Tuesday, December 10, 2019

OICA Releases 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda


OICA Releases 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda

OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) has released its 2020 Children’s Legislative Agenda, a series of public policy goals aimed at improving child well-being in Oklahoma. The Children’s Legislative Agenda was drafted with input from attendees at OICA’s Fall Forum, which included experts from state agencies, foster parents and foster care specialists, summer food program professionals, mental health specialists, concerned citizens, and legislators.

The Agenda focuses on four areas of concern:

At-Risk Youth: Oklahoma must address the very high levels of children experiencing traumatic experiences at an early age and offer greater resources to those who do experience trauma. Oklahoma should increase trauma-informed training for teachers, develop a state plan for counseling within schools that includes social emotional learning standards, expand the DHS school-based service worker program, and implement other policies directed towards providing assistance to low-income families.

Education and Early Childhood Development: Oklahoma must improve student outcomes at every level, including college graduation rates, by laying a stronger educational foundation for very young children. That will necessitate changes such as: providing greater assistance to low-income families seeking high quality childcare, improving teacher pay and benefits in early education classrooms, and expanding access to school-based social workers and school counselors.

Criminal Justice Reform: Oklahoma must allow more families to remain intact by reducing the incarceration rate, emphasizing drug and mental health treatment, and reevaluating fines and fees associated with juvenile justice.

Health and Behavioral Health: Oklahoma must increase access to primary and preventative care as well as mental health services. Oklahoma should maximize all available federal matching funds for health care in Oklahoma, remove barriers to the use of telehealth, increase the number of community health centers and take other steps that will improve Oklahoma’s health and mental health infrastructure, particularly in underserved and rural areas.

“The goal of this Children’s Legislative Agenda is to improve living conditions for young people in Oklahoma,” said OICA Board President Mitchell Rozin. “This is not a partisan agenda; it was created at the direction of the men and women who work every day with at-risk youth and struggling families. We urge lawmakers in both parties to work together to help these children and families by implementing these policies. Doing so will help to build a stronger state and a better place to live for all Oklahomans.”

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