Last week’s “Child Advocacy 360: Creating an outdoor voice for children” conference was wildly successful, and you are to thank! We could not have been more pleased to see so many supportive advocates eager to be voices for Oklahoma’s children.
This year’s event was a partnership with Oklahoma City University and featured two very important and timely topics: early childhood development and bullying prevention. November 4th marked the release of the latest Annie E. Casey KIDS COUNT Policy Brief, “The First Eight Years: Giving kids a foundation for lifetime success,” which focused on policy recommendations aimed at supporting early childhood development. This is a topic that is important to the Institute and will be an area the OICA continues to support in the coming months and years, as we strive to nurture partnerships and collaborations geared toward strengthening early childhood efforts in our state.
As in years past, the Child Advocacy 360 conference kicked off with insightful explanations of issues effecting kids from
the children’s panel. From their comments, it is clear to see the effects of poverty, lack of access to mental health and substance abuse services, continued reform within child welfare services and the impacts associated with Adverse Childhood Experiences continue to be problems plaguing Oklahoma’s children and families. Such issues will continue to be cornerstones of the advocacy work being done at the OICA as we approach the legislative session.
The day also featured a legislative panel which outlined the need for policies related to the support and improvement of family support programs. Topics touched on included: the ongoing challenges associated with the reform of child welfare services and changes needed to aid in better transitioning children out of the foster care system; the protection of students attending public schools by providing storm shelters; implementing best practices to support at-risk families and children; and the importance of the role of child advocates in helping to inform policymakers.
The second day of the conference featured a full day of discussions about civility in our society and the prevention of bullying. This is a topic relevant to child advocates across the state. With so many recent media stories detailing the far-reaching impacts of bullying on children and families, it is time we begin to examine ways we can further shield our youth.
We are currently in the process of reviewing all of the survey data and input forms completed at last week’s meeting. We truly appreciate your input and will keep it in mind as the Institute formulates its children’s agenda for the upcoming legislative session. Once the agenda is finalized, we will be sure to send that information to you. Thank you for your continued support of the OICA and of Oklahoma’s children and families.