Joe Dorman

Recent Articles

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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Preventing Toxic Stress in Children

Stress is an issue that impacts everyone.  Regardless of your age, your income level or where you live, stress affects the health and well-being of every single person on this planet. Children oftentimes are the most susceptible to stress.  Parents or caregivers will attest to hearing at some point from a child that some experience is the most traumatic event to ever happen to them.  Adults often feel the incident is overblown, but in the context of a child’s short life and limited experiences, that situation might indeed be the most traumatizing event in his or her young life. Each child is different and has their own level of tolerance for stress.  Through the science of studying Adverse Childhood Experiences, researchers have been able to classify stress at three different stages: positive, tolerable and toxic. Positive stress can actually be a good thing.  According to research by Harvard University, “this a normal and essential part of healthy development, characterized by brief increases in heart rate and mild elevations in hormone levels. Some situations that might trigger a positive stress response are the first day with a new caregiver or receiving an injected immunization.”

Tolerable stress is not considered good for the body, but it is also not something classified as life-threatening in the long term. Continue Reading →

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Be a Surrogate Santa: Support OK Foster Wishes

There are some projects that are so fun or rewarding that they just do not seem much like work.  One of those is an exciting new endeavor the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is taking on that will help spread some holiday cheer!  We were recently asked to help OK Foster Wishes and the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS) lead a gift drive that will ultimately deliver holiday presents to approximately 6,000 children in foster care. OK Foster Wishes has worked closely with DHS for years to assemble “wish lists” that foster kids and parents pass on to their caseworkers. OK Foster Wishes then matches those wish lists to Oklahomans who volunteer to buy a present on those lists, or to make a monetary donation that covers the costs. DHS then works to deliver those toys to the right children and families. This year, OICA is playing a lead role in raising toys and cash, and we are asking the public to help in one of two ways:
1.         Individuals interested in making a monetary contribution can donate online at okfosterwishes.org or by calling (405) 236-5437. Continue Reading →

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Children’s Health Services Jeopardized by State and Federal Political Gridlock

Oklahoma- At the time of writing this column, our state elected officials are still at an impasse regarding a budget agreement and a resolution to the ongoing Special Session called by Governor Mary Fallin. OICA has been active in calling for Republicans and Democrats to work together to address the $215 million budget hole created after the courts struck down an unconstitutional cigarette fee. The $215 million reduction – which balloons to over $500M when federal matching funds are included — will either be spread across state government or, if no legislative action is taken, be shouldered exclusively by three agencies that oversee health care and social service programs. Neither scenario should be acceptable to voters or to our lawmakers. Several options for closing the budget hole have been discussed, including a (constitutional) $1.50 per pack cigarette tax hike, an increase in income taxes for high earners, and an increase in the gasoline tax. Other ideas presented have dealt with taxing “luxury” services, like tattooing and lawn care.  The increase in the gross production tax has been something discussed by the public, but has gained little traction inside the Capitol among the Republican supermajority.  Meanwhile, OICA has called upon our elected officials to reinstate at least a portion of the Earned Income Tax Credit which assists families struggling to make ends meet as a form of tax relief. Continue Reading →

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OICA Accepting Nominations for Laura Choate Resilience Award

Oklahoma-The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is now accepting nominations online for the Laura Choate Resilience Award. The award was created to celebrate individuals who have overcome significant childhood adversity to make a lasting contribution to the lives of young people. Nominees have exhibited bravery and demonstrated a dedication to fostering resilience in Oklahoma children. The public can submit nominations through OICA.org until September 29 at 5 PM. This award is named for Laura Choate, who served as a plaintiff in a class-action lawsuit that helped to uncover and reform widespread abuse and neglect within the state’s  juvenile justice system. Continue Reading →

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State Government is Failing to Help the Needy

Oklahoma-If you have driven the H.E. Bailey Turnpike south from Oklahoma City, you have most likely seen a billboard that reads, “Government takes from the Needy and gives to the Greedy,” a statement that is famously attributed to President Ronald Reagan. The quote is from a speech that Reagan gave before Congress, where he basically discusses how government programs often do not actually serve those truly in need. He believed far too many people abuse the system, benefiting from services they do not need or should be providing for themselves. To this day, we regularly hear this concern from many politicians who argue for cutting spending, citing “waste, fraud and abuse” within government.  While I believe the overwhelming majority of taxpayer dollars are used to support essential and necessary programs, sometimes these fiscal hawks are right. That’s why OICA was proud to support legislation this past session to improve the use of audits for agencies, helping to verify that dollars are truly going to benefit who Ronald Reagan described as “the needy,” rather than being wasted or misappropriated to “the greedy.”

With that being said, we are now facing an entirely different dilemma when it comes to state government: a massive revenue shortfall that is starving state agencies and eroding the quality of our government services. Continue Reading →

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Protecting Children from School Bullying

Oklahoma-It is almost time for more than 700,000 children in Oklahoma to return to school!  With the return of the school year, anxiety can run high, sometimes leading to some traumatic issues.  One of the most stressful situations children face is how to deal with bullying. The American Academy of Pediatrics has some good suggestions on how to deal with bullying issues. Bullying, or the modern form of cyberbullying, is when one child or more picks on another child repeatedly. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. It can happen at school or on a school bus, in the neighborhood, over the Internet, or on computers and smart phones. Continue Reading →

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For the Children:    Honoring the Real Superheroes

Oklahoma-As we prepare for our upcoming banquet, it is my privilege to recognize the folks who the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will honor the evening of August 10th at our Heroes Ball!  We announced the winners just this past weekend, but I would like to go into further details about why each one of these individuals and organizations are “heroes” for Oklahoma kids. Our first honorees, receiving the SONIC Commitment Award, are Pastor Craig Groeschel and his wife Amy Groeschel of Life.Church. Craig and Amy are being recognized for their work to encourage Oklahomans to become foster or adoptive parents. Largely because of their efforts and the strong message they sent to their congregation, Oklahoma met its goal of recruiting more than 1,000 foster families last year. Our next honorees will receive the Steven A. Novick Award for Dedication.  If you have not heard of him, Steven was the attorney who won a landmark lawsuit which uncovered significant shortcomings within Oklahoma’s child welfare system, ultimately leading to major reforms and the creation of OICA.  The recipients this year are the television stations KFOR, KTUL and KSWO, each one of which devoted significant air time to the AdoptOkKids program that helps children in foster care find adoptive families. Continue Reading →

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OICA Announces Award Winners to be Recognized at Aug. 10 Heroes Ball  

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy’s (OICA) has announced the winners of three awards that will be presented at the OICA Heroes Ball on August 10 at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. Each award winner was chosen by the OICA Board of Directors for their outstanding contribution to children’s well-being in Oklahoma. The winners of the Kate Barnard Perseverance Award are Jasmine and Melvin Moran, the creators of the Jasmine Moran Childen’s Museum in Seminole, Oklahoma. Their museum has inspired and educated countless children since its opening in 1993. The award is named after Oklahoma’s first female elected official, who worked to end child labor and the mistreatment of Native children. Continue Reading →

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Youth Programs Can Lead to Future Careers

 

Oklahoma-I had the great pleasure last week of visiting a summer youth program at Bridgestone Intermediate School in western Oklahoma City.  This group of about thirty students in the 5th and 6th grade was a joy to meet with, and many of them were already expressing an interest in politics. They asked me to share my story with them: how I became a state legislator, a gubernatorial candidate and now the director of OICA. As I related that story, I realized that many of my lifelong passions developed when I was only slightly older than them. My interest in politics really started in earnest when I served as a page for Senator Ray Giles as a high school student.  From that experience, I knew I wanted to dedicate myself to a career path of helping shape policy and working in the best interest of my fellow Oklahomans. I had this experience thanks to a 4-H award which I won my junior year.  I had joined 4-H when I was the same age as the Bridgestone students I met last week, and I experienced many wonderful leadership development opportunities which not only took me outside the town limits of Rush Springs, but all across the United States. Continue Reading →

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