For The Children Weekly Column

Advocates Examine Child Welfare Task Force Report, Set Children’s Agenda for 2024

PHOTO CUTLINE – DISCUSSING THE WORK OF THE CHILD WELFARE TASK FORCE during OICA’s Fall Forum are (from left) Foster Care Association of Oklahoma Director Sarah Herrian, Human Services Director and cabinet secretary Dr. Deb Shropshire (speaking), Oklahoma Health Care Authority Director Ellen Buettner, and state Rep. Mark Lawson. OICA’s Fall Forum was attended by more than 100 child advocates from across Oklahoma during the three-day in-person portion at the State Capitol and Oklahoma Center for Nonprofits in Oklahoma City. (Courtesy Photo)

November 13, 2023



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

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – The 2023 OICA Fall Forum concluded last week, and it was an intense four days of learning and sharing for those attending the conference.

Advocates in attendance shared thoughts about improvements in law and policy to benefit children. They also received an intense day-long advocacy training – our kick-off to the Advocacy Boot Camp. Overall, the response was extraordinarily positive.

On Friday, we were honored to host state agency directors and members of the Child Welfare Task Force. The task force was implemented by Gov. Kevin Stitt to look at policies seeking to reduce the number of children entering foster care. In addition, the task force reviewed systems to help reduce the time children are in the system and improve outcomes so foster children can be reunited with their biological parents.

Many thanks go to Human Services Director and cabinet secretary Dr. Deb Shropshire, Oklahoma Health Care Authority Director Ellen Buettner, Foster Care Association of Oklahoma Director Sarah Herrian, and state Rep. Mark Lawson for presenting and answering questions on the task force report.

At the conference, OICA honored four Oklahomans with our annual fall awards tied in with this event:

The Steven A. Novick Award for Child Advocacy goes to an unsung hero in child advocacy. The honoree is Carolynn Macallister. Carolynn has been the driving force behind several policy efforts during recent legislative sessions, shaping legislation to benefit Oklahoma’s youngest residents.

The Laura Choate Resilience Award goes to a person who has overcome much to help others. This year’s winner is Shelly Lee. Shelly is first and foremost a biological, foster, and adoptive mother. Not only that, Shelly is a full time OKDHS Nurse that advocates and fights for those children in care.

The Jasmine and Melvin Moran “Kidizenship” Award goes to one or more young people who have created programs to benefit other young people, elevated an existing program to new levels, or displayed tremendous citizenship which has influenced others. We had two winners this year.

The first is Ace Morris. Ace has been on the frontlines of fighting hunger as a staple in the Mid-Del Public Schools – Supplemental Feeding Program. His passion is contagious and his competitiveness fuels boxes getting packed quickly. He has been their most outstanding volunteer, packing more boxes than any other, even when facing health issues of his own.

The next winner is Isaiah “Zay” Jarvis of Tulsa. For those who saw his display of citizenship on television, he showed the nation and the world amazing sportsmanship and how to be empathetic to another that was in pain. You can read more about this display at

As we approach the end of the year, Oklahoma Human Services is kicking off their “Holiday Hope” program to fulfill gift wishes for foster youth. OICA participated in this for several years with the OK Foster Wishes program. This year, DHS has asked us to help collect gift cards for foster youth. They have doubled the amount for each child to $150 to meet inflationary costs. Please use the following link to make a donation if you are able: So you are aware we have built in a fee to help cover our processing costs for the cards.

We appreciate anything you can do to help provide a brighter holiday for these young people who are enduring traumatic times.