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OICA 25th Anniversary

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Copyright 2007-2008

Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy
420 N.W. 13th Street
Suite 101
Oklahoma City 73103
Phone: 405-236-5437
Fax: 405-236-5439

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oklahoma KIDS COUNT factbook 2007-2008


Press Release

Embargoed until January 24th, 10:30 a.m.


Anne Roberts
405-236-5437, ext. 101
cell: 405-627-9877

Or Ann Salazar
405-236-5437, ext. 102
cell: 405-831-2806


Good News for Oklahoma's Kids

OK KIDS COUNT 12th Annual Factbook Shows Improvement and Decline for the Well Being of Oklahoma’s Children, Youth and Families


Part 1: State Overview and Findings

(Oklahoma City, OK) “There’s good news for kids,” says Anne Roberts, Executive director for the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA). The 12th Annual Oklahoma KIDS COUNT Factbook being released today at the Southern Hills Marriott of Tulsa shows improvement in nine indicators:

Birth to Young Teens (ages 15-17)
Birth to older Teens (ages 18 & 19)
Birth Teens (combined ages 15-19)
High School Dropouts
Juvenile Violent Crime Arrests
Infant Mortality (under age 1)
Child Death (ages 1-14)
Teen Death (ages 15-19)
Child & Teen Death (ages 1-19)

The same nine indicators which improved in recent years still show some improvement over comparable data from the middle of the 1990s or early 2000s. But, some of the significant areas of improvement in all four death indicators is starting to erode; staying the same or slowing. Three indicators worsened: Low Birthweight (less than 5 ½ pounds), Very Low Birthweight (less than 3 pounds 5 ounces) and Child Abuse and Neglect. Each year, more than thirteen thousand children are abused or neglected.

The 2007-2008 Factbook presents a statewide overview and county by county data reflecting the well-being of Oklahoma’s children, youth and families. The same 13 indicators are documented each year and compared to previous years. This year’s book includes a focus area for Children’s Behavioral Health which includes new county level indicators resulting in the Childhood Stress Index and ranking. This index reflects the prevalence of children’s mental health needs versus the capacity for services.

Dr. Hiram Fitzgerald, Executive Director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health, is the featured speaker for the KIDS COUNT Factbook release. Anne Roberts, OICA Executive Director, is hosting the Factbook release sharing pertinent information from this year’s book. Following the Press Conference, Dr. Fitzgerald is the key note luncheon speaker at the combined 20th Annual Substance Abuse and the 18th Annual Mental Health Best Practices Conference.

Dr. Fitzgerald is also Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement and University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan. (Additional bio information is available below.)

Download Dr. Fitzgerald's Key Note PowerPoint Presentation, The Crisis in Youth Mental Health: Experience Matters


Part 2: Children’s Behavioral Health (Factbook Focus Section)

The 2007-2008 Factbook focuses on the reality of behavioral health issues in Oklahoma’s children and youth as well as the lack of sufficient treatment opportunities available. Children are not spared the stresses that plague most adults.

Oklahoma infants, children and adolescents suffer from mental illness just as adults do. According to the OK KIDS COUNT Factbook, mental illness in children requires assessment that is different from that undertaken for adults. Understanding childhood mental health and illness requires unraveling the individual child’s particular history, both normal and abnormal, including development, biology, genetics, relationships, behavior, environment and more. Good mental health requires that a child’s first relationships be trusting and caring to provide a “secure base” from which they can begin exploring the world. When an infant feels insecure and lacks healthy nurturing relationships, a lifetime of poor mental health begins. A baby can experience serious depression or develop eating disorders as early as four months of age.

A very large number of Oklahoma children and teens, almost ninety thousand, suffer from mental or behavioral impairments. One of five children over age 9 and teens under age 18 have a diagnosable mental illness or addiction disorder associated with at least some impairment.

Mental disorder among Oklahoma children may be influenced by biological factors, environmental factors, exposure to trauma and access to effective care. These risk factors do not occur in isolation, but are interrelated and appear in clusters.

Typically, Oklahomans face more ordinary traumas, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Oklahoma ranks first per capita in federal disaster declarations. According to the ACE Study (Adverse Childhood Experiences Study), the focus area of the 2006-07 OK KIDS COUNT Factbook, adverse childhood experiences have a powerful relationship to adult health status half a century later. The same adverse childhood experiences place a child at risk for mental illness, addition disorders and behavioral problems.

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The OK Kids Count Factbook is produced by the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA) to provide parents, policymakers, educators, children's service providers, and the public with a better understanding of the needs of Oklahoma’s children, youth, and families. The full report is available at

OICA is celebrating 25 years of creating awareness, taking action and changing policy on behalf of Oklahoma children, youth and families.




Hiram (Hi) Fitzgerald earned the BA degree in Psychology and Biology from Lebanon Valley College, an MA degree in Experimental Psychology (1964) and the Ph.D. in Experimental Child Psychology (1967) from the University of Denver, and that same year joined the psychology faculty at Michigan State University.  Professor Fitzgerald is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 7, 34, 37), the American Psychological Society, and the American Association of Applied and Preventive Psychology.   Currently, he is Associate Provost for University Outreach and Engagement and University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Michigan State University, and Adjunct Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan.  His international experiences include Fullbright-supported work at the Institute for Psychophysiological and Speech Disorders, Beograd, Yugoslavia (1973-1974) on the neuropsychology of speech disorders; the Government of the Cayman Islands (1982) for development and implementation of a country-wide system of special education, and the Universidad Regiomontana, Monterrey, Mexico (1977-1985) for development of graduate programs in clinical and industrial psychology.  He served as President and Executive Officer for both the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health and the International Association for Infant Mental Health, and since 1992 has been Executive Director of the World Association for Infant Mental Health.  He was editor of the Infant Mental Health Journal and associate editor of Child Development, and currently is a member of the editorial boards for Journal of Studies on Alcohol, Zero to Three, the Infant Mental Health Journal, and Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement.  He is an occasional reviewer for 15 scientific journals and for NIH, NSF, the Maternal and Child Health Bureau, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Canadian Research Council.

His scholarly work has involved a diverse range of topics that have in common an interest in factors that regulate the organization of systems and how systems change over time.  This developmental psychobiological or systems perspective has been applied to studies of infant learning and attention, interhemispheric specialization of function, community based prevention programs for families with infants and young children,  the impact of fathers on early child development,  the etiology of alcoholism and co-morbid psychopathology, and broad issues related to the scholarship of engagement and transformation of higher education.   He is a member of the  research consortium overseeing the national evaluation of Early Head Start,  the steering committee of the American Indian/Alaksa Native Head Start Research Center at the University of Colorado Health Sciences, and the steering committees of the Higher Education Network for Community Engagement and the Outreach Scholarship Conference. He has published over 400 scholarly works .  Recent books include two four-volume sets, the WAIMH Handbook for Infant Mental Health (with Joy Osofsky) and The Crisis in Youth Mental Health (with Robert Zucker and Kris Freeark), and the forthcoming Obesity in Children and Adolescence (with Dele Davies).  His research has received over 30 million dollars of external support from NIAAA, NSF, the Administration for Children and Families, and the Spencer, Grant, and Kellogg Foundations.

He received the Selma Fraiberg Award (1986), the WAIMH Award (1996), and the Dolley Madison Award for Outstanding Lifetime Contributions to the Development and Well Being of Very Young Children (2006).