With the conclusion of the 2021 legislative session, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy 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 cancelling or going completely virtual with them last year.
The plans for Fall Forum this year is to hold three days virtually and come together on our final day to vote on the concepts we will 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.
We also will be working with lawmakers to provide data they will need for their interim studies. Many fantastic ideas for interim studies were requested prior to the deadline, and we appreciate the willingness of several lawmakers to review ideas that OICA suggested.
We are thrilled to be working the Potts Family Foundation and former state Rep. Laura Boyd on a joint study to look at ways 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. We hope these interim studies can shed light on the problems and drive resources to areas where improvements can be made.
Our annual Heroes Ball will be back in-person July 30, 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.
Joe Dorman is executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.