In 2018, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will celebrate its 35th Anniversary.  Our mission, “Creating awareness, taking action and supporting policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children” is a role we take very seriously each and every day. We consider our advocacy to be a 24/7, all-year job: our work at the Capitol continues before, during and after the legislative session.

This certainly includes the current special session, where lawmakers are grappling with the task of producing a balanced budget that adequately funds children’s services. OICA and our grassroots network are actively communicating to legislators the importance of filling the current budget hole, a $200M shortfall created when a cigarette fee was ruled unconstitutional. Beyond that, however, we are encouraging them to look at other new revenue raising measures that would allow us to shore up core services in the future, rather than simply addressing today’s crisis.


If the Legislature fails to act, the consequences will be awful. There are over 800,000 young Oklahomans that stand to be impacted if state leaders cannot find a way to support the health, public safety and education services which our children rely on.


In addition to our work at the Capitol, OICA is also expanding our reach as an advocacy network throughout the state. Our organization is looking at ways to create more awareness of the challenges children face in the state and to increase the visibility of programs that help children overcome those challenges. This week, we are kicking off a campaign to print an advocacy calendar which will highlight a different daily statistic or raise awareness about an existing program doing its part to help Oklahoma children achieve their highest potential.  We are asking individuals or organizations to sponsor a day focusing on a different statistic or a youth program for each day of the year.  For more information on how you can sponsor a day, go to
https://oica.nationbuilder.com/calendar.

We are also working with several other organizations to highlight the many needs of children in our state by helping to designate 2018 as the “Year of the Child” in Oklahoma. This will also be the theme of our annual conference on November 2
nd at the State Capitol.  Registration information can be found at oica.org

Another exciting announcement this week is that OICA will begin a partnership to support a very important task over the upcoming holiday season.  OK Foster Wishes is a program that has been serving the mission to provide a gift for every foster child in the state for Christmas. OICA will be stepping in to help this program achieve their goal throughout the state for counties which participate or do not have their own similar program.  Folks wishing to help can either make a monetary donation at
http://oica.org/okfosterwishes/ or, beginning in mid-November, they can download a list of requested gifts from a child in foster care and drop off these items at one of our selected partner locations across the state.  The Oklahoma Department of Human Services is currently compiling the wish-lists and will release them to us in the coming weeks, so we will keep you posted.

As you can see, we are continuing to build on our successful 35-year history of child advocacy at OICA!  Thank you for helping us with our mission to take action to improve well-being for the children of Oklahoma!
 

Joe Dorman, OICA CEO

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