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For the Children: “Back to School Bashes” Provide Free School Supplies to Foster Children Featured

Written by  Wednesday, 07 August 2019 09:15
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By Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy CEO Joe Dorman


As we prepare for the end of summer vacation for many Oklahomans, both students and educators alike, I am reminded of my own days and summers growing up in Rush Springs. Our end of summer was always signified by the annual Watermelon Festival, which welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to our small town on the second Saturday of August each year (and still does to this day). After the festival, we finished our back-to-school shopping and got ready for another school year.


Of course, back-to-school shopping can be a significant burden for many Oklahomans with big families and modest budgets, and that is especially true of families that make the wonderful decision to foster children. That’s why I am pleased that the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) is partnering with First Lady Sarah Stitt and others to host two “Back to School Bash” events, where foster families can have access to free backpacks and school supplies while their children enjoy a night of movies, games and fun. The events will be held on Aug. 13 at the Governor’s Mansion and August 16 at Guthrie Green in Tulsa. Spaces are limited; if you are a foster parent attending with a child, please be sure to RSVP at HTTP://BIT.LY/STITTSCHOOLBASH.


OICA, thanks to generous grants and support from WalMart, Express Employment International, Simmons Bank and King Marlin Swim Club, was able to purchase more than 700 backpacks for the youth who will attend. School supplies have been donated by other organizations so families and kids can take home the essentials they need for school.



Additionally, OICA is partnering with other programs in rural parts of Oklahoma to enhance their backpack programs that aid foster youth. If you are interested in supporting, volunteering or donating to this or one of our other programs, please contact our office at or at (405) 236-5437.


Numbers provided by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services just last month show a clear need for these kinds of services. Of the 8,008 children in foster care, 4,287 are classified as school age (5 – 17), with 3,616 of these youth living in either an out-of-home placement, a kinship (family member) home, a foster care home with family like settings, or in congregate care (with 24-hour supervision in highly structured settings such as a group home, institution, residential treatment facility or maternity home). We are thankful that the OICA can provide some support for these young Oklahomans, working in collaboration with some great partner organizations.


Going forward, we hope to expand our ability to support existing back-to-school backpack programs and to empower more DHS workers to deliver these backpacks to families directly. There are several other fantastic programs working toward this goal, such as It’s a Child’s Life. This is an Ada organization which holds an annual walk to purchase luggage for DHS workers to use for kids, along with a 5K run to help raise funds to find forever homes for orphans. To learn more about their Orphan Love Mud Run on September 21, or to support their mission, go to for details.


I hope to see all our supporters at the 75th Annual Rush Springs Watermelon Festival this Saturday, and please bring a young relative or neighbor with you to this great family-friendly event! I promise, this is a fun way to celebrate the end of summer and the remaining days before school starts!


David Deaton

Digital Editor at Oklahoma Welcome

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