The holiday season has arrived, and OICA is preparing a “wish list” for lawmakers in advance of the next legislative session. Our 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda is driven by the work that occurred at this year’s Fall Forum, and will be submitted to legislators (and available online at OICA.org) by the end of this week. To give you a sneak peek, our agenda will focus on four primary areas: education and early childhood development; at-risk youth policies; responsible criminal justice reforms; and physical and behavioral health. Our agenda includes specific suggestions and legislative or policy actions that we believe can move the needle in each of these categories. While most of our agenda focuses on state-level policies, we are also asking Oklahoma’s U.S. Congressional Delegation to continue to engage on one federal issue which we believe could have a major impact in Oklahoma and nationwide. Currently, day care is not considered a qualified 529 plan expense (a 529 plan is a privately funded education savings investment account that comes with tax benefits, similar to a 401K retirement plan). Continue Reading →
It was an honor and a privilege to speak to a group of concerned Garfield County residents last week about the United State Census and the impact this 2020 count will likely have on our state. The good news for Garfield County is it was one of the better performing communities across the state, with a 2010 census response rate of approximately 73 percent. That compares favorably to Oklahoma’s overall response rate of 68 percent, and just below the national rate of 74 percent. Based on the latest census estimates (for the 2013-2017 period), 3,786,725 people lived in 1,468,971 households in Oklahoma, and 109,526 people lived in group quarters, for a total population of 3,896,251. Finding those people and verifying those population estimates, however, will be challenging. Roughly one-third of Oklahoma’s population lives in “hard-to-count neighborhoods” with traditionally low response rates to census questionnaires. The Urban Institute, a Washington, DC-based thinktank, estimates that as many as 37,600 Oklahoma residents may be undercounted in 2020 without a coordinated effort to generate a better response rate. That number is important, because it directly correlates with the amount of federal funding Oklahoma will receive in the immediate future. Luckily, doing your part and filling out a census questionnaire is easier than ever. Continue Reading →
There are almost 8000 children in Oklahoma’s foster care system. Most of those are kids under 12 years old, and many of them also have brothers and sisters in the system. Needless to say, it is important for the state to recruit and retain foster parents so that all these children have loving and safe homes.Foster parents are performing one of the most important, selfless acts that we can ask of our fellow Oklahomans. If you are a foster parent and are reading this, thank you for your service and the compassion you are demonstrating. If you are a foster parent, you also know that opening your home to a foster child can create serious strains on your family budget. Continue Reading →
One of the pleasures of getting to work with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is meeting people who are so inspired to help young Oklahomans that they dedicate a significant portion of their time, money and livelihood to this great cause. Last week, I highlighted great work being done by adults on behalf of children. This week, I am pleased to dedicate this column space to honoring Oklahomans under the age of eighteen who have done remarkable work to help their peers: other youth. These young Oklahomans have been honored with OICA’s Melvin and Jasmine Moran Kidizenship Award, presented annually to children under 18 who have elevated a service-oriented program to new heights. The recognition includes a trophy and a donation to them or their program. Continue Reading →
If you did not make it to the 2019 Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) Fall Forum last week, then you missed quite an event! We had more than 150 advocates from across the state assembled to participate in workshops, discuss potential new legislation with state lawmakers in attendance, and share ideas for improving conditions for the youth of Oklahoma. I have many people to thank for the tremendous work that was completed during the three-day event, and that starts with the OICA staff who made the conference happen. Our conference director was unable to attend due to an illness with a family member, and I would ask that you keep her family in your thoughts and prayers as they undergo medical treatments. The rest of the staff and our intern stepped up their game and saw everything through to completion, for which I am immensely grateful. Continue Reading →
We are less than a week from the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s (OICA) annual Fall Forum. This conference gathers the best and brightest minds engaged in child wellbeing to discuss public policy and find solutions to problems facing the youth of our state. The event will be held on October 1-2, with an optional day on October 3 to teach advocates about the interim study process and to explore how the Oklahoma nonprofit world can assist with ensuring an accurate count in the 2020 Census. The interim study conversation will be presided over by State Sen. Paul Scott and State Rep. Mark Lawson, whose leadership at this forum we greatly appreciate.
I am often asked how people can get more involved in making a difference to their community. They can start by coming to this conference!I am pleased that we will have several lawmakers attending our conference to help guide delegates as we shape policy for the 2020 legislative session. Our six agenda-item breakout sessions will be:1. Criminal Justice Reform, chaired by Reps. Chris Kannady and Collin Walke;2. Continue Reading →
Most of us have seen signs that say, “buckle up, it’s the law.” Given that seatbelts dramatically increase your chances of walking away from a car accident, it certainly should be the law. Unfortunately, if you are a 9-year-old riding in the back seat of a car in Oklahoma, it isn’t. In fact, Oklahoma is the only state in the country where a child ages 8 to 17 can legally ride without a seatbelt.
This glaring omission in state policy is the subject of an interim study led by State Senator Carri Hicks. In 2017, 83 Oklahoma kids aged 8-17 were seriously injured or killed while unrestrained in car accidents. Experts estimate about half of those deaths or injuries could have been prevented if the children were buckled up. Continue Reading →
New study shows the impact of the Clorox® Total 360® System on environmental cleanliness
BROKEN ARROW, Okla., Sept. 4, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — A new study, released today by Broken Arrow Public Schools and CloroxPro, has shown the positive impact of daily disinfection in a school environment by using the Clorox® Total 360®System. After implementing the system daily throughout the 2018-19 school year, environmental swabbing of surfaces disinfected with the Clorox® Total 360® System showed a reduction in bacteria to near zero, including on hard-to-clean surfaces like door handles. Proper disinfection of high-touch surfaces is key to protecting against illness outbreaks that can result in a high level of absenteeism, interrupting student education. Bacteria and viruses that cause infectious illnesses, including colds and the flu, can survive on surfaces for days. Continue Reading →
Every ten years, the United States Census Bureau takes a headcount of our national population. This census is mandated by the U.S. Constitution and is used to determine everything from the number of congressional seats awarded to each state to the amount of federal dollars states get for roads and bridges, education, public health and other initiatives. The 2010 Census reported that the population of the U.S. grew to 309 million, an increase of about 10 percent from the 2000 Census. That number will continue to rise, although we will not know by how much until the results of the 2020 Census are released. Oklahoma is expected to top 4 million in this next count.
Oklahoma experienced a severe undercount in 2010. The Census Bureau reported that only 75 percent of households in Oklahoma responded by mail. An in-person follow-up by Census workers helped to reach some people who do did not respond by mail, but many Oklahomans remained uncounted. Continue Reading →
OKLAHOMA CITY – Approximately 80,000 Oklahomans are age 60 or older, and it can be scary to identify options if you or a loved one starts finding it difficult to live at home alone. Care Providers Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services are partnering for a one day event, “The Journey to Senior Care: A Community Awareness Event.”
Open to the public, this event will increase awareness about navigating the journey to senior care. Topics include eligibility criteria for ADvantage, the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services waiver program, as well as State Plan Personal Care and Long-Term Care options. Numerous community-based resources for the aging will also be shared with attendees. “It’s never too early to start planning what you or your family will do as you get older,” said Justin Brown, DHS director. “This event will not only help those who are looking to meet current needs, but also for those who seek more information about the options available to meet future needs related to aging.”
The event will be held Saturday, September 21, from 10:00 a.m. to noon at the Oklahoma History Center located at 800 Nazih Zuhdi Drive in Oklahoma City. Continue Reading →