For The Children Weekly Column

Successful Fall Forum Sets the Stage for 2023 Legislature

October 17, 2022


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

Telephone: (405) 833-1117


OKLAHOMA CITY – Over this past week, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) held our 22nd annual Fall Forum. This conference seeks to bring together leaders in various fields of serving youth to allow them to network, share their expertise, and learn from others as OICA shapes a legislative agenda for the upcoming session.

Over the week, the conversation stuck to the theme “The Economy our Children Deserve” and focused on policies and issues impacting the economic well-being of Oklahomans. To this, we were very pleased to have Labor Commissioner Leslie Osborn deliver a fiery talk about ways to improve conditions for those in the workforce. Commissioner Osborn was blunt with her suggestions and provided inspiration to those in attendance.

One of her suggestions highlighted improving access to educational opportunities, such as the endeavor sought in the next Oklahoma City school bond which would provide for bringing back shop classes to each high school in their district. By improving this “hands on” element in the classroom, the hope is to inspire students to enter fields tied through career technology programs. It was also mentioned that issues considered by policymakers, such as a living wage and access to quality childcare, are critical.

Throughout the conference, we were pleased several lawmakers attended and participated. The agenda provided for them to have the opportunity to present about recent interim studies looking at critical children’s issues. I want to thank Reps. Mark Lawson, Jacob Rosecrants, Daniel Pae, John Waldron and Brian Hill, along with Sen. John Michael Montgomery for providing insight.

We also had policy sessions to brainstorm about problems and solutions for issues. Each of these four breakouts were led by lawmakers, including Sens. Jo Anna Dossett, Jessica Garvin, Carri Hicks, Julia Kirt, and Dave Rader, along with Reps. Anthony Moore, Brian Hill, Andy Fugate, Marcus McEntire and Logan Phillips. The topics in these breakout sessions ranged from tax policy to health and Medicaid, to overall child well-being. The suggestions provided by advocates were not only heard by these lawmakers but suspect many ideas will be brought forth into legislation.

For those who also keep up with who these lawmakers are, we were able to assemble some of the best lawmakers at the state capitol who work on issues for children from both parties. Thank you to them for taking time out of their busy schedules to help us. We also were pleased to have other lawmakers and candidates stop by the conference, including Reps. Danny Sterling and Tammy Townley, who are both working on youth policies.

We had dozens of experts also present on policies, so we want to thank each of them for their discussions and sharing their expertise.

It was not all work, as we were thrilled to have Kid Governor® Charlotte Anderson deliver an address to the attendees about her work over the past two years. The opportunities which Charlotte has been able to undertake have brought great exposure to her work to increase voting rights and improve youth health.

We even had a comedy show put on by Keith Coast to lighten the mood and improve the morale of those advocates after discussing such heavy topics. Keith is my nephew and an entertainer who has performed around the world, so it was definitely a proud uncle moment.

I would rate this year’s Fall Forum as a great success! Thank you to all of those who made it possible, and we look forward to seeing folks at our Legislative Learning Lab, our spring conference held in February to prepare advocates for how to promote policy at the State Capitol.