Oklahoma can and should do a better job of helping vulnerable children with existing resources—that’s according to State Sen. Jay Paul Gumm who announced he has reintroduced legislation to create Oklahoma’s first-ever Children’s Cabinet. His measure had bipartisan support last year, winning unanimous approval in the Senate, but was never given a hearing in the House of Representatives.
“Politicians love to talk about family values and how important children are to the future of this state—but facts show Oklahoma has not done a good job of making those words and ideals a reality,” said Gumm, a Democrat from Durant. “When you look at the number of our children living in poverty, languishing from abuse and neglect, the low birth-weights, teen death rates, and high number of drop-outs, it is obvious that this state has a lot of work to do.”
Gumm explained the Children’s Cabinet proposal contained in Senate Bill 1276 is modeled after those in other states and would help streamline services for agencies and organizations that currently serve Oklahoma’s children. The children’s Cabinet would include 15 top ranking officials whose agencies have interests in children’s policy in Oklahoma. Support staff would be provided by the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth.
“I believe we have many of the tools in place to make a significant impact that will improve the lives of thousands of Oklahoma children—it’s simply a matter of making it a higher priority in government,” Gumm said. “This would not create more bureaucracy or require additional funds—it’s simply a matter of creating public policy that will enable us to better focus on our common goal which is to improve the lives of this state’s children, and in doing so, create a better future for all Oklahomans.”