Oklahoma

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A Brighter Future for Every Oklahoma Child

In January of 1978, the Terry D. v. Rader lawsuit was filed in Federal Court in Oklahoma City. The suit alleged abusive practices, unconstitutional use of isolation and restraints, the absence of adequately trained staff, and the mixing of offenders with non-offenders in state run shelters. Following the lawsuit, several public institutions were closed, and the Department of Human Services (DHS) implemented a variety of community-based programs for children and youth, including both residential and non-residential services. Two entities were also formed to improve the conditions for children in Oklahoma:  The Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY) and the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). The mission of the OCCY is to improve services for children by facilitating joint planning and coordination among public and private agencies; independently monitoring the children and youth service system for compliance with established responsibilities; and entering into agreements to test models and demonstration programs for effective services. Continue Reading →

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Youth Justice Leadership Institute Seeking Applicants

OKLAHOMA CITY – A national partner of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is now accepting applications for the Youth Justice Leadership Institute. The Institute is organized by the National Juvenile Justice Network (NJNN), and offers fellowships to advocates or organizers who focus on juvenile justice system practices and policies. The fellowships are geared towards individuals of color working as professionals in the juvenile justice field, who may also be young adults who are system survivors themselves, or family members of someone in the system.  Each year, 10 fellows from across the country are selected to develop their leadership and advocacy skills in the context of a robust curriculum around youth justice reform. The fellowship is completed concurrently with fellows’ current employment, so fellows do not have to leave their jobs to participate in the Institute. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma Parent Group Asks Legislators to Stand with President Trump on School Choice

Legislators Expected to Vote on Key School Choice Legislation This Week

OKLAHOMA CITY — In last night’s address to the United States Congress, President Donald Trump spoke strongly in favor of school choice, advocating for policies that allow families to choose the public, private, or charter school of their choice.  
 The Oklahoma group ChoiceMatters for Kids, a parent-led organization advocating for greater educational options for parents and children, is encouraging Oklahoma legislators to follow the president’s lead on school choice legislation.  “Donald Trump won a super majority of votes in Oklahoma by advocating for policies that empower individuals and families,” said ChoiceMatters for Kids President Robert Ruiz. “The most important choice a family can make on behalf of their child is how and where to educate their child. On education, President Trump is getting it right. Continue Reading →

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For the Children – Oklahoma’s Budget Crisis Requires New Revenue

In the last several weeks, a lot of eyes have been focused on Oklahoma’s $900 million budget shortfall and the effect it may have on our state. We have heard a lot of talk about revolving funds, off-the-top spending, structural imbalances and dozens of other terms capitol insiders use to describe the current budget crunch. All of that sounds complicated, but if you break down its major components, the state budget is not unlike the personal budgets that families manage. Simply put, you need your income to be greater than your expenses. If it isn’t, you are in trouble. 
I like to think of the state’s total revenue as the income that someone might receive from two jobs. Continue Reading →

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Bill Increasing Food Security Passes in Oklahoma House of Representatives

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) applauded the Oklahoma House of Representatives today for passing legislation to address food insecurity issues in the state. House Bill 1875 passed Tuesday with no opposition on a vote of 95 to 0. House Bill 1875 by state Reps. Eric Proctor and Jason Dunnington permits school districts to donate unused or unopened food to an on-campus nonprofit organization through an authorized representative or designee who is directly affiliated with the school as a teacher, counselor or PTA member. The food may be received, stored and redistributed at the school at any time, and school employees may assist in preparing and distributing the food as volunteers for the nonprofit organization. Continue Reading →

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Helping Children Through Mentorship

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy takes the role of championing causes for kids very seriously.  OICA has worked at the state capitol and around Oklahoma for 34 years to see better opportunities, primarily for at-risk kids.  While we will never shirk that mission, when I took over the role of leading the organization, I committed that we would do more to help all kids. This would include an additional effort to prepare the future leaders of our state and nation. OICA is working to develop new leadership programs for students from various cultures and backgrounds that do not already have some type of association. We intend to provide needed skills to these emerging leaders and help prepare them for the day when they will be active in government, their communities or the business sector. We are developing these different leadership entities and hope to see them become a reality by next summer with proper funding and programming support. Continue Reading →

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Foster Care Reform and Improvement Bill Advances

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) today thanked lawmakers for advancing a bill to help better serve children and parents within the state’s foster care system. Senate Bill 727, by Sen. AJ Griffin (R-Guthrie) would:

Ensure a more collaborative process between parents and DHS and more actively engage parents around decisions involving child placement. Strengthen long-term accountability at DHS by requiring yearly public reports be submitted regarding the foster care system, child welfare staff workloads and other key metrics. Increase support and resources for foster parents and strengthen the Foster Parents Bill of Rights. The bill was heard today in the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services, where lawmakers voted unanimously (11-0) to advance the bill. Continue Reading →

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OICA Praises Sen. Griffin for Legislation Addressing Social Problems

OKLAHOMA CITY — Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) CEO Joe Dorman today thanked State Senator AJ Griffin for introducing a measure that would enhance partnerships between the Department of Human Services and the state’s non-profit and private sectors. The bill aims at tackling problems associated with poverty, incarceration and mental health outcomes.  
 Senate Bill 748 implements a “pay for success” model that has already been adopted in other states. Under that model, private companies would raise capital to design and fund new programs. Non-profits like OICA aid in the implementation of these new programs before state government, after evaluating their success, can then agree to fund them.  “Everyone wants to support programs that successfully reduce incarceration rates, reduce poverty and deliver better mental health outcomes,” said Dorman. Continue Reading →

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For the Children – Is Your Glass Half-Full?

I try to be a “glass half-full” kind of person, but there are times when parts of your world can wear you down.  We all experience this to some extent, but it is how you deal with these situations that determines the outcome and impact on your own life and those around you. Far too many children in Oklahoma experience negative circumstances which can change the course of their entire lives. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy asked Dr. Jennifer Hays-Grudo serve as the keynote speaker on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACES) for our annual KIDS COUNT Conference.  Dr. Hays-Grudo discussed the results of studies across the United States with children 17 and under and the trauma associated with their childhood.  Not surprisingly, of the categories tested, Oklahoma ranked at the top with the highest percentage of children experiencing childhood trauma that followed them into adulthood. You can view slides from her presentation at www.oica.org/conference for more details. We face a generational cycle of trauma which simply will not be fixed overnight.  Our 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book showed slight improvement from recently collected statistics, so we must not backtrack.  There is far more work needed to continue solutions within the Oklahoma State Capitol and the various agencies, as well as neighborhoods and communities. Continue Reading →

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The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book

As we approach the 2017 legislative session, many Oklahomans are concerned about which direction the state will move.  The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) released the 2016 KIDS COUNT data book last week showing areas of progress and slippage for kids.  This publication, found at oica.org for your review, provides statistical analysis of 16 key factors relating to children’s well-being in our state and the nation.  The good news is Oklahoma moved up two spots to 37th in the nation compared to our last review from the 2014 publication. 
From Annie E. Casey Foundation’s (AECF) website – KIDS COUNT is a project of the Annie E. Casey Foundation to track the well-being of children in the United States. By providing high-quality data and trend analysis through its KIDS COUNT Data Center, the Foundation seeks to enrich local, state and national discussions concerning ways to secure better futures for all children — and to raise the visibility of children’s issues through a nonpartisan, evidence-based lens. In addition to including data from the most trusted national resources, the KIDS COUNT Data Center draws from more than 50 KIDS COUNT state organizations that provide state and local data, as well publications providing insights into trends affecting child and family well-being. Through its National KIDS COUNT Project, the Foundation develops and distributes reports on important well-being issues. Much of the data from these nationally recognized publications, including the KIDS COUNT Data Book, are featured on the KIDS COUNT Data Center. Continue Reading →

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