June 28, 2021
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – “For the Children” Weekly Column
Contact: Joe Dorman, CEO – Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
Telephone: (405) 833-1117
For the Children: A Weekly Column by Joe Dorman, CEO – OICA
Summer Months Will Be Busy for Child Advocacy
With the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) moves into the preparatory work for 2022. Many of our major projects occur over the next few months and we are excited about these prospects after canceling or going completely virtual with them last year.
First up with our activities is providing a “report card” on the votes taken by lawmakers. OICA is pleased with so many positive scores this year for overall voting and authorship of important concepts to improve the lives of children. We are especially thankful for those state lawmakers who worked with us prior to the filing deadline to shape ideas coming from our 2020 Fall Forum, held completely virtually last year.
The plans for Fall Forum this year will be to hold three days virtually and come together on our final day, a Saturday, to vote on the concepts which will be put forth to lawmakers, and then enjoy the rest of the afternoon at our annual chili cook-off where lawmakers and organizations compete for the best chili, which is judged by members of the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Judicial Branch. Please watch for this event, which registration will be open soon, to be held in late October.
Another action which we take on is working with lawmakers to provide data they will need for their interim studies. An “interim study” is an officially requested review of a topic of concern for one or more lawmakers, and they can occur in an individual legislative body or jointly in both at the state level. Many fantastic ideas were requested prior to the deadline last week, and we certainly appreciate the willingness of several lawmakers to review ideas that OICA suggested on behalf of those who submitted concepts to us.
We are especially thrilled to be working with the Potts Family Foundation and former state Rep. Laura Boyd on a joint study to look at upcoming budgets as a way to encourage preventative measures through funding to improve our child well-being ranking. Thanks to Reps. Mark Lawson, Emily Virgin, and Kevin Wallace, along with Sens. Kay Floyd and Roger Thompson for working on this with us!
According to the recently revealed annual report for KIDS COUNT, Oklahoma remains in the lowest tier with 42 out of 51 surveyed states and the District of Columbia. These rankings review pre-pandemic categories of economic well-being, family and community context, educational levels, and overall health. OICA certainly hopes these interim studies can shed light on the problems and drive resources to areas where improvements can be made. Public/private partnerships between the government and nonprofits, businesses, and even churches can make a tremendous difference toward better opportunities.
Rounding out our major projects is our annual Heroes Ball on July 30. This was also held on Zoom last year and thanks to a sponsorship and partnership with Postmates, OICA won a national competition for virtual events. We will be back in person this year, but we are “upping the stakes” by holding a simulcast event in Oklahoma City and Tulsa, along with broadcasting online for those who do not feel comfortable yet in gatherings. For more details, go to oica.org to learn about the event or sign up for tickets. We have some amazing speakers and honorees, so we hope you can attend and help us fund the work that we do year-round.