For The Children Weekly Column

Advocacy Boot Camp Planned for Enhanced Child Advocacy



Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – Children will often call for a “do-over” when involved in a game on the playground. Similarly, golfers might take a “mulligan” to attempt a shot a second time when the first went awry. In life, you do not get many opportunities to change the past.

For the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), our mulligan will be to renew one of our major past programs which fell by the wayside, and we are lucky to have a chance to do so.

From 1994 to 2010, OICA ran an advocacy/leadership program which, over several months, drew advocates together to learn from experts in various fields on how to handle specific child well-being topics, and then how to translate that into action for solutions.

The KIDS COUNT Leaders, as they were known then, would go through the program, and the graduation would involve designing a locally based advocacy effort to better the lives of children central to the graduate. We have long wanted to find a way to bring this effort back, but timing and resources were just not there.

With a very generous donation from the Potts Family Foundation in Oklahoma City, we have the seed funding needed to start this back up and grow it even beyond what it was before. As part of the grant, OICA will also contract with Anne Roberts, our longest serving executive director, to develop the six-course curriculum designed to motivate and activate advocates.

In what we will call the Advocacy Boot Camp (ABC), we hope to not only connect developing leaders with each other to learn, but also provide a group for them to compare, contrast, and take action.

The first meeting for the class will serve as an orientation, followed by attendance at both of our annual conferences – Fall Forum held in November and the Legislative Learning Lab held in February. The curriculum will include two destination trips around the state so advocates can see how things might work in other areas often unfamiliar to them, with at least one trip to a rural area.

The thought is to have conversations with leaders from various aspects of working in child well-being, ranging from pediatricians, child welfare workers, ICWA (Indian child welfare) leaders, and educators. By developing an understanding of what each field is experiencing, we hope this will bring a greater knowledge to share throughs with policymakers for how to improves systems of care.

All of this will begin in mid-2024, so there is still plenty of time to plan to participate. We hope to have a beginning class of thirty participants, and applications will be on the OICA website once we ensure the resources are in place to complete the program.

Before that, you can attend a one-day condensed version of the Advocacy Boot Camp. The OICA Fall Forum will include in one of our days a full component of training offered by Anne and other advocacy leaders.

To sign up for Fall Forum, happening virtually on November 3, and then at the Oklahoma State Capitol on November 8-10, go to; registration and attendance is only $75 for attendees.  We hope to see you there!