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Don’t Forget to Vote in the Primary Runoff Tuesday

OKChildren

Oklahoma Has Strong System of Voting Convenience and Security

For those of you who are registered voters, please do not forget that Tuesday, August 25, is the Primary Runoff Election Day. In total, 50 of our 77 counties will have polls open for voters for at least one race. In 18 Oklahoma counties, there will be a federal or state runoff on the ballot. If you have a question regarding if you have a race in which to vote this election, you can go to https://www.ok.gov/elections/ to check and to get other information about elections. On OICA’s website at oica.org, we have published candidate surveys returned by individuals seeking your votes across the state. Continue Reading →

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Yes, We Are Opening, But Should We Have Ever Closed?

Opinion: For the most part, there are two camps in the opening debate running across the United States.  One camp says, “Open.”  The other camp, maybe a little too obvious, says, “Don’t Open.”  The arguments each way can go on for hours.  Some say it’s too soon; others say it should have been done sooner or we should never have closed, and still, others say open now.  Let’s face it: there is no consistency, nobody knows the long term outcome one way or the other, and without businesses in operation, we will continue to spiral financially out of control. The Consistency Factor –Since the start of the pandemic, each Governor, mayor, county, or parish judge, and in some cases small-town groups have been in charge of deciding what gets shut down and what does not.  In some states, churches seemed to be the first target to shut down, but craft stores were left open.  In other states, sections of stores were closed off or hours were cut while in some states the entire store was wide open.  Many argued that there were more people at the local mega-sized shopping center than there would have been at the small-town church.  Orders ranged from no closure of churches, to complete closure with a ticket if anyone even set foot on church property.   This lack of consistency, and in some cases, extreme measures unseen in other parts of the country, caused many Americans to feel their rights were being trampled.  Let’s face it, trample our rights, and we Americans get upset.  The argument is sound – if Mississippi closes all churches, even parking lot meetings in cars, but Texas leaves all churches open, how is that fair?  Is COVID-19 transmission less in Texas than in Mississippi?  Even in the local area of Texarkana, one side of the border had a curfew, while the other side had a shelter in place.  Regardless of which measure you supported, the lack of consistency could be seen across the street.  

Without consistency, we cannot exalt the extreme hashtag of #AllInThisTogether because to be blunt…we are not, or at least we are not equally in this together.  Imagine if, during WWII, there had been no consistency in air raid responses in the United States.  What if one town decided when an air raid sounded, they would turn off their lights, but another city decided they would not?  Imagine if those towns were as close as Texarkana, Texas, and Arkansas.  What would have happened in Texarkana had an air raid been real, enemy planes flew over to bomb, and Texarkana, Texas had all lights on while Arkansas was dark?  We would have all suffered because of the lack of consistency.  The lack of consistency has undoubtedly hurt us in a period that we really needed to be “All In This Together.” 

The Nobody Knows Factor –The last major pandemic to have such a sweeping impact on the United States ended in December of 1920.  The Spanish Flu spread and dominated the world from roughly January of 1918 through 1919.  It was still be tracked in places as late as the December 1920 date, which causes debate still as to how long it lasted.  Regardless of how long it lasted, those people that dealt with that pandemic from a government point-of-view are long gone.  Our current generation has no idea what the long-term outcome is going to be for COVID-19.  We could have a vaccine and pull out in a month, or it could be years of COVID-19 sparking up in areas around the world.   We do not know if opening today makes a difference or if opening up six months from now would make a difference.  We do not know if closing made much of a difference at this point, although numbers do seem to be rising since the opening phases started.  Overall though, we will not know the outcome of opening up right now until years from now.  We will study history and science behind this pandemic, and at some point, likely many years from now, there will be a verdict on the actions we take today.  That future review will indicate that we either made the right choices or the wrong choices.  Hopefully, that information will be used should there be a future pandemic.  Whatever the outcome is, we will have 20/20 hindsight vision, and right now, we have no idea what that 20/20 vision is going to show us. The Without Business Factor- Business makes the world go around.  It always has, and it likely will always make our societies function and thrive.  Without business, no money is made.  Without money, at least for our society now, nobody can pay for anything from food to shelter or utilities.  You don’t work, and you don’t pay the electric.  The electric company doesn’t get paid, and they cannot pay workers or keep plants running.  Those people at the plants do not get paid, and they cannot pay their bills.  So goes the cycle.  Also, in that vicious little cycle is a thing called taxes.  If you don’t work, you don’t pay taxes.  You do not pay taxes, and then the government does not have money.  While we may all marvel at the idea of not paying taxes, we must also accept the consequences of not paying taxes.  Without taxes, you have no educational money, Medicaid, Medicare, Police, Firemen, road repairs, new roads, military, state parks, federal parks, rules or regulations on utilities or limits on what they can charge, no city government, county government, state government, or U.S. government.  While some of that list may not worry many of us, the fact is while you’re not working, and the government has no income, it ultimately will not be able to pay your unemployment benefits.  So without business, failure sets in on a governmental level that will eventually affect all of us. It only takes a few minutes to scan the news, and you will find incidents of the government already suffering from a lack of tax revenue.  Naturally, elected officials made the hard and difficult decisions in many states.  They did not cut their salaries or benefits they felt are essential…no.  The first cuts announced were education – grants, loans, funding for schools, etc. – the next area was Medicaid – funding for healthcare for seniors, disabled people, poor, etc.  Please make no mistake, without business functioning, society as we know it will continue to break down.  Grocery prices will continue to soar, unemployment will continue to rise, and ultimately the government will continue to make cuts that will eventually affect you and me.  The business factor simply means we have to have the business open to move forward. Continue Reading →

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Jobless Claims Break Records; Affects Families

Child Statistic of the Week Focuses on Water Safety Day, May 15

The way we all conduct business has changed due to COVID-19, with millions finding themselves without a stable income. Just last week, Oklahomans filed more than 68,000 jobless claims with the Oklahoma Employment Security Commission (OESC) during the week ending May 2. That is up more than 15,000 claims from the week before. On the week ending April 25, OESC made compensation payments to nearly 155,000 people according to the U.S. Department of Labor data. U.S. unemployment rate for April hit a staggering 14.7 percent, the highest rate since the Great Depression. Continue Reading →

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Four States News Rolls Quietly Over 6000

The Four States News Website (fourstatesnews.us) reached 6000 published post late Friday afternoon. As six press releases and other updates went out Friday afternoon, the Four States News quietly marked number 6000 for post and pushed beyond. To the reader at large, it went by completely unnoticed, but to me, as I sat in front of the computer screen and reviewed the posts and updated, it stood out as a tremendous accomplishment aided by too many people to thank. Steve Oglesby conceived the idea for the Four States News and rolled out the publication in October 2013. It was a time when online publications were just starting to take hold and provide credible news and information. Continue Reading →

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‘Tis the Season to Give to Foster Children

With Thanksgiving behind us, ‘tis the season for holiday decorations, non-stop Christmas music on the radio, and a lot of hard work for the public employees, OICA staff and volunteers working to get holiday presents for the roughly 8,000 Oklahoma children in foster care. That effort begins with caseworkers at the Oklahoma Department of Human Services (DHS), who collect holiday wish lists from each foster child. Next, those wish lists are matched with partner organizations like OK Foster Wishes, the gift drive run by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) that works to fulfill these wish-lists with the help of generous donors. We are proud to say that OK Foster Wishes is the largest gift-drive for foster children in the state, fulfilling more than half of the Oklahoma foster children’s wish lists. OICA and DHS operate the OK Foster Wishes warehouse (a space being generously lent to us, free of charge, by Hobby Lobby) where gifts are stored, sorted and eventually sent out to children. Continue Reading →

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Children of Military Families Need Additional Support

Veterans Day is a wonderful and necessary holiday and a great time to give thanks to those that serve our nation. However, as we move on from this day, it is important to keep the needs of our veterans and active military personnel – as well as their families and children – on our minds all year. According to the US Census, there are 21,369,602 veterans in the United States, with 312,492 veterans currently living in Oklahoma.  That does not include the 1.3 million military personnel and more than 800,000 reserve forces serving nationwide, or the roughly 20,000 service members now living in Oklahoma. In the modern military, families experience increased stress from multiple deployments and longer tours of duty. Since the war in Afghanistan began in 2001, the United States has seen the largest sustained deployment of military servicemen and servicewomen in the history of the all-volunteer force. Continue Reading →

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Friday (11/2): OK Foster Wishes Kickoff Party

The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will be kicking off its annual holiday gift drive for children in foster care tomorrow (Friday, November 2) from 5-7 PM at the Oklahoma’s Credit Union building at 3001 N. Lincoln Blvd in Oklahoma City. OK Foster Wishes is a collaboration between OICA, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, and several other non-profits that provide transportation, storage and monetary support. Each year, OK Foster Wishes matches gift “wish lists” from children in foster care with adult donors who purchase the gifts for specific children. Attendees at tomorrow’s party will receive a wish list or, alternatively, can make a cash donation or bring a gift (gifts not paired with wish lists will be distributed to children and families who did not submit a list). OK Foster Wishes Kickoff Party Details

Friday, November 2
5 – 7 PM
Oklahoma Credit Union: 3001 N. Lincoln Blvd, Oklahoma City, OK 73105
Continue Reading →

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Shining a Light on Children’s Issues Ahead of Election Day

Just one week to go before Election Day!  I am sure most Oklahomans are ready for this campaign cycle to end and see what the future holds for Oklahoma. As a 501c3 non-profit organization, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy is prohibited from endorsing any candidate or party. Although I am from a political background myself, I have come to greatly appreciate our non-partisan role, as I believe it makes our organization a more effective force for improving the lives of children. No matter which party is in power, or who is running for office, OICA is able to shine a light on the issues that matter most to children. One way we have impacted the 2018 elections is through our candidate surveys, which you can find at OICA.org. Continue Reading →

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Grandparents Play a Key Role in Raising Children

For many youngsters, grandparents play a significant role in raising us and molding us into the people we become.  I often think about my extended family and how lucky I was to have so many people in my life who cared about me and helped me grow and develop.  Many Oklahoma children, unfortunately, are not as fortunate as I was; they do not have an older generation of family members in their lives who can teach and assist them in their formative years. While it is a well-documented fact that many children are lacking positive adult role models, the state is inadvertently exacerbating that situation, especially when it comes to grandparents. In the U.S. Supreme Court case of Troxel v. Granville, the Supreme Court discussed parents’ fundamental rights to raise and rear their own children. It should be noted though, the Troxel case refused to strike down a Washington state law granting substantial grandparent visitation. Due to this, the Troxel case left states with varying degrees of grandparent visitation throughout the nation. Continue Reading →

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Raising Awareness by Honoring Champions for Children

When I took the helm at the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), the board of directors made it clear the mission of our organization needed to move back to our roots. Our mission is “creating awareness, taking action, and supporting policy to improve the health, safety, and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.”

Part of raising awareness about children’s issues is recognizing the good work that is already being done in our community. That recognition not only assigns credit where credit is due, but also encourages others to do good work as well. OICA’s way of encouraging that recognition is through our two premiere awards: the Laura Choate Resilience Award and the Moran Kidizenship Awards. OICA is now accepting nominations for both, through September 14th, and we hope the public will nominate many deserving recipients (nominees can be submitted at OICA.org). Continue Reading →

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