During its annual Fall Forum meeting, to be held on Wednesday, Oct. 20 through Friday, Oct. 22 and culminating on Monday, Oct. 25, the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) will announce winners of three awards recognizing excellence in child advocacy and philanthropy.

Nominations from members of the public are now being accepted for these awards, which can be submitted on the organization’s website at http://oica.org. The three awards are the Steven A. Novick Child Advocacy Award, the Laura Choate Resilience Award, and the Jasmin and Melvin Moran “Kidizenship” Award.

“Each of these awards represent something special about those who fight for Oklahoma’s children,” said Joe Dorman, OICA’s CEO. “Steven Novick dedicated much of his legal career to improve the lives of youth in state custody. Laura Choate was one of those for whom Steven fought and she has dedicated her life to that same cause. Melvin and Jasmine Moran are two of Oklahoma’s finest child advocates who have spent their life together fighting for children.”

Steven A. Novick served as the legal counsel for the children who brought forth the “Terry D” lawsuit against the State of Oklahoma. Through his effort to represent these children and the thousands of others who benefited from this case, reforms were brought about to improve the conditions of Oklahoma youth in state care. It was in the aftermath of the “Terry D” lawsuit that OICA was created.

Laura Choate has served as a lifelong advocate for Oklahoma children and was the first recipient of the Resilience Award. She worked with the OICA to reform the state’s child welfare and juvenile justice system to better serve and protect Oklahoma children. As a youth, Choate served as a plaintiff in the class-action lawsuit that resulted in dramatic changes to Oklahoma’s juvenile justice system and was used as a model by many other states to establish higher standards.

The Kidizenship Award is OICA’s statewide awards program recognizing and rewarding excellence in youth philanthropy for youngsters under the age of 18. The awards are named after Melvin and Jasmine Moran, philanthropists in their own right, who are best known as the founders of the Jasmine Moran Children’s Museum in Seminole, Oklahoma.

Dorman said anyone is eligible to nominate someone for any or all of the awards. “All one has to do is go to our website at oica.org and fill out the nomination forms,” he said. “Each year, we get a tremendous group of nominees who embody what is best about Oklahoma. I look forward to seeing the nominees and presenting those to the awards committee who will determine the recipients.”

Nominations will close at 4 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 13. Award winners will be announced at OICA’s annual Fall Forum, where activists and state officials come together to learn how to better advocate for children and develop the annual “Children’s Legislative Agenda” to guide OICA’s work at the State Capitol. This year, the Fall Forum will be a virtual event to protect participants from the COVID-19 pandemic. Information about Fall Forum also is available on oica.org.

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