For The Children Weekly Column

The Economy Our Children Deserve

September 26, 2022


“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 – Fall Forum, the annual policy conference for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), will be celebrating its 22nd year of bringing together advocacy organizations for children from across Oklahoma.

This year, we are pleased to have a dialogue about economic conditions impacting Oklahomans. The theme, “The Economy Our Children Deserve,” will allow us to delve into various issues impacting state residents, such as housing, healthcare, childcare, and a myriad of other issues along this thread. 

The purpose of this gathering is two-fold: educate advocates about various issues in children’s policy and to learn about ideas from these delegates so OICA can shape a substantive legislative agenda. Over the years, this conference has formulated significant policies which have improved conditions faced by children and families from all across our state.

Oklahoma Commissioner of Labor Leslie Osborn will deliver the keynote address about labor policies and the work climate facing Oklahoma parents and the impact on their families. Commissioner Osborn is a champion for workforce development and worker’s rights; we look forward to hearing her Oklahoma employment forecast.

Additionally, OICA is excited to have a conversation with Terry Smith and Bob Burke about their new book, Throwaway Kids, which tells the tale of child well-being in Oklahoma. From early statehood and the efforts of Kate Barnard to more recent events such as the “Terry D” lawsuit, the legal action which led to the creation of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, the book reminds us that our work is important.

Joining the authors will be OICA Board Member Laura Choate, the only living plaintiff remaining from this lawsuit; she is featured prominently in the book. You can purchase copies of the book at Fall Forum. After reading this history, you will be committed to ensure we never return to those dark days.

There will also be some lightheartedness as Keith Coast will entertain us with a motivational presentation, and Charlotte Anderson, Oklahoma’s Kid Governor, who will update us on her work the past two years.  We will also receive a briefing from the National Kid Governor® program for 5th grade classes across Oklahoma and what this program can provide for civics education.  On a side note, we are approaching the final week for classes to sign up and participate in the Kid Governor full curriculum, so check out our website on how your local 5th grade classes can participate.

Conference networking will provide tremendous opportunities for attendees to meet with lawmakers and candidates for state and federal office at our candidate reception. This is your chance to visit with candidates and learn more about their positions before the November 8 election.  Additionally, several lawmakers will also be a part of the conference as they will assist in chairing the four breakout sessions which will lead to policy formulation. Each breakout will be co-chaired by lawmakers from different parties working together to help advocates come to reasonable conclusions to take forward to legislators when it is time for them to file their legislation.

My hope is that we see many child advocates attend Fall Forum 2022 on October 11 through 13 in Oklahoma City at the MetroTech Springlake campus! Together, we can move Oklahoma into the right categories for improving conditions for children. Go to to sign up!