BY JOE DORMAN
On Monday, I had the great pleasure of assuming the role of Chief Executive Officer for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy [OICA]. I have long respected the work of this organization as a champion for improving the lives of Oklahoma’s youngest generation of citizens – its children. For the past three decades, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy has been dedicated to providing a strong voice for Oklahoma’s future by educating and engaging individuals across our state to help protect our state’s children and ensure that they have the resources and opportunities that will help them thrive.
The important work OICA does beneath the Capitol dome is supported by data about the needs of children and families in every county across our state. Our KIDS COUNT Data Center, part of the national KIDS COUNT network, provides critical information about the wellbeing of our children and youth. Each year, the national KIDS COUNT Data Book ranks Oklahoma in four areas – economic wellbeing, health, education and family/community – and compares us with other states. The rankings are based on a series of key child wellbeing indicators that provide a current snapshot and trends over time.
The 2016 KIDS COUNT Data Book can be found on the Annie E. Casey Foundation’s website: http://www.aecf.org/m/resourcedoc/aecf-the2016kidscountdatabook-2016.pdf. For specific Oklahoma data, check http://oica.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/03/KC-Fact-Sheet-2-2016-1.pdf.
As you well know, Oklahoma has serious child welfare, health and education issues to address. I can think of no greater task in public service than improving the lives of those around us, particularly the youngest and most vulnerable.
Supporting the success of the Pinnacle Plan, the effort to improve our child welfare services and results, is of critical importance at this time with its recent extension beyond the initial five years. OICA is working closely with the Department of Human Services and many state and community partners to improve the treatment and outcomes for young people placed in our state’s care.
Much work remains to be done, but I believe the partnerships that have been created across government, private sector and non-profit organizations will continue moving our state in the proper direction.
For these reasons, I decided to dedicate my full effort toward this endeavor. Working together, with a shared vision and long-term commitment, we can accomplish great things for our state and its young people. Advocacy can be as simple as calling an elected official or writing a letter to the editor of a local newspaper to create awareness for an issue that is near and dear to a person. As with every other aspect of life, the more people we have working toward the same goal, the better the chances for success.
I am honored to begin my new role with the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy and look forward to working with the people and groups in our great state who care about our kids. To join this advocacy effort for Oklahoma’s children and its future, please go to oica.org to learn more about our mission and become a part of our team.
– Joe Dorman is CEO of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy. He served House District 65 as state representative for 12 years and was the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor.