Just one week to go before Election Day!  I am sure most Oklahomans are ready for this campaign cycle to end and see what the future holds for Oklahoma. 
 
As a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is prohibited from endorsing any candidate or party. Although I am from a political background myself, I have come to greatly appreciate our non-partisan role, as I believe it makes our organization a more effective force for improving the lives of children. No matter which party is in power, or who is running for office, OICA is able to shine a light on the issues that matter most to children.
 
One way we have impacted the 2018 elections is through our candidate surveys, which you can find at OICA.org. From the top of the ticket on down, we heard from dozens of candidates who shared their vision for helping families and children. Those interested in reading the surveys submitted from Gubernatorial candidates Drew Edmondson (D), Chris Powell (L) and Kevin Stitt (R), can do so at http://oica.org/legislation/candidate-questionnaire/candidate-questionnaire-results/governor/ (along with the surveys of many other candidates and office-holders).     
 
Another exciting foray into election season for OICA was our first ever candidate debate, produced by News9, featuring the 2018 candidates for lieutenant governor. The debate was filmed during OICA’s 2018 Fall Forum, and can be viewed in its entirety on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/NEWS9/videos/1938400172917741/. Our thanks go out to Matt Pinnell (R) and Anastasia Pittman (D) for attending our forum and sharing their plans for children with voters.
 
Speaking of the 2018 Fall Forum, it was a huge success and an inspiring event. We had more than 100 delegates attend the two-day function which highlighted various challenges facing Oklahoma children as well as potential policy solutions.  We also were honored to have Whitney Tucker of NC Child, OICA’s North Carolina counterpart, speak on the 2020 Census and the work needed to prepare for an actual count of all those who should be recorded by the Census.  The attendees had the opportunity to participate in multiple workshops and breakout sessions to focus on critical policies.  The work produced in these small sessions will ultimately help to guide OICA’s legislative agenda, which we will release later this year.  
 
Lastly, we recognized four young Oklahomans at the conference with the Moran Kidizenship Award.  This recognition was established to honor young Oklahomans doing great work for their child peers.  This year, the winners were Samantha Lively, Caitlin Coffey, Elizabeth Fry and Kennedy Denton.  We will share more information soon about the work done by each of these ladies.
 
I want to close out this week by asking for your help.  OICA has an upcoming deadline, and we need input.  This year, we published our first daily desktop calendar.  This highlights a different child-related statistic impacting the youth of Oklahoma, along with recognizing special occasions.  Donors help sponsor each page, and on each is listed a different youth program providing great work to help kids in our state.  We have a detailed list, but we would love your assistance to make sure we have a comprehensive listing of programs available, whether it be statewide or local.  Please email info@oica.org with a youth program which you feel should be recognized in our calendar and provide information, such as the program or organization’s website, that will let us learn more about them and highlight their good work.

Lieutenant governor candidates Anastasia Pittman (D) and Matt Pinnell (R) with OICA CEO Joe Dorman