While the Legislature remains in a second Extraordinary Session on the Friday before Christmas, OICA has a simple New Year’s Resolution for lawmakers: fix the immediate problems with the state budget and lay out a long-term budget plan for next year’s regular session. That session will begin on the first Monday in February, and we hope legislators arrive with a plan and a commitment to find ways to appropriately fund core government services, especially those that serve children.

OICA will be present at the Capitol and working to deliver results for better laws and policies which help kids.  We are already assisting some legislators with bill drafting ideas.  We welcome your support in this endeavor, so please sign up for our weekly email at oica.org so you can read about the different issues facing our state.  Our email update is sent every Thursday, along with emergency updates sharing breaking policies in which we need you to reach out to your own legislators and ask them to take a specific action.

I am pleased to report that the OK Foster Wishes gift drive was a huge success, thanks to a lot of hard work from OICA staffers and our partners at the Department of Human Services. To our knowledge, every foster child who submitted a wish list for Christmas received their gifts thanks to generous donors.  Special thanks go out to Karen Jacobs and Tisch Gipson of DHS for their hard work, and I especially want to thank Miranda Hines of OICA for taking on this task.  OICA was pleased to step in to help run OK Foster Wishes and we look forward to continuing this role.  Special thanks to Lisa Feist Davis for building up this wonderful program, originally created as a project through LifeChurch. We will be sending a survey to foster parents asking for ideas on how to improve the program for next year, so watch for that if you are a foster parent.

We are also happy to report our very first daily desktop calendar is at print and will be ready for distribution in January.  Since we are an advocacy organization working to shape better policies, our work truly takes shape in February with the kick-off of the legislative session.  Due to this, our calendar runs from the beginning of February to the end of January (and sometimes it is nice to just be different than the norm).  We are very thankful for the many donors who helped fund a day on the calendar and we were pleased to feature a different organization helping make a difference for the children of the state on each page.  The primary focus of each day will be a different child-related statistic showing the positives and negatives which we face in our state.  We want this to be a daily reminder to the lawmakers and executives who have influence over these issues that, every single day, the children of Oklahoma should be a primary focus of their work.  We hope this calendar will prove successful in highlighting children’s issues and we look forward to making 2018 the Year of the Child in Oklahoma thanks to the collaborative effort of all the youth programs driving that initiative.

With that, I want to wish you Happy Holidays, a Merry Christmas and a wonderful and safe New Year! Thank you to those who have read this column and who have gone the extra effort to help support Oklahoma’s children.  We look forward to being your voice in Oklahoma once again to see better days for the kids of our state!

By OICA CEO Joe Dorman