Thursday, October 8, 2015

Fallin Names Former Oklahoma First Assistant AG as Special Adviser on Child Welfare and Pinnacle Plan Implementation

OKLAHOMA CITY – Governor Mary Fallin today announced she has named Tom Bates, who was a longtime assistant in the Oklahoma attorney general’s office, as her special adviser on child welfare and Pinnacle Plan implementation.

Bates served 15 years in the attorney general’s office, mostly recently from 2012-14 as first assistant to Attorney General Scott Pruitt. His responsibilities included overseeing the more than 90 civil and criminal attorneys and 40 agents employed by the attorney general's office.

As the governor’s special adviser, Bates will primarily be responsible for overseeing implementation of the Pinnacle Plan, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ (DHS) ongoing effort to reform the state's child welfare operations.

“Tom is knowledgeable about the Pinnacle Plan and the legal process surrounding the plan,” said Fallin. “I look forward to having his expertise on this priority issue and to ensure the Pinnacle Plan is being implemented effectively.”

Bates joined the attorney general's office in 1999. While there, he litigated and prosecuted a number of high profile cases. He served the office as Don't Call Registry administrator, lead assistant attorney general for consumer protection litigation, chief of the multicounty grand jury unit, chief of the public protection unit, and as first assistant.

"Having worked with Tom in his previous capacity in the attorney general's office, I am excited that he will be working with us on the Pinnacle Plan,” said DHS Director Ed Lake. “We appreciate Governor Fallin selecting high-quality appointments to fill the role of special adviser and we know Tom will bring valuable perspective and experience to our efforts."

A native Oklahoman, Bates graduated from U.S. Grant High School in Oklahoma City, and earned a bachelor’s degree and his juris doctorate from Oklahoma City University.

Bates is an active member of Putnam City United Methodist Church and has served the congregation in a variety of leadership roles. He is a graduate of Leadership Bethany and has served on the board of directors for the Bethany Chamber of Commerce. He is also a graduate of the Oklahoma Bar Association's leadership academy and Leadership Oklahoma Class 28.

He and his wife, Kellye, have been married for 26 years. They have two sons, Andy and Billy, who are both students at the University of Central Oklahoma.

More about the Pinnacle Plan

The Oklahoma Pinnacle Plan is a five-year improvement plan for the state’s foster care system. The plan was developed in 2012 as a result of a settlement agreement in a class-action, civil rights lawsuit. DHS agreed to make improvements in several key areas of the foster care system including increasing the recruitment of foster homes, reducing the use of emergency shelters, and lowering workloads for child welfare specialists.

In recent months, DHS has announced the closing of its two state-run emergency children’s shelters, child welfare workers have greatly reduced the number of backlog cases, and the department and its contract foster care agencies have recruited hundreds of new foster homes. DHS has increased in-home services to families in an effort to keep children out of state custody and worked to help children reunite with their families or reach adoption faster. Thanks to these efforts, the numbers of children in care has been steadily dropping which is positively impacting all the goals in the Pinnacle Plan.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lawmakers to Study Student Data Privacy Issues

OKLAHOMA CITY –The House Common Education Committee will hold an interim study this week on privacy issues related to student data.

The study will be held on Wednesday, October 7, 2015, from 9:00 a.m. to noon in room 412C of the state Capitol.

The study will explore the competing interests surrounding the collection and use of student information in public schools. The study will provide a broad overview of the many areas of consideration as the Legislature seeks to strike an appropriate balance between the need for student data for legitimate educational purposes and the need to protect student privacy through responsible limits on the nature and use of student information.

"This interim study is only the beginning of a thoughtful effort to draft important student privacy legislation for consideration during the next legislative session," said state Rep. Jason Nelson, R-Oklahoma City, who requested the interim study. "From now through next session while work on this legislation continues I will be meeting with organizations and individuals interested in this issue. It is important that all sides are heard."

The interim study is open to the public. The study will be streamed live through the Oklahoma House of Representatives website, A link to a recording of the study will be posted on the website later in the day after the conclusion of the study.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Fallin: Workplace Silence Leads to Violence

By: Governor Mary Fallin and Oklahoma Verizon President Kristi Crum

Domestic violence affects one in four women. Sadly, Oklahoma is ranked sixth in the nation in the number of women murdered by men. This epidemic affects people of all demographics and communities, extending from the home to the workplace.

Statistics like these are why the state of Oklahoma and Verizon have participated in raising awareness on these issues year after year in conjunction with Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

Oklahoma recently dropped from third to sixth in the national ranking, but domestic violence is still prevalent. Employers, including both the state of Oklahoma and Verizon, have a very real stake in protecting their employees from this scourge. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention estimates the annual cost of lost productivity in the workplace from domestic violence at more than $7 million. More than 74 percent of employed battered women were harassed by their partner while at work. The side effects of domestic violence in the workplace alone translate to 8 million days of paid work lost each year.

Everyone can help change the current path of domestic violence in the workplace by simply discussing domestic violence among coworkers, friends and family. Businesses should be encouraged to recognize signs of domestic violence, have programs in place or partner with an advocate agency for resources.

The governor has named October “Domestic Violence Awareness” month in Oklahoma, and October 8 will be “Wear Purple Day” to raise awareness for domestic violence victims. All Oklahomans are invited to not only wear purple on that day, but to talk about the issue with friends and coworkers.

For Verizon, preventing domestic violence is a cause that hits close to home. The company lost three employees this year due to domestic violence.

It’s important that we have resources for victims. That is why Verizon created its HopeLine program long ago. HopeLine puts Verizon technology and its substantial wireless network resources to work in communities by collecting no-longer-used wireless phones and accessories, from any carrier, and repurposing them as a safe line for victims.

Since HopeLine was founded in 2001, Verizon has distributed more than 190,000 phones with more than 543 million free wireless minutes and 298 million texts as a safe backup to victims of domestic violence. Additionally, Verizon has awarded more than $29 million in grants to domestic violence agencies and organizations throughout the country, several of which are here in Oklahoma.

For the month of October, please consider participating in promoting awareness in your workplace by donating used cell phones and accessories to one of the multiple HopeLine drives. Contact your local district attorney or domestic violence agency to learn more about resources for victims or to view a screening of Telling Amy’s Story, a documentary that details the life of a Verizon employee who was killed as she tried to leave her abusive relationship.

Mary Fallin is the Governor of Oklahoma and Kristi Crum is the president of Verizon Oklahoma
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...