Mary Boren

What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children? 

Oklahoma’s children would have better lives when power shifts from a few billionaires to voters. When this happens our revenue streams will be restored and the programs and services we’ve enacted over the last 25 years could be fully funded. These include child health care, child care, early childhood education, child abuse prevention initiatives, disability services, foster care reimbursements, and fully funded public school classrooms. We need Oklahoma leaders to stop the partisan bickering and start listening to Oklahomans. To stop the bickering, I will use my experience in helping parents resolve conflict in order to co-parent by de-escalating the fighting among legislative leadership.

What have you done to support children prior to this election? 

After graduating law school in 1992, I participated in the Voices for Children Tour that culminated into the Oklahoma Lawyers for Children. I’ve been a volunteer for OLFC since its inception. In 1996, I was a OICA Kids Count Leader and participated in numerous Child Advocacy trainings. I also worked with the Success by Six initiative to get early childhood goals enacted in 2003. 

My law practice from 1996-2009 was focused on helping children in foster care and children whose families were experiencing divorce. I served as a Guardian Ad Litem and also helped children obtain a Guardian Ad Litem when necessary.
 
In 2009 I became a certified school counselor and assisted more than 600 students each day obtain the extra support they needed. Unfortunately, my efforts were limited because of the failed leadership at the state capital. I struggled to find affordable dental, medical, and therapeutic care when needed. 
 
Most recently, I worked for the Center for Children and Families and helped connect children and adults have access to mental health care to recover from the 2013 storms.

 

What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected? 

To support families as a State Senator, I will continuously and relentlessly insist that leaders account for the impact their laws and policies have on the lives of Oklahoma’s children. I will use the Kids Count Data to remind them of the most urgent problems facing our children. The poverty rates. The incarceration rates. The childhood death rates. The foster care rates. The child abuse report rates. All of these percentages and indicators must be front and center of every decision. As a State Senator, I will insist that our tax policy and economic policy and energy policy and criminal justice policy and transportation policy and education policy are changed to improve the lives of Oklahoma children.

 

Becki Maldonado

What ideas do you have to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children?

As a teacher, fully funding education is on the top of my priority list. This includes reducing the class sizes to no more than 25 students per class, ensuring each school has a fully funded library with a full time media specialist, and teachers get the resources they need to give their students the experiences they need to be successful.

My second priority is attending to the mental health needs of the children in Oklahoma. Each school should have at least one therapist to work with children. More behavioral schools, like Positive Changes in Oklahoma City, to meet the needs of children who are in need of extra mental health attention. I also think that it is important to make the mental health services in Oklahoma easier to navigate for parents, who are seeking help for their children.

My third priority is creating more access and opportunity for the children who have developmental and physical needs. I look forward to working with parents to see how we can help improve the lives of these children both in school and out of school.

What have you done to support children prior to this election?

I am a secondary English teacher at Emerson Alternative HS. I work with students on a daily basis, who do not fit into the traditional education system. Many of these students are pregnant or have young children of their own. Some students are a part of the judicial system. Instead of being sent to prison for the crimes they have committed, they have a stayed sentence and part of their probation is completing high school. Other students do not have family and are in DHS custody or live in group home.

We work on basic life skills, parenting skills, and figuring out which form of higher education (community college, traditional college, vocational school) is best for them based on the goals they set for themselves. The librarian and I created a teen and tots reading program that teaches the teen parents how to read to their young children. I have also started working with my students to help them become published authors. Most recently, one of my students will have her book review published in “Oklahoma English Journal.”

The one of my most important goals is to help me students visualize themselves as being productive contributing members of society to help them break the cycle of poverty in their own lives.

I have also participated in the Child Advocacy Day at the Capitol.

What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected?

I have seen a lot of families destroyed by having one, if not both parents, incarcerated. For non-violent criminals, I would like to see programs put in place to help restore connections with their families, whether that be a parenting classes, finance classes, mental health therapy, addiction programs. We need programs to treat the issues going on in people’s lives and not just punish them.

If I am elected, I am also looking forward to being on the Wait List Caucus, which deals with getting the services families need for their developmentally disabled children. Right now the wait list to get waivers for services is 12 years. This is unacceptable. Also when these children turn 21, they lose a number of needed benefits through SoonerCare. At a recent meeting, a parent also brought up the need for better dental reform through SoonerCare. There are a number of areas that can be improved for our developmentally disabled children and families.

I am open to looking at any policies that affect the well-being of families in Oklahoma.