in Texas To Visit, According to Survey

Texas, March 29, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Odessa, located in the heart of the Permian Basin, is the most expensive destination in Texas based on the cost of its lodging. That’s the main finding of a recent survey conducted by CheapHotels.org. The survey compared 30 cities in the Lone Star State, using as its basis of comparison the average rate for each one’s cheapest available double room (minimum: 3-star hotel) during the month of April 2018. April also happens to be the month during which most Texan cities reach their highest average hotel rates. To stay in Odessa, travelers will have to spend an average of $186 per night. Continue Reading →

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OICA Coordinating Outreach for Programs to Support Kids During Teacher Walkout

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is working with community leaders from across the state to compile a list of organizations which will provide child care and nutrition programs during the upcoming planned education walkout in April. OICA CEO Joe Dorman said that the organization was working to ensure children do not fall through the cracks while the state tackles its education and teacher pay issues. “While teachers and other personnel are continuing the discussion regarding potential salary increases, we want to make certain the children of the state are not forgotten,” said Dorman. “This is an important time for finding a solution on a much-needed pay raise for educators and other support staff, but we cannot forget those young Oklahomans who rely on a safe place to be during the school week.”

Organizations that are offering services to children and families can contact OICA at info@oica.org in order to have their information listed by community.  Once uploaded, Oklahomans will be given options listed at www.oica.org on where their children can be taken during the day for child care and food services while parents/guardians are at work. “We are encouraging any program which can offer support to help during this time,” said Dorman.  “We are certain many churches, nonprofits and other organizations will offer their help, so we are happy to operate as the point of contact to help distribute this information by community.”

Dorman said an example is the Regional Food Bank of Oklahoma, which is preparing and distributing family boxes of food to impacted families. Continue Reading →

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Education and Parent Advocates Disappointed as Legislature Fails to Support Tax Credit Scholarships

OKLAHOMA CITY – Lawmakers failed to advance legislation this week that would have helped children in low-income families and children with special needs receive scholarship assistance. House Bill 3537 and Senate Bill 1384, which proposed to increase the cap by $10 million on tax credit scholarships authorized by the Oklahoma Equal Opportunity Scholarship Act, both stalled in committee. Since 2011, hundreds of students have utilized tax credit scholarships to find a school that is right for them.  Whether it’s joining a school that can help nurture a child with special needs, enrolling in a school that emphasizes a faith-based curriculum, or escaping an environment made dangerous by bullying, tax credit scholarships have given families with limited means the ability to provide the best education available for their children. The popularity and success of this program has been so great that it reached its annual cap of $3.5 million and most recently used the capacity of the public school’s Education Improvement Granting Organizations (EIGO). Continue Reading →

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Aspiring Americans Scholarship Application Released

Undocumented and DACA-Eligible Students Encouraged to Apply
Oklahoma City, OK, February 15, 2018– Aspiring Americans has announced the beginning of the application process for the Aspiring Americans Scholarship 2018, a scholarship benefitting students displaying high academic achievement who do not qualify for federal financial aid. Luis Hidalgo program director of Aspiring Americans said this morning: “The Aspiring Americans Scholarship is a yearly effort to reward those students in the community who despite all obstacles, have chosen to continue their education demonstrating commitment and strong moral character.” Over the last 3 years, Aspiring Americans has been able to award tens of thousands of dollars to students across Oklahoma thanks to generous donations from community members, businesses, and universities.  The application process will be open from February 15, 2018 to March 15, 2018 through the Communities Foundation of Oklahoma (CFO) scholarship portal at: www.cfok.org. Aspiring Americans is a program of Scissortail Community Development Corporation as part of its mission of economic and social development in Oklahoma. The Aspiring Americans mission is to help undocumented students and families in Oklahoma pursue the highest education possible and facilitate their successful enrollment in colleges and universities across the state. Continue Reading →

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Pawhuska Nursing Home Closes Due to Underfunding

PAWHUSKA, OK – Pawhuska Nursing Home LLC has informed its 20 residents that it is closing. The facility opened in 1956 and, with over 30 employees, is one of Pawhuska’s larger employers. Like most of Oklahoma’s nursing homes, which rely heavily on Medicaid funding, the Pawhuska facility has been hit hard by budget cuts. Since 2010, Oklahoma nursing homes have lost over $93 million in state and federal appropriations, leaving many of them on the brink of insolvency and closure. Pawhuska Nursing Home Owner Justin McGrew said that he and his staff are working with residents to find them alternative accommodations. Continue Reading →

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