It was an amazing evening last Friday, as the Heroes Ball and Sidekicks Ball hosted more than 370 adults and 30 kids for a night of fun and celebration. We honored seven outstanding Oklahoma individuals and organizations who do great work for the children of our state. Our honorees included Karen Waddell of Count Me In 4 Kids, Judge Lisa Tipping Davis (recognized posthumously), Tulsa County Commissioner Ron Peters, former Norman State Representative Laura Boyd, the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, the United Methodist Circle of Care and Judy Payne of Palomar (Oklahoma City’s Family Justice Center). Each of these honorees were either selected by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy board of directors or by a vote of the people.
The Heroes Ball helped raise funds for OICA for upcoming events and child wellbeing programs which are held throughout the year. Galas like this also provide the opportunity to raise awareness about our work on behalf of children and to educate attendees about what remains to be done. We have many people to thank for making the Heroes Ball a success, but I especially want to thank the committees who oversaw each aspect of the event, our hardworking volunteers, and the OICA staff who spent many hours ensuring we had a great event.
Moving forward, we have a busy schedule at OICA and a lot of work to do. Our next upcoming project will be to purchase and distribute – with the generous support of Walmart, Express Employment and Simmons Bank – approximately 700 “back to school” backpacks to foster children. If you would like to contribute to this effort, please reach out to our office at 405-236-5437 or to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more details.
We will also be preparing for the 2019 Fall Forum, to be held at OSU-OKC Oct. 1 and 2. Early bird registration will be available at oica.org within the next few days, so we encourage you to sign up now and save on the cost to attend.
Finally, I want to thank Senate President Pro Tempore Greg Treat for approving so many interim studies that look at issues impacting the youth of our state. Senator Treat was honored by OICA a few years ago for legislation he carried to support at-risk youth; we certainly appreciate his continued focus on these issues as well as his passion for pursuing better outcomes in our criminal justice system. Of the interim studies we hope to have a hand in are Study 14 by Senator Haste, looking at the Safe Babies Court Team program; studies 19, 20, 21 and 22 by Senator Ikley-Freeman, respectively at looking at disaster response protocols, youth access to mental health programs, seclusion and restraint policies in schools and childcare deserts; study 32 by Senator Montgomery which looks at the Earned Income Tax Credit; studies 46, 48, 49, 50, and 51 by Senator Scott analyzing DHS practices for investigating daycare facilities, summer feeding programs for youth, funding for storm shelter space and a study of the Family First Prevention Services Act; study 57 by Senator Simpson looking at our opioid crisis; and studies 60 and 64 on the DDSD waiting list and cyberbullying by Senator Standridge. These and other studies can be reviewed at OkSenate.gov and we encourage you to contact lawmakers requesting the study if you want to be notified on when they will be held.