Joe Dorman

Recent Articles

‘Tis the Season to Give to Foster Children

With Thanksgiving behind us, ‘tis the season for holiday decorations, non-stop Christmas music on the radio, and a lot of hard work for the public employees, OICA staff and volunteers working to get holiday presents for the roughly 8,000 Oklahoma children in foster care. That effort begins with caseworkers at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), who collect holiday wish lists from each foster child. Next, those wish lists are matched with partner organizations like OK Foster Wishes, the gift drive run by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) that works to fulfill these wish-lists with the help of generous donors. We are proud to say that OK Foster Wishes is the largest gift-drive for foster children in the state, fulfilling more than half of the Oklahoma foster children’s wish lists. OICA and DHS operate the OK Foster Wishes warehouse (a space being generously lent to us, free of charge, by Hobby Lobby) where gifts are stored, sorted and eventually sent out to children. Continue Reading →

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Children of Military Families Need Additional Support

Veterans Day is a wonderful and necessary holiday and a great time to give thanks to those that serve our nation. However, as we move on from this day, it is important to keep the needs of our veterans and active military personnel – as well as their families and children – on our minds all year. According to the US Census, there are 21,369,602 veterans in the United States, with 312,492 veterans currently living in Oklahoma.  That does not include the 1.3 million military personnel and more than 800,000 reserve forces serving nationwide, or the roughly 20,000 service members now living in Oklahoma. In the modern military, families experience increased stress from multiple deployments and longer tours of duty. Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, the United States has seen the largest sustained deployment of military servicemen and servicewomen in the history of the all-volunteer force. Continue Reading →

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Shining a Light on Children’s Issues Ahead of Election Day

Just one week to go before Election Day!  I am sure most Oklahomans are ready for this campaign cycle to end and see what the future holds for Oklahoma. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is prohibited from endorsing any candidate or party. Although I am from a political background myself, I have come to greatly appreciate our non-partisan role, as I believe it makes our organization a more effective force for improving the lives of children. No matter which party is in power, or who is running for office, OICA is able to shine a light on the issues that matter most to children. One way we have impacted the 2018 elections is through our candidate surveys, which you can find at OICA.org. Continue Reading →

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Three Key Interim Studies Focus on Children’s Issues

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) has had the opportunity over the past few months to work with state lawmakers on various issues covered in legislative interim studies.  If you are not familiar with these, state senators and representatives can request from the presiding officer of their respective chambers the opportunity to delve into a topic about an issue of importance.  Prior to the deadline for the filing period, we reached out to several lawmakers to request topics which would focus on important issues for Oklahoma children and families. The first study in which we played a part was the Oklahoma Senate study reviewing the topic of Adverse Childhood Experiences and Trauma-Informed Care.  This was a follow-up study to the one held last year in the House of Representatives by Rep. Pat Ownbey, R-Ardmore.  Senator AJ Griffin filed this study prior to her departure from the Legislature, and we were pleased to continue that work with Sen. Kay Floyd, D-Oklahoma City and Sen. Greg McCortney, R-Ada.  The study assembled some of the best and brightest minds in Oklahoma regarding this topic and the seven lawmakers who were present asked very relevant questions.  I am certain this effort will lead to great work by the Trauma-Informed Care Task Force authored by Sen. Griffin and Rep. Carol Bush, R-Tulsa in Senate Bill 1517 this past session.  In fact, there will be follow-up legislation to expand the membership and scope of the study to include greater regional representation for a statewide presence. The next study in which OICA participated was one requested by Senator Allison Ikley-Freeman, D-Tulsa, which reviewed school suspension policy in Oklahoma.  The assembled presenters discussed the issues impacting students who face either in-school or out-of-school suspension in our state.  There has been legislation the past two years to modify how suspensions are treated for students who commit assault on a teacher or another student. Violence in the classroom is an extremely serious issue and something that absolutely must be dealt with. However, OICA continues to encourage policymakers not to simply back new laws that increase punishments for children who act out. Continue Reading →

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Grandparents Play a Key Role in Raising Children

For many youngsters, grandparents play a significant role in raising us and molding us into the people we become.  I often think about my extended family and how lucky I was to have so many people in my life who cared about me and helped me grow and develop.  Many Oklahoma children, unfortunately, are not as fortunate as I was; they do not have an older generation of family members in their lives who can teach and assist them in their formative years. While it is a well-documented fact that many children are lacking positive adult role models, the state is inadvertently exacerbating that situation, especially when it comes to grandparents. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court discussed parents’ fundamental rights to raise and rear their own children. It should be noted though, the Troxel case refused to strike down a Washington state law granting substantial grandparent visitation. Due to this, the Troxel case left states with varying degrees of grandparent visitation throughout the nation. Continue Reading →

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History Proves Children Can Change the World

As we at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) work to help reform and improve public policy, one of the most frustrating things we hear is the mistaken assumption that children cannot or should not try to change the world. Young people, some say, should “wait their turn” to speak out on social issues or take on a community leadership role. While I agree that life experience is important, I would contend that passion, a willingness to learn, the and the ability to think with an open mind are equally as important. Often, these qualities are easier to find in children than adults, who can be closed-minded or unwilling to consider new information. I would also argue that some young people, even in their few years on this Earth, have had tremendous experiences that make them the most effective champions we need for positive change. Continue Reading →

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Remember the Children in Upcoming Elections

A historic number of Oklahomans voted in the 2018 Oklahoma primary elections. Regardless of your party affiliation or political beliefs, it was great to see an active and engaged citizenry getting out and voting. For the majority of elected positions, the primary elections determined who each party’s nominee will be for the November 6 general election. In races where candidates did not break the 50 percent threshold, however, there will now be a run-off election between the two top vote-getters on August 28, just a few weeks away. At that time we will see seven runoffs for the statewide ballot on the Republican ticket, a runoff for the Gubernatorial election for the Libertarian Party, a race for the Democratic ticket with Oklahoma Corporation Commission, state and federal legislative races and many county positions. Continue Reading →

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Reducing Childhood Trauma May Impact Addiction, Incarceration Rates

With the upcoming task force formed by Senate Bill 1517, I am confident Oklahoma has taken a major step forward in overcoming the high rate of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) that impacts our residents. For those of you not familiar with ACEs, this is the study of childhood trauma and the associated health-related conditions which follow into adulthood.  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, childhood experiences, both positive and negative, have a tremendous impact on future violence victimization and perpetration as well as lifelong health and opportunity. As such, early experiences are an important public health issue. In Oklahoma, they are particularly relevant, as multiple research organizations have consistently ranked our state as having one of the highest rates of ACEs in the nation. The study which discovered the links to childhood trauma and adult health was the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study, one of the largest investigations of childhood abuse and neglect and later-life health and well-being. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma Health Department Restores Contracts for Child Abuse Prevention

It has not been a good year for the Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH), as the agency has been rocked by the discovery of widespread financial mismanagement and neglect, followed by the resignation of several agency leaders.  As was widely reported, tens of millions of dollars were shifted from federal grants to state programs, a clear conflict with potential legal concerns.  Even more frustrating, the redirection appears to have been unnecessary; it was later discovered that other agency accounts held enough state dollars to cover costs without the improper use of federal funds. Bringing this agency into compliance and restoring accountability will likely be a priority for all lawmakers and will require a significant investment to modernize the agency’s accounting system, which is apparently hopelessly outdated and ineffective. While that is certainly necessary, it is important not to let other key priorities fall by the wayside, especially projects that support children and families or that fund preventative measures that protect families from hardship or tragedy. Since the turnover in administration, I am pleased that interim Director Tom Bates, former special advisor to Governor Fallin on DHS issues, has helped “right the ship” with many agency directives and restored a clear focus to their mission. For instance, OSDH has said they will restore $2 million dollars in funding for the Office of Child Abuse Prevention (OCAP) for State Fiscal Year (SFY) 2019. Continue Reading →

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OICA Candidate Surveys Are Now Available Online

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is pleased to be a key partner in “2018: Oklahoma Year of the Child,” an effort to encourage interest in children’s issues with candidates for office.  OICA compiled a list of what we felt were the top twenty positive bills from this past legislative session so voters can see who supported child-friendly potential laws.  We have also undertaken the task of reaching out to candidates to ask them three simple questions.  The full results, including candidate surveys, will be uploaded by Wednesday, June 20 to oica.org under the legislative tab (or directly at http://oica.org/legislation/candidate-questionnaire/candidate-questionnaire-results/). The survey questions are:

What ideas/policies will you pursue to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children? For example, what laws or policies will you champion, what programs will you attempt to expand or decrease, and what area of interest regarding children will you establish yourself as a leader amongst your colleagues. What have you done to support children prior to this election? For example, discuss policies which you have had a direct impact in seeing implemented, what volunteer work have you personally done to improve the lives of children, or have you had a job which has worked with kids. Continue Reading →

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