Oklahoma

Recent Articles

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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The Drexel Fund Awards $400,000 Grant to Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School

Oklahoma- Cristo Rey Oklahoma City Catholic High School today announced it is the recipient of a $400,000 grant from The Drexel Fund to support the school’s start-up and operating costs. The Drexel Fund is a national venture philanthropy fund that invests and partners in the growth of high-quality, financially sustainable faith-based networks and other private schools to create transformational outcomes for all students and families. Cristo Rey OKC is a private, college-preparatory Catholic school that will open its doors to its first class of incoming freshmen in Fall of 2018. The school is part of the national Cristo Rey network known for its unique educational model exclusively serving children in low-income families. All schools focus on a combination of rigorous academics and “real world” work experience.  100 percent of Cristo Rey students receive financial aid as part of a corporate work-study program, funded by local businesses, where students work one day a week at the partner company for the entire year. 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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Four States News Expands Social Media Reach

The Four States News (FSN) is proud to announce we have added additional Facebook Groups online. The FSN is a “Community Journalism site.”  We focus on events in communities such as church happenings, school events, and other issues often not covered by mainstream media.  We are not looking to cover the latest wreck or the latest Congressional issues.  Instead of a broad focus, we might focus on a Congressional leader who visits the four states area, or we might focus on the impact someone had on others who happened to pass away from injuries of a wreck.  We want stories based on what’s important to you and your community.  Anyone can write that a great citizen passed away at a certain age and left behind a list of relatives, but we want to know and share how that great citizen changed his family, his or her friends, and touched the lives of those she may have known.  Community Journalism is driven by two factors – contributors or people taking time to write something and submit it, and the community’s desire to know more, understand what’s happening on a deeper or more “hometown” level. We also recognize that we can not possibly cover all the stories.  In our area we have several outstanding, online publications.  You may have seen Texarkana Today or Jeff Easterling’s outstanding Texarkana FYI  .   You have also likely seen the long-standing, now-online also publication for the Texarkana Gazette .   It also seems like new publications are popping up daily like the new  ArkLaTex Post. Because we focus not just on Texarkana, but on the surrounding area of the four states, we thought it was time to allow those areas to have a reference point for articles directly related to them and to share articles.  These new groups will allow people to easily share post from any news outlet with links back to the original publication.  Together we can share news not only published from FSN, but also from any major or minor publication touching on important events or happenings. Currently we have Four States News Community Post  our first set up to allow sharing of news from around the Texas and Arkansas.  We have just added Oklahoma Four States News Community Post  and Louisiana Four States News Community Post. Continue Reading →

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Oklahoma Ranks 36th in National Ranking of Child Well-Being

State makes modest gains and policy improvements during a difficult legislative session

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma falls below the national average in several areas of child well-being, placing the state at 36th in the nation, according to the 2017 KIDS COUNT® Data Book released today by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. Despite seeing modest improvements, advocates say the state needs to do more. Download the complete Oklahoma rankings here. “A ranking of 36th place out of 50 is not good enough for our children and not good enough for Oklahoma,” said Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) CEO Joe Dorman. “Our mediocre outcomes reflect mediocre investments made in the services that children rely on, like public education and health. Continue Reading →

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OICA Accepting Nominations for “People’s Choice” Award for Child Advocates

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will be accepting nominations through June 23 for the 2017 “People’s Choice Award” for an individual or organization that has made a significant and positive impact on behalf of child wellbeing in Oklahoma. Nominations can be submitted online at the following URL: https://hero-oica.nationbuilder.com/nominate. After the nominations are collected, Oklahomans will have a chance to vote online for the final winner. The award will be presented at the OICA Heroes Ball, to be held on August 10th at the Skirvin Hotel in Oklahoma City. OICA CEO Joe Dorman encouraged Oklahomans to nominate exceptional individuals, companies or groups. Continue Reading →

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Educational Opportunities and Scholarships Expanded for Foster Care and Low Income Children

Oklahoma – With the 2017 legislative session having come to a close, groups working to increase educational options for Oklahoma students are celebrating significant policy victories. Robert Ruiz, President of ChoiceMatters for Kids, says that despite a difficult budget year marked by partisan gridlock, legislators managed to work together on two key bills that will increase resources for the education of low income children and children in state custody. Ruiz said that over 1000 parents worked with ChoiceMatters for Kids to send over 15,000 emails, letters or phone calls to the State Capitol on behalf of those bills and other school choice policies. Senate Bill 301 expands the successful Lindsey Nicole Henry (LNH) Scholarship program. Currently, LNH scholarships are available to children with special needs, helping their families to cover the cost of private school tuition. Continue Reading →

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For the Children:   Lessons to Live By

I had the pleasure of delivering two graduation speeches this year to high school students embarking on the next stage of their lives.  I remember as a graduate how anxious I was for that next stage.  I am confident students today feel the same, and I am equally certain our state elected officials share that attitude after finalizing this year’s legislative session.  In fact, the content of my speech could probably apply just as much to Oklahoma’s politicians as it does to its high school graduates. I used three quotes as the foundation for my remarks to recent grads.  The first, pulled from comic book fanfare, is the basis of what drives one character to keep fighting against tremendous odds and constant obstacles.  Ben Parker imparted upon his nephew that “with great power comes great responsibility” (a comic book update to the Biblical lesson “to whom much is given, much is required”).  Those words go to the core of what keeps Spider-man going even through the toughest of times.  He has a responsibility to use his powers to better the world.  With graduates, they now have the responsibility to be an active part of society as adults, pay their taxes, and go to the polls and vote. This effort will make their neighborhoods, their communities, their state and their nation better. Our legislators have the power of the vote at the capitol. Continue Reading →

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For the Children: Free Comic Book Day Helps to Boost Reading and Literacy

 

Oklahoma – I am taking a week off from discussing the Oklahoma Legislature and politics to share some important news: May 6 is Free Comic Book Day in the United States! As a collector of comics, I am excited about this day for obvious reasons. But as the CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, I am excited about the way in which it can be used to jump-start our children’s interest in reading, their imaginations, and ultimately their literacy levels. If you were not aware before, you are now: I collect comic books. When I was running for governor in 2014, my staff was actually afraid it might cost me votes. Continue Reading →

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