Recent Articles

Advocacy Training and a Celebration for Students

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) had the pleasure of holding several events last week, all centered on our mission. Even though the Legislature has adjourned, we carried on our plans to hold our annual Advocacy Day, partnering with Let’s Fix This, a grassroots organization that works to get people more involved with sharing their ideas with policymakers.  Our event hosted more than two dozen advocates who were there to learn about how to correspond with legislators and other elected officials.  These advocacy skills are critical, especially in the new world of social media. The attendees all walked away with a better understanding of the process and an ability to more effectively present their ideas and leverage their own expertise with lawmakers. This will not be the last of these training sessions this year, so I encourage you to check out oica.org for upcoming events. OICA also hosted the first of our 35th Anniversary celebrations with a luncheon at the Governor’s Mansion Pavilion. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma, Illinois Students to Link Up with NASA Astronauts on Space Station

WASHINGTON, /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — Students from Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Edwardsville, Illinois, will have the opportunity to talk with astronauts on the International Space Station next week as part of NASA’s Year of Education on Station. The two 20-minute, Earth-to-space calls will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel will answer questions about life aboard the space station, NASA’s deep space exploration plans and conducting science in space during both opportunities. The first event will connect Oklahoma students from several schools in grades 5 through 12 with the two Expedition 55 astronauts at 10:35 a.m. EDT Monday, May 14, from the Tulsa Air and Space Museum & Planetarium. The students submitted essays describing what they would ask an astronaut and how that question relates to their own lives on Earth as part of the selection process. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma Left Unprepared for Medical Cannabis as Legislature Fails to Act

OKLAHOMA CITY – The decision by lawmakers to adjourn early without legislating on medical cannabis has left Oklahoma unprepared for the likely transition to legalization, according to members of New Health Solutions Oklahoma (NHSO), a local trade group representing businesses and investors in the medical cannabis sector. On June 26, Oklahoma voters will have the opportunity to legalize medical cannabis by voting “yes” on State Question 788. Early polling data indicates the measure is likely to pass, with approximately 62 percent of voters saying they support legalizing medical cannabis. Both proponents and opponents of medical cannabis asked the Legislature to proactively create rules and regulations that would support a responsible and safe rollout of a medical cannabis program in the event that SQ 788 passes. Rather than doing that, lawmakers instead chose to end their legislative session early, with many hitting the campaign trail. Continue Reading →

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Legislative Session Concludes, But Criminal Justice Bills Still Await Action

The legislative session for 2018 came to a grinding halt on Thursday, May 3.  The push to adjourn came quickly as many legislators did not want to linger in session following a filing period which saw many of them draw opponents.  In fact, according to the Oklahoman, 794 candidates filed for state and federal offices this year. The previous high in modern electoral history was 594, in 2006. OICA was pleased that many of the bills that we advocated for and placed on our annual report card were passed and signed into law. In fact, of the 20 bills tracked by OICA this year, sixteen become law (as of Monday) and two others passed and are awaiting action by Governor Fallin. Only one bill failed to make it through the Legislature and one other was vetoed. Continue Reading →

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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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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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