The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is in the process of compiling and publishing a report card on the actions of the Oklahoma Legislature as it pertains to childhood well-being.  Our report card delves into policies dealing with foster care issues, criminal justice reform and improvements within systems of government aimed at boosting the state’s child welfare rankings.  OICA reviewed more than 20 bills, with 19 of those being signed into law by Governor Fallin.  We will have those results available at oica.org by June 1 for your consideration.
 

We also tracked two additional bills that will not be on the scorecard as they did not advance far enough in the Legislature to receive a final vote.

 

One of those is House Bill 2858, which sought to facilitate adoptions for children in protective custody. HB 2858 would have required a parent of a child who had been taken into protective custody by DHS to be notified that they can voluntarily place the child up for adoption with a licensed child-placing agency.  We appreciate Reps. Tammy West and Mark Lawson for authoring this in the Oklahoma House, along with Senator Adam Pugh carrying the bill in the State Senate. 

 

The other bill, authored by Rep. Jason Dunnington, was House Bill 3146, would have re-established the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC) in Oklahoma.  We are thankful that Rep. Dunnington assisted in the multiple efforts to have this included within budget agreements.  OICA will continue to work on this tax policy which provides significant relief to working class Oklahomans who could greatly benefit from this credit.

 

In addition to our report card, OICA is in the process of contacting Oklahoma’s legislative and executive branch candidates for state government to ascertain where they stand on policies that benefit the children of Oklahoma.  OICA and multiple other children’s programs have worked to designate 2018 as the Year of the Child in Oklahoma.  This is an effort to increase awareness of Oklahoma’s subpar rankings for child wellbeing and to enlist the help of our lawmakers. We are asking three simple questions and allowing each candidate a 250-word limit on each question.  The questions are:

 
  1. What ideas will you pursue to better the lives of Oklahoma’s children? For example, what laws or policies will you champion, what programs will you attempt to expand or decrease, and what area of interest regarding children will you establish yourself as a leader amongst your colleagues.
 
  1. What have you done to support children prior to this election? For example, discuss policies which you have had a direct impact in seeing implemented, what volunteer work have you personally done to improve the lives of children, or have you had a job which you have worked with kids?
 
  1. What will you do to support families in your new role, if elected? For example, would you support ideas such as restoration of the Earned Income Tax Credit, fiscal policy revisions for child-related programs, criminal justice reform, and/or list enhancements for quality of life improvements for families?
 
We will publish the results of the survey in mid-June prior to the Primary elections on June 26 so you will have the opportunity to review answers.  We also encourage you, if you are not registered to vote, to register before the June 1 deadline (go to
ok.gov/elections or click here to download a registration application).  Please make sure your voice is heard in the upcoming elections, and vote for candidates who will improve the state for children!