Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Joe Dorman and OK’s Kids

A Q&A about OICA and more



Joe Dorman

Photo by Charlie Neuenschwander

 

It’s been a few years since Joe Dorman left the harsh spotlight of politics, but he hasn’t gone far. He spent more than a decade in the state legislature, and ran for Governor in 2014. Since then, he has dedicated much of his time to making sure Oklahoma’s children and families have what they need to survive as well as thrive. We recently spoke with Dorman about his work, what he sees on the horizon for Oklahoma’s political landscape and – since he’s a Rush Springs native – watermelons.

Tell us about the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy—when was the organization founded, and why? “The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is a statewide nonprofit that lives up to our mission statement: ‘Creating awareness, taking action and supporting policy to improve the health, safety and well-being of Oklahoma’s children.’ The organization was founded in 1983 because of the ‘Terry D Lawsuit,’ brought forward by seven teenage plaintiffs in the custody of the Department of Human Services. The lawsuit documented instances of abuse and generally horrific conditions faced by Oklahoma children in state custody. This generated a Gannett news report called ‘Oklahoma’s Shame,’ which led to massive changes in the child welfare system. The creation of OICA as a voice for children was a part of that reform.

How does the work you do affect Oklahoma families? “The advocacy portion of our work seeks to positively impact public policy and lawmaking both in the legislature and at the agency level. We are also a resource to lawmakers that can provide statistical data and research regarding child well-being. We also have a direct-service portion of our work: That includes programs like OK Foster Wishes, which provides holiday gifts to thousands of foster children, and OK-LEAD, the leadership symposium we developed to help build self-worth and teach life skills to high school students.”

We know that horrific things that happen to kids can have long-lasting effects on their lives; what is OICA doing to combat that? “One of the things OICA is doing is helping lawmakers understand how Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) impact young Oklahomans well into adulthood, and what we can do to minimize the impact of these unfortunate circumstances. OICA championed legislation to create a three-year task force to look at ACEs with two goals: 1) reducing the number of Oklahoma children exposed to ACEs, and 2) evaluating policies that can lessen the profound impact these negative experiences have on children, even following them into adulthood.

“We also work to raise awareness about existing policies that do not work, and encourage lawmakers to seek improvements (with the help of thousands of individual advocates who work with OICA). For example, OICA has been actively pushing for criminal justice reform to reduce our prison population and help keep more families together.”

The state Department of Human Services is routinely in the news for child welfare issues. And, according to news reports last summer, their “Pinnacle Plan” is still falling short in some areas. What can OICA do to help protect children?

“We continue to urge lawmakers to adequately fund the Pinnacle Plan, and to give DHS the resources it needs to deliver a successful outcome. Additionally, we help raise awareness when specific cases of abuse or neglect are brought forward by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth (an organization founded in the wake of the same ‘Terry D Lawsuit’ that led to the creation of OICA). We are a policy organization, but we are also often the connector for individuals to help find the right resource to assist them.”

All kids deserve a happy childhood. How is OICA working to make sure they have one? “Our daily desktop calendar is published with a different child-related statistic on each of the 365 days of the year. We use this to raise awareness with elected officials about the problems faced by children in our state. We also highlight a different youth program on each of the days to show what organizations are out there helping make a difference for the children of our state. If the public and private sector can work together to find solutions, this will improve the health, well-being and happiness of Oklahoma’s 900,000 children.”

When did you first become aware of the work OICA does? “I first became aware of the work done by OICA as a staff member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives back when I worked there. When I was elected to the House in 2002, I became much more aware of their work, and even presented on one of their panels during the annual OICA Fall Forum. I was fortunate to be selected as the CEO of OICA in 2016, and have loved carrying on this mission each day since.”

Talk a bit about fostering—what is OICA’s role? “Our organization is set up to help encourage improvement of the policies overseeing foster care, and we work directly to assist foster families with OK Foster Wishes. We recently sent a mailing to about 450 Oklahoma churches asking them to consider participation in the 111 Project and the CarePortal – this is a conduit for churches to recruit foster families and help local foster families in need of some type of service or item. We also help fulfill the wish lists in December for every child in foster care through OK Foster Wishes who is not taken by another organization or individual. OICA is responsible for fulfilling more than half of the 8,500 foster children’s wish lists submitted to DHS.”

On a personal note, you were in the state House of Representatives for 12 years and also ran for Governor. What do you see on the horizon for Oklahoma, and the United States? “I am optimistic about the near future in Oklahoma! I would not have run for office if I did not feel I could make a difference, and I have not let an election loss stop me. I believe there are many lawmakers, both state and federal, who truly care about improving the well-being of children, and I see it as my job, and that of OICA, to educate them and provide realistic solutions to help us solve many of the problems faced in our society. There have been some great new laws passed at both the state and federal level that support the kids of our nation, and I am happy that we have been a part of some of those through our advocacy efforts.”

Any plans to return to politics? “I do not feel like I have ventured too far from politics in this new role. I have enjoyed the work with OICA, and know we can continue to improve outcomes for the kids of our state with the folks who have joined with us. I do not know if I will ever run for office again, but I am certain that as long as I am able to be an advocate with the lawmakers on both sides of the aisle in both chambers of the state Capitol, I will feel like I am making a difference for improving Oklahoma … maybe even more so than holding an elective office.”

Finally, you’re from Rush Springs. How were the watermelons last summer? “The watermelon crop was superb! You can take the boy out of Rush Springs, but not vice-versa. I was proud to serve as the chairman of the festival for several years with our local Lions Club; I even still assist the local lawmakers in holding Watermelon Day at the Capitol to promote the festival. I have moved to Oklahoma City since taking this new job, and have shifted my after-work activities to helping run Bricktown Rotary as their President. We are gearing up for the 20th anniversary of the Warren Spahn Awards, which honors the top left-handed pitcher in Major League Baseball, as well as the top high school baseball and softball players in our state. If you join us at the banquet on January 25 at the Skirvin, we can talk baseball, watermelons and what we need to do in Oklahoma to help our children.”

 

 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »You Might Like

The Festival of the Arts’ Legacy

Arts Council OKC director Peter Dolese retraces the origins and expansion of the week-long celebration of creativity that is the Festival of the Arts.

The Natural Touch for Self-Care

Natural products from lotions to fragrances in conscientious self-care that are perfect for a season of renewal.

An Oklahoma Story in Stone

Nearly 150 years after Sophia Pitchlynn died in what was then Indian Territory, her gravestone still stands silent vigil in Garland Cemetery.

Add your comment:
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Calendar

April 2019

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Celebrate Easter with a trip to Andy Alligator’s Fun Park! On Saturday and Sunday, get $5 off an All-Day Pass with our Eggcellent Easter Special. All-Day Passes include Go-Karts,...

Cost: $23.95

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The OSU Symphony Orchestra will conclude the 2018-19 season with Schubert's monumental and majestic Symphony No. 9 in C ("The Great"). The concert opens with The European Anthem,...

Cost: General Admission: $10; Students & Seniors: $7

Where:
Oklahoma State University Department of Music
132 Seretean Ctr
Stillwater, OK  74078
View map »


Sponsor: Oklahoma State University Department of Music
Telephone: 405.744.6133
Contact Name: Dr. Thomas Dickey
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Potbelly Sandwich Shop is giving back to the local neighborhood with Feed Your Smile, a fundraiser supporting Concordia Life Care Community.  Show this flyer on your smartphone or...

Cost: Free

Where:
Potbelly Sandwich Shop
8500 N Rockwell Ave
OKC, OK  73132
View map »


Sponsor: Potbelly Sandwich Shop
Telephone: 405-792-5112
Contact Name: Katy Fabrie
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

"Deliberately silencing the internal chatter and not overthinking. Conscious, but not over-trying. With this approach, things just seem to happen—it’s where all the substance is...

Cost: Free

Where:
Individual Artists of Oklahoma
706 W. Sheridan Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Individual Artists of Oklahoma
Telephone: 405.412.2541
Contact Name: David Smith

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

Shop over 200 vendors at this indoor event with everything from vintage furniture, retro and mid-century decor to handmade goods, antiques, industrial finds and architectural salvage!

Cost: $5 at the door, 13 and under free

Where:
Heritage Place
2829 S. MacArthur
Oklahoma City, OK  73128
View map »


Sponsor: Junk Hippy
Contact Name: Kristen Grandi
Website »

More information

A Sporting Chance will host the 25th annual Track and Field Meet at Branson Junior High in Branson, Missouri. A Sporting Chance provides year-round sports and recreation programs designed for those...

Where:
Branson Junior High
263 Buccaneer Boulevard
Branson, MO  65616
View map »


Sponsor: A Sporting Chance
Telephone: 404-314-2188
Contact Name: Hannah Schachinger

More information

RexFest will feature an interactive art exhibit called a luminarium created by Architects of Air. From April 25-28, visitors can walk through the inflatable sculpture, which disperses light and...

Cost: $8 for kids; $10 for adults; $30 for families of four

Where:
Together Square
400 W Sheridan Avenue
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: Delta Dental

More information

This one-day festival is rooted in the printing of large-scale woodblocks carved by local Oklahoma artists. We bring in a 5-ton steamroller and print pre-carved blocks throughout the day on Tyvek...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Contact Name: Evan
Website »

More information

Men and women from across the American West played critical roles - both “over there” and on the home front - in helping the Allies win World War I. The National Cowboy & Western...

Cost: $12.50

Where:
National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum
1700 Northeast 63rd Street
Oklahoma City, OK  73111
View map »


Telephone: 405.478.2250
Contact Name: Jenni
Website »

More information

The Annual Mentorship Exhibition features pieces from Oklahoma City high school students that visit the Artspace studio each month. Throughout the duration of the program, the students engage with...

Cost: Free

Where:
Artspace at Untitled
1 NE 3rd st
Oklahoma City, OK  73104
View map »


Sponsor: Artspace at Untitled
Telephone: 405-815-9995
Website »

More information

Andy Alligator's is celebrating teachers! On Saturday and Sunday, teachers with a valid ID will receive a FREE All-Day Pass and $5 off for each family member! An All-Day Pass includes...

Cost: Teachers receive a FREE All-Day Pass; family members get $5 off

Where:
Andy Alligator's Fun Park & Water Park
3300 Market Pl
Norman, OK  73072
View map »

More information

America’s largest interactive comedy murder mystery dinner show is now playing at the Skirvin Hilton Hotel. At The Dinner Detective, you’ll tackle a challenging crime while you...

Cost: $59.95

Where:
The Skirvin Hilton
1 Park Ave
Oklahoma City, OK  73102
View map »


Sponsor: The Dinner Detective
Telephone: 866.496.0535
Website »

More information

Get a sample of the nightlife of Spain at Tulsa Botanic Garden's "Viva La Vida." The Garden is bringing star chef Jamie Bissonnette (Toro restaurants in Boston, NYC, Bangkok and...

Cost: $250

Where:
Tulsa Botanic Garden
3900 Tulsa Botanic Dr
Tulsa, OK  74127
View map »


Sponsor: Tulsa Botanic Garden
Telephone: 918-289-0330
Contact Name: Lori Hutson
Website »

More information

2nd annual gathering of "The Big Lebowksi" fans at The Dude Abides OKC All Oklahoma City Urban Achievers, Abiders and Coen Brothers fans are invited to join us at Fassler Hall OKC and...

Cost: Free, contests have entry fee

Where:
Fassler Hall
421 NW 10th
Oklahoma City, OK  73103
View map »


Sponsor: Revolve Productions
Telephone: 405.810.6977
Contact Name: Tobi Coleman
Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags