What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?
I have spent my career focused on areas that could better the lives of Oklahoma children. This has ranged from educational programs, after school programs, mental health care, and community outreach. What has been evident to me is that we have to invest in public education in order to ensure every child has the opportunities for success. When children have access to quality education as well as outreach and after school programming, the are prepared for a better future. I would support policies that increased our funding for education.
I would also be an advocate for policies that protect children from harmful situations (HB 2259) as well as ensure their rights if placed in custody (HB 2552). I would support family reunification when possible. Similarly, I am supporter of criminal justice reform, especially with the impact that our current policies have on families. As a state that incarcerates more people than anywhere, we are continuously separating families.
Finally, I am a proponent of programs and non-profit groups that aim to improve the lives of children through their mission. Legislation like SB 1081 would assist agencies in providing more programming through grants. This could increase the quality and availability of needed services.
What have you done to support children prior to this election?
Throughout my career I have worked in the non-profit and mental health care field serving children and families. During my time at Oklahoma Family Counseling Services, the Center for Children and Families, Girl Scouts of Western Oklahoma, and Bridges of Norman, I’ve seen first-hand what services are truly needed and the impact they have on the lives of everyday Oklahomans. I have spent time working with families struggling to escape the cycle of poverty and drugs to leading a Girl Scout troop at the Oklahoma Juvenile Center for Girls, so I know that cuts to education and mental health care impact the entire community.
Aside from my career, I have served on the young professionals boards of Sunbeam Family Services and Oklahoma Lawyers for Children. Both agencies strive to improve the lives of children and families.
What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?
As an elected official, I would continue to advocate for families just as I have in my career. This is one of the areas that I am most passionate about and would continue to fight if elected into the state legislature. I would support policy that creates revenue for education and core services to be fully funded. I would be in support of restoring the GPT as a revenue measure to restore funding.
I would also support criminal justice reform through treatment and work programs that would allow families to stay together rather than be divided by incarceration. By expanding treatment programs and services (counseling, parenting classes, etc.), we would be able to strengthen families. I have witnessed first hand the benefits of providing services. I’ve had the privilege of working with children and families from all walks of life across the state of Oklahoma and that is experience that I would take with me to the capitol.