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New Research and Policy Series to Address Issues in Early Childhood Education and Care

Oklahoma’s top early childhood advocacy group and the state’s only early childhood research institute are partnering to offer a new, multi-session conference to highlight early childhood research, initiatives, and policy.

“Building Equitable Futures for Oklahoma’s Children: An Early Childhood Research and Policy Series,” presented by Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (OPSR) and the Early Childhood Education Institute (ECEI), is Dec. 9, Jan. 13 and Feb 10.

Each of these free, online webinars will feature multiple keynote speakers and introductory remarks from state leaders including State Superintendent Joy Hofmeister.

“Our goal is that these lectures will inform early childhood administrators, leaders, researchers, decision-makers and funders about current early childhood research conducted in Oklahoma with a focus on Pre-K studies, the state’s early childhood initiatives, and ancillary services and supports for the early childhood workforce,” said Diane Horm, ECEI director.

The ECEI, housed at the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa, is an applied research institute focusing on children ages birth through 8. For several years it hosted the Early Childhood Leadership Institute, an annual conference addressing myriad topics ranging from dual language learners and outdoor learning environments to assessing young children and understanding trauma and resilience.

OSPR, a nonprofit focused on strengthening families and ensuring all children are ready for school, has hosted its Oklahoma Research Symposium for several years. Previous conferences have addressed effective strategies for promoting equity, supporting Oklahomans living in poverty, and strengthening early care and education and child welfare partnerships.

By joining forces, leadership from both organizations anticipate having a stronger impact on a larger audience.

“Working with the Early Childhood Education Institute has expanded the reach of both or our organizations. This strong partnership will bring quality presenters and researchers to not only a statewide audience but a national one that can help shape positive outcomes for young children and their families,” said Debra Andersen, executive director of OSPR.

The first session, titled “Foundations: How Oklahoma Research Influenced Pre-K Policies and Programs Across the Country,” will feature a presentation by Bill Gormley and Deborah Phillips on their ground-breaking pre-K study conducted in Oklahoma 20 years ago. Georgetown University’s Anna Johnson and the ECEI’s Sherri Castle will then present the preliminary results from their current research following a group of Tulsa children age 3 through 4th grade.

Subsequent sessions in the series will focus on early childhood child and teacher well-being and equity in early childhood education.

“We hope this webinar series will bring valuable resources to the early childhood community by fostering discussion about lessons learned that can be utilized to better implement policies and initiatives focused on building equitable futures for all children,” Andersen said.

For more information, or to register for the event, go online to or