For The Children Weekly Column

Child Advocacy Award Winners Named; Supreme Court Weighs in on ICWA

June 19, 2023

“For the Children” Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, OICA CEO


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

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a 7-2 ruling affirming as constitutional the Indian Child Welfare Act. This ruling validates what data shows for preserving stability for children undergoing adoption or within foster care.

Keeping children who are enduring the most traumatic experience of their young lives in as stable a situation as possible is critical to help with their healing. It has been shown that placing children with family members and preserving positive cultural experiences helps lessen their anxiety. The fact that conservatives and liberals alike on the Supreme Court recognized the importance of preserving cultural identity helps place the Indian Child Welfare Act on solid ground.

In state legislative news, the deadline for submitting ideas to lawmakers for interim legislative studies is closing soon. The Oklahoma House of Representatives deadline for representatives to request an interim study is June 30, while senators have until June 21 to make a request.

If you have a great idea for such a study, please submit it at for us to suggest to lawmakers. The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is working on several suggestions, so we hope this interim will provide opportunities for positive solutions in the 2024 session.

Speaking of positive solutions, I am happy to announce the OICA Board of Directors has finalized the list of honorees for our 2023 Heroes Ball. Each year, OICA recognizes the work done by Oklahomans in several distinct categories.

Our Kate Barnard Lifetime Achievement Award winner this year will be the Potts Family. Pat and Ray Potts have dedicated their lives to improving the lives of Oklahoma’s children, and their own children have followed suit. The Potts Family Foundation focuses work on the 0-3 age group by trying to move our state’s rankings in child well-being categories to 25th by 2025.

The Jay Scott Brown Individual Advocate Award will be presented to Jabee Williams, an Oklahoma City musician who has worked to improve conditions for school-aged youth, especially those who come from the northeast part of the city. His work has elevated the conversation of conditions faced in his community and his activism has provided a voice to rally others to act.

The OICA Organizational Advocate of the year is The Cherokee Nation. Through the work of the largest sovereign nation in the United States, advances in health care and educational opportunities have been provided to the residents located in their northeastern Oklahoma region, along with their members across the nation. The donations to organizations throughout Oklahoma also provided tremendous support through the tough times faced during the pandemic.

OICA also presents two awards to former officials who have continued working for children. The Democratic public servant award, named after former state Rep. Laura Boyd, will be presented to former First Lady Donna Nigh for work of the Donna Nigh Foundation to provide adaptive equipment allowing Oklahomans with developmental disabilities to push their boundaries and gain independence.

The Henry Bellmon Public Servant Award, named in honor of Oklahoma’s 18th and 23rd Governor, will be presented to former First Lady Cathy Keating, who serves on multiple boards, including the Annie Oakley Society with the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, which recent completed Liichokoshkomo, a new educational outdoor experience on the museum grounds for children.

We are also taking nominations for our Anne Roberts People’s Choice Award for individuals and organizations. For mor information, go to and we hope you will join us to help honor these tremendous Oklahomans at the 7th annual Heroes Ball on Saturday, July 29th at the Cowboy.  You can find ticket information on our website.