In response to COVID-19, OPSR and over 40 early childhood stakeholders worked together to develop seven recommendations to ensure equitable access to early childhood care and education (ECCE) for Oklahoma children.
For three months, OPSR lead more than 40 early childhood stakeholders, including representatives from Head Start/Early Head Start, child care, public schools, home visiting, early childhood mental health, tribes, special education and health, to identify what is necessary to complete our state’s economic recovery and protect the stability of families with young children.
Seven reccomendations were developed and address: 1) how early care and education programs can safely care for children; 2) how to equip parents to make informed choices on selecting early care and education programs; and 3) how to leverage financial supports and relief packages to maintain Oklahoma’s early childhood infrastructure throughout the pandemic.
The timeline below offers an up-to-date look at the steps Oklahoma has taken to support children and families amid COVID-19.
March 26: The Office of Child Care releases state reports on their planned use of the Child Care and Development Fund Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act. The Oklahoma Department of Human Services' report echoes their commitment letter from Jan. 2021. To read the official report, click here.
Jan. 12: Oklahoma Department of Human Services releases plans to use Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) dollars, authorized by federal coronavirus relief legislation last month, to fund a number of interventions to support Oklahoma children and families and the child care industry. Click here for more details about their Child Care Services Sustainability Plan.
July 30: Approximately $9.6 million in CARES Act Coronavirus Relief Funds will be awarded to more than 2,200 childcare centers across Oklahoma to support the industry's efforts to deliver safe, essential services during the pandemic. Read the full OKDHS press release here.
July 8: Oklahoma is approved to operate a Pandemic Electronic Benefits Transfer (P-EBT) program through funding provided under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act. P-EBT provides extra food benefits for families with school-aged children who would have received free or reduced-priced school meals through the National School Lunch Program (NSLP) and who meet certain eligibility criteria. Learn more here.
June 19: OKDHS extends coverage of family copays through the month of July 2020. In addition to copays, OKDHS will continue to add on the rate of $5 per child, per day in July as well.
June 16: The Oklahoma State Department of Health issues new guidance for child care reopenings including CDC health and safety guidelines as well as social distancing practices. Click here for the complete document.
May 29: OKDHS offers 60 days of subsidized child care to Oklahomans who are job searching due to the loss of employment during the COVID-19 crisis. Click here to learn more.
April 24: OKDHS waives copayments for all families who receive subsidies for April and May 2020.
April 14: OKDHS temporarily increases the daily subsidy rate by $5 per eligible child for the months of April and May.
April 7: USDE approves Oklahoma waivers granting schools spending flexibility with current federal funds.
April 6: Oklahoma Department of Human Services (OKDHS) to issue emergency relief payments to foster families in early April.
April 2: Oklahoma State Department of Education releases a new resource to engage families and support distance learning during school closures.
April 1: Oklahoma State Department of Human Services approved to issue emergency allotments to SNAP customers. Read details here.
April 1: Oklahoma State Department of Health Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) Program implements an online application for new and existing clients in order to minimize exposure to the COVID-19 virus.
March 27: Oklahoma State Department of Education partners with the Oklahoma Educational Television Authority to provide teachers resources to assist with distance learning.
March 26: Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP/C1) work to loosen provisions on Nursing Case Management to use Medicaid with telephone visits. Pending final approval.
March 25: Oklahoma shares a first phase of supports for child care providers. Read more here.
March 23: Oklahoma Head Start Collaboration gives update on Head Start and Early Head Start openings and closings. Find a list here.
March 20: Oklahoma Policy Institute publishes broad child care recommendations. See https://okpolicy.org/child-care-plays-pivotal-role-during-health-crisis.
March 19: Oklahoma State Department of Health issues new COVID-19 guidance for child care facilities. Read the guidelines here.
March 16: All Oklahoma State Department of Health (OSDH) in-person home visiting ceases. Parents as Teachers begins virtual and telephone visits as well as offers daily COVID-19 specific resources and increases Zoom meetings. Both SafeCare and Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP/C1) switch to telephone-only visits.
March 16: Oklahoma State Department of Education (OSDE) approves the closure of all Oklahoma schools beginning March 17 through April 6.
If you're a parent in need of support during this uncertain time, many of our partners have resources to help. We've linked some below, so that you have easy access.
Did you know that more than 67 percent of American children under six have all available parents participating in the workforce? The COVID-19 crisis has reinforced how important child care is to families and our economy.
Parents, providers and other early childhood advocates in Oklahoma highlight why supporting child care is essential to our future. #ChildCareIsEssential
Organizations, advocates and even the media are recognizing how essential child care is to our nation's livelihood.
"The Pandemic is Set to Shutter 30% of US Childcare Centers" by Business Insider
"When Can Child Care Resume?" by The New York Times
This website's new page connects COVID-19 essential workers and parents to open child care. It includes information about: the opening status of child care; access to emergency child care (for essential workers); child care financial assistance; and help finding child care.
A new learning module, "COVID-19 and Early Care and Education Considerations Before Reopening," from Head Start ECLKC explores the latest research- and science-informed resources and practices on caring for children during the coronavirus.
Specifically it higlights: