Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Rough Road for Little Oklahomans

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: Fourth Reading: Rough Road for Little Oklahomans

Article excerpt

Emily is 6 years old.

Her little brother, BJ, is 5.

They both have dark brown eyes and deep raven hair. Life hasn't been easy for either of them. Drug use, violence and instability haunted their family from the beginning. The state Department of Human Services tried to help. Emily and BJ were removed from their home and became wards of the state. Already in their short lives, they have been placed in seven different foster homes.

Like thousands of other children in Oklahoma, Emily and BJ saw the framework of their family crash around them. They adapted. They got used to moving. Their entire world - some clothes and a few toys - came bundled in a few plastic bags.

They've known hunger.

They've known poverty.

They've known violence.

Their story is all too familiar. Here in Oklahoma, where the economy is strong, business is thriving and where we continue to reduce taxes in the name of economic development, the needs of our smallest residents remain unmet. Even in Oklahoma County, one of every four children goes to bed hungry.

In southeastern Oklahoma, poverty is rampant. In fact, everywhere in the Land of the Red Man, our children suffer for the sins of the adults.

Some have tried to make things better. State Rep. Jason Nelson, R- Oklahoma City, has made DHS improvements a cornerstone of his legislative career. Nelson helped draft the DHS Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan and continues to push for changes and improvements in child welfare.

But Nelson is only one of 149 lawmakers, and poverty, like the Oklahoma wind, is always with us.

Private groups, churches and even the business community have also joined the effort. Even with those resources, though, the problem remains and children like Emily and BJ continue to live in the shadows. For all our bluster and focus about the idea of a limited government, we continue to fail to help the smallest residents. …

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