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 →
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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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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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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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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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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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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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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On Saturday, January 21, more than five million women gathered in various locations around the world at over 670 planned marches. The intent was to show the new leaders elected in our government that women of all ages are a strong force, and issues of importance – equality, health care, race, issues with disabilities, and sexual assault – are topics that need more positive attention through policy. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy also works in partnership to address these challenges for our youngest residents. The rally which I attended in Oklahoma City was a gathering of men and women from different parts of the state. Those assembled were very happy with the turnout, estimated by the Oklahoma Highway Patrol at between 12,000 to 14,000 participants. There are different types of events meant to inspire change, ranging from marches, to protests, to riots. Marches are intended to be peaceful demonstrations to promote a cause. Protests are gatherings to encourage action, but usually with an anger associated with that effort. Riots are full-scale outbreaks of criminal activity which lead to arrests and upheaval. A good contrast to Oklahoma City’s peaceful, constructive rally would be the riots that occurred in Washington, D.C. surrounding President Donald Trump’s inauguration. Those riots led to more than 230 arrests, property damage and persons injured. The very next day, thankfully, more than 500,000 people marched in the same city with not a single arrest. The riots were counterproductive and destructive; the peaceful rallies and protests are continuing to spark a productive dialogue. Continue Reading →
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The state of Oklahoma is facing a $900 million budget shortfall, and legislators have stated that “everything is on the table” when it comes to closing the gap and balancing the budget. While I am hopeful that “everything” includes reasonable revenue raising measures and a hard look at corporate tax credits and tax breaks, I also know this will require some spending cuts. That means there will be no shortage of agencies or organizations explaining why their mission should not be on the chopping block. You can count on the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy to champion for adequate funding for children’s health care, the foster care system, and poverty prevention measures. If we do not invest in our children, our future looks bleak, and a tough budget year is no excuse for neglecting our state’s vulnerable youngsters. Continue Reading →