Joe Dorman

Recent Articles

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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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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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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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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