A Vow to Work to Make Things Better

Joe Dorman, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy 
Over the past four and one-half years that I have been the chief executive officer of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), I have heard tragic stories regarding child abuse and neglect.

I know it is frustrating for those who share these stories of their lives with us, and I can assure you it is heartbreaking for us to not be able to wave a magic wand and immediately fix these challenges. Being a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization outside of government, we have absolutely no control over what the different local, state, and federal agencies do when handling a situation.

We also realize there are always at least two sides to every story. Each side must be researched to ensure reports are valid, and simply not a case of someone using children as a way to “get back” at someone else.

Advocates can be found in many different programs, agencies, and communities. Doing some quick research likely will result in saving time and finding the correct resources available. OICA regularly tries to help individuals who reach out to us with an issue so they can find the best path to resolution of an issue involving a child. In fact, our Legislative Learning Lab was a tremendous success in providing educational discussions about how state government functions. Those panels will soon be live on our website if you missed it live.

OICA works with the leadership in the Department of Human Services (DHS) and other agencies to raise awareness about specific cases. We also work with the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (OCCY), the state entity which oversees investigations on child deaths and issues that might arise with a case before DHS.

We all must remember that every Oklahoman has two individuals elected to represent them in state government decisions. Our state House of Representatives and Senate members are charged with being a voice for their constituents with voting on policies. They also are there to help constituents navigate the bureaucracy of state government to find solutions for problems that can be solved.

Now, they cannot bend or break the laws to help someone, but your representative and senator can certainly act as a resource to point you in the right direction, and maybe even ease the burden when they engage themselves to find a solution. During my time as a representative, those opportunities assisting constituents were some of the most rewarding I had. Conversations with those I represented led to passing laws or encouraging agencies to find quick relief on a topic that could be resolved.

Much of the same can be said for our federal delegation, with five Oklahoma members of the U.S. Congress and our two U.S. Senators. They have tremendous teams, both in the state and in Washington, D.C., to assist individuals with problems. Please remember, when you contact the office of a policymaker, please be respectful to their staff as they are doing tough jobs and receive many calls, and sometimes there is just no easy answer, no matter how hard they try.

The 58th Oklahoma Legislature opened Monday (February 1) with the delivery of Governor Kevin Stitt’s vision for the upcoming year with his annual “State of the State” address. We at OICA look forward to working with the governor and legislators, working together to find ways to overcome many of the state’s challenges, especially those surrounding the pandemic and the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

If we can assist you with advocacy solutions, we will try our best to help. 

Using email, contact us here: info@oica.org. The telephone number is 405-236-543. Our mailing address is 2915 N Classen Blvd, Ste 320, Oklahoma City, OK 73106