Part of our responsibility is to present an annual report to the Governor of Oklahoma, such that our leaders and community can better understand barriers to school success that children and their families may face from birth to the time they enter school.
The Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness contracted with liquidfish, a web design and marketing company, to change our image. This rebranding included the creation of a new logo as well as other brand standards, including colors and fonts. Our new logo represents the corner of a track and is inspired by the fact that OPSR helps children in the race of life. Now, our look is fresh, modern and professional and reflects the very best of OPSR.
At the 2018 Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium, OPSR once again successfully brought together those who care about and work with families and children to improve and increase investments in early childhood. Specifically, we highlighted research that looked at understanding the complexities of poverty. Keynote presenters included Jacqueline Counts, University of Kansas, Center for Public Partnerships and Research, director and Kristen Slack, University of Wisconsin-Madison, School of Social Work, professor. In addition, Bob Harbison was selected as the 2018 OPSR Champion for Children for his 20+ years of advocacy and leadership.
Oklahoma made great progress on the development of an Early Learning Inventory (ELI) for Kindergarten, an assessment that provides teachers with a snapshot of a student’s cognitive skills, behavior and physical maturity at the beginning of school. OPSR completed its feasibility study and a report with recommendations is now available.
We continue to focus on improving coordination and facilitating communication, such that OPSR works directly with the Early Head Start-Child Care Partnership (EHS-CCP) on policy and program implementation. This partnership brings together the strengths of each program and provides comprehensive family services within high quality, early learning environments that are aligned with Head Start performance standards. EHS-CCP grantees are Delaware Child Development Center, CAP Tulsa, Sunbeam Family Services, Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, Little Dixie Community Action Agency, Northeast Oklahoma Community Action Agency, Inc. and Tulsa Educare, Inc.
Looking ahead, OPSR was recently selected to lead Project HOPE (Harnessing Opportunity for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood Development) in Oklahoma. One of only four states to be chosen for this grant by Nemours Children’s Health System, OPSR will work with a local community to generate progress toward equitable outcomes for young children and families. In addition, OPSR is set to apply for the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five. If selected, this grant will bring significant funding to our state to improve the coordination and quality of a mixed delivery system of early childhood programs.
Affordable, dependable and accessible child care can impact whether a family maintains employment and makes a living wage in contrast to relying on public assistance. Moreover, children in high quality early care and learning are more likely to succeed in school. But unfortunately, there has been a steady decline in the number of licensed facilities in the state with a 27.3 percent decrease since 2010.
|Age||Child Population||Number of Children with Working Parents||Percent of Children with Working Parents|
|0 - 5||303,691||187,999||61.9%|
|6 - 12||361,743||247,110||68.3%|
|0 - 12||665,434||435,109||65.4%|
This information was provided by the Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral Association, Inc. and is current as of Nov. 1, 2018.
Third and fourth grade reading scores can also tell us a lot about the impact early care and learning has on the lives of Oklahomans. At the time of our report, we weren’t able to get the most recent Oklahoma Core Curriculum Tests, but the 2016 results can be found here. We did look at fourth grade reading levels to give us a more accurate portrayal of disparities. As reported by the National Assessment of Educational Progress, we found Oklahoma’s 2017 score of 217 was slightly lower than the national average of 22.
Students who were eligible for free/reduced school lunch, an indicator of low family income, had an average score 23 points lower than students not eligible.
In FY18, our annual report focused on indicators to determine how and where Oklahoma should invest more resources related to family support. Specifically, we utilized the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health’s 2016 National Survey of Children’s Health to find out the percent of parents who said they have sufficient social support.
In 2016, 81.9% of parents in Oklahoma said the past 12 months there was someone that they could turn to for day-to-day emotional support when parenting or raising children.
The information was provided by the Data Resource Center for Child & Adolescent Health.
Connecting children and their parents to health services is a critical step toward school readiness. However, this year’s report found an estimated 21,828 Oklahoma children under the age of six lack health insurance. In fact, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, Oklahoma’s uninsured rate increased in 2017 to 14.2 percent from 13.8 percent in 2016, while the national rate stayed flat. This means that there were 11,559 more uninsured Oklahomans than the previous year.
Other health-related findings were more encouraging, particularly the percentage of babies who were born at a healthy birthweight.
An estimated 21,828 Oklahoma children under the age of six lack health insurance.
The information was provided by the Oklahoma State Health Department.
In order to make a long-term impact and improve equity in Oklahoma, investments in our early childhood system are necessary. As demonstrated below, deep budget cuts have affected the Oklahoma Department of Human Services’ ability to assist families with child care. We hope Oklahoma’s leaders and policy makers will use this information to call for more, sustainable funding in early childhood.
This information was provided by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services and is current as of Nov. 1, 2018.