OKFutures is a grant designed to improve Oklahoma's early childhood system by building upon existing federal, state and local early care and learning services.
This grant was awarded to OPSR by the U.S. Departments of Health and Human Services and Education and is administered by the Administration for Children and Families. In one year, we'll complete five activities including: conducting a needs assessment, crafting a strategic plan, maximizing parent choice, sharing best practices and improving overall quality.
OPSR is working with state agencies and stakeholders to guide the implementation of this grant. Specifically, three committees are each focused on an important component of the grant including: Family and Community Engagement, Professional Development and Quality Improvement.
This piece of OKFutures will focus on assessing the availability, quality and alignment of existing health, early care and learning, and family education and support programs. This evaluation will help determine the number and type of families who currently participate in Oklahoma's early childhood system as well as analyze data and identify stragies to reach our target population of Oklahoma's most vunerable and underserved families. Moreover, this assessment will link policies, practices and funding that impede equitable access to resources.
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OKFutures will create a five-year comprehensive, strategic plan by engaging stakeholders in at least eight geographically diverse Oklahoma communities and utilizing parent voice. This plan will include specific strategies that provide curriculum and instructional support. In addition, the strategic plan will expand partnerships in communities through schools, libraries, community centers, faith-based organizations and more.
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One of OKFutures' priorities is to increase parent awareness about the resources and supports available in Oklahoma's early childhood system. Specifically, OPSR will work with a communications firm on messaging that is relatable to and connects with all Oklahoma families. Additionally, in order to maximize parent choice, this grant will build community capacity by expanding existing parent education resources.
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Throughout OKFutures, OPSR will leaverage partnerships to learn successful strategies that inform systems improvements. In doing so, OKFutures will create a one-year, cross sector professional development plan to expand capacity for implementing evidence-based practices.OKFutures will also work to increase the skills and capacity of classroom management, coaching, mentoring and consultation.
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OKFutures will make systems-level recommendations to improve the overall quality of Oklahoma's early childhood system. OPSR will address challenges and seek consultation with external experts. And OPSR will review the needs assessment and strategic plan to develop an evaluation of system and program quality and effectiveness as well as successful outcomes for children and their families.
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If you're interested in being involved with or staying informed about OKFutures, all you have to do is complete a short form online. Participants will help create meaningful progress in quality improvements, capacity building, parent engagement and improved outcomes for Oklahoma children.
Our steering committees are made up of dedicated professionals with expertise in each area of OKFuture's focus: Family & Community Engagement, Professional Development and Quality Improvement. These teams convene to guide, inform and assist in the implemention of grant goals. And have representation from Head Start, the Oklahoma Commission on Children and Youth, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, the Oklahoma State Department of Education, the Oklahoma State Department of Health and Oklahoma's Native American tribes.
Click here for a PDF on the organization of these committees.
This committee informs the needs assessment and strategic plan from a family and community perspective. In addition, they guide plans for the implementation of maximizng parent engagement and oversee the development of community and family engagement strategies, inclusion activities, community systems building and transition plans. Lastly, they will develop a family engagement plan for subsequent OKFutures' application for continued funding.
This committee also informs the needs assessment and strategic plan and is responsible for projects related to sharing best practices and quality improvements. Moreover, they oversee a cross-sector professional development plan while addressing gaps, developing training plans for coaching and mentoring, and monitoring continuing education hours. Lastly, they will prepare a professional development plan for subsequent OKFutures' application for continued funding.
This committee informs the needs assessment and strategic plan and is responsible for a systems-level review of policies, practices, oversight, data and costs. In addition, they work to reduce inefficiencies; increase program effectiveness; identify sustainable funding; and create policy alignment. This team also supports the alignment of program standards and monitoring practices to inform a toolkit for layering funding. Lastly, they will develop a systems improvement plan for subsequent OKFutures' application for continued funding.
July 29, 2019
OKFutures Steering Committee
July 23, 2019
Quality Improvement team
July 12, 2019
The Professional Development team discussed coaching models, training calendars and the professional development conference. The team set the date for the conference for Saturday, Nov. 2, and made progress on selecting training and event locations.
July 11, 2019
The Family and Community Engagement team met to provide feedback on the goals and strategies in development by Advocacy & Communication Solutions. The team also reviewed the messaging analysis, which is attached below. This analysis provides insight into current messaging frames in Oklahoma, such as "ready for school," "strong families," and "whole child" as well as delivery tactics, such as utilizing postitive mesaging.
June 24, 2019
During this meeting, the OKFutures Steering Committee had an in-depth discussion and review of the needs assessment outline draft. In addition, the committee reviewed the PDG B-5 Strategic Plan Guide from the Administration for Children and Families as well as received updates from other OKFutures teams.
June 13, 2019
The Family & Community Engagement team provided feedback and made progress on the development of a survey that will help Advocacy & Communication Solutions make strategic communication recommendations. More specifically, the purpose of this survey will seek to undertand: 1) where families get information about early childhood and who they trust; 2) family perspectives about the importance of early childhood, what high quality early childhood education looks like and what they value; and 3) message themes that resonate with families.
June 7, 2019
Nancy vonBargen, consultant, National Center on Early Childhood Quality Assurance, presented her findings on workforce surveys at the most recent Professional Development team meeting. The team then discussed the development of a survey of which the results could be embeded in the strategic plan. Additionally, team members heard a report on the upcoming statewide training conference for 2020 with the plan to have several different agencies collaborate and host the event.
June 6, 2019
The Quality Improvement team took steps to improve inter-agency collaboration across Oklahoma's early childhood care and education (ECCE) systems of care. In addition, this team discussed bugeting and policy strategies in ECCE as they relate to quality. OPSR staff also gave updates on the needs assessment and strategic plan's progress as well as an overview of recent focus groups conducted by the Urban Institute.
May 20, 2019
During the third OKFutures Steering Committee meeting, team members reviewed Urban Insititute's "Needs Assessement: Key Themes Memo," which is available below. This memo highlights key themes that have emerged from the ongoing assessment of early childhood care and education and related services in Oklahoma. The OKFutures Steering Committee, in particular, focused on refining several terms from that memo including: quality early childhood care and education; availability; vulnerable and underserved; and children in rural areas. These terms are central to understanding Oklahoma's existing needs. In addition, updates were given on upcoming Community Conversations and current contracts.
May 9, 2019
During this Family & Community Engagement meeting, the team focused on successful and unsuccessful messaging around early childhood within the state. The group went in-depth about the Oklahoma State Department of Health's Small Moments campaign, which can be seen here. This discussion will be beneficial to Advocacy & Communication Solutions' work on Maximixing Parent Choice. In addition, the team received a brief overview of upcoming Data Walks that will help inform the Strategic Plan. Lastly, a pilot project with Oklahoma libraries was reviewed. Although in intitial stages, this project is geared toward family and community engagement and will make a large impact in smaller Oklahoma communities.
May 3, 2019
The Professional Development team conducted their first meeting and determined goals for OKFutures, which can be found below in the "Outline of Responsibilities" PDF. In addition upcoming professional development opportunities were discussed, including the University of Central Oklahoma's upcoming Trauma Care Conference in November. Moving forward, this team will look at a collection of 2019 training calendars and identify existing gaps.
April 29, 2019
In the second OKFutures Steering Committee meeting, team members recieved an update from Family & Community Engagement, Quality Improvements, Professional Development and Evaluation teams. In addition, Mike Katz with the Urban Institute detailed the purpose and process of upcoming Community Conversations, which will utilize a data walk to encourage collaboration and empower community members to share their insights. Logistics of the Community Conversations will be finalized by a planning committee, however, they are tentatively planned for June in 12 communities across Oklahoma.
April 9, 2019
At the first Family & Community Engagement team meeting, the scope and purpose of this team was defined, such that they will inform the Needs Assessment and guide Maximizing Parent Choice. The team added to the list of Oklahoma services and programs, which was initiated during the first Quality Improvements meeting. In addition, Advocacy & Communication Solutions, LLC, (ACS) who will help Maximize Parent Choice, gave an overview of their experience and approach to this project. Click here to learn more about Maximizing Parent Choice.
April 2, 2019
In their first meeting, the Quality Improvement team discussed technical assistance needed to build upon existing efforts to create a plan for the development of an Oklahoma Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS). The final Request for Proposal issued by OPSR can be found here. This team also began a list of Oklahoma services and programs, so that the Urban Institute might use this information during the Needs Assessment.
March 25, 2019
During this meeting, the OKFutures Steering Committee spoke with the Urban Institute about the work they will be doing on OKFutures' Needs Assessment. In addition, the team went over the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Adminsitration for Children & Families' (ACF) Needs Assessment Guidelines.
Program Coordinator - Quality Improvements
Torri is an attorney from Oklahoma City, Okla., who brings experience as a public policy professional and community organizer to OPSR. Prior to joining OPSR, she worked in business litigation and counseled nonprofit start-ups. Torri also previously served as the state advocacy and public policy director for Oklahoma’s food bank network, where she advocated in support of vital childhood nutrition programs, oversaw federal contracts and grants implementation and worked to improve systems of care for under-resourced children across the state. Torri enjoys spending her free time with her family, board gaming, and serving as pro bono counsel for OU Law’s Center for International Business and Human Rights.
Program Coordinator - Professional Development
Angela began her career in the public school system. She taught for 21 years in Putnam City, Okla., and directed a faith based child development center for four years. Additionally, she has four years of experience with Early Head Start through Sunbeam Family Services, a local nonprofit agency. She earned her master’s degree in educational administration from the University of Central Oklahoma. Angela and her husband, Dallas, live in Oklahoma City, Okla. She enjoys spending her free time with their five sons and family.
Program Coordinator - Family & Community Engagement
With 21 years of experience in the early childhood field, Kim serves as an OKFutures program coordinator. She has worked in both Early Head Start and Head Start and earned her Bachelor of Arts in Early Childhood Development and Education from Bacone College. OPSR is proud to have such a strong advocate for early childhood education as part of its team. Born and raised in Tahlequah, Okla., Kim is a member of the United Keetoowah Band tribe. She lives in Edmond, Okla., and has four grown children and one granddaughter.
As administrative coordinator, Courtney work on OKFutures, a grant that is focused on aligning Oklahoma's existing services and programs for children and families. She has four years of experience working in business management and earned her bachelor's degree in business administration and management with a minor in marketing from the University of Central Oklahoma. Her other interests include cosmetology, and she has her cosmetology and esthetics license from Meridian Technology Center. Born and raised in Guthrie, Courtney is happy to be a part of the OPSR team and continue her passion for helping Oklahoma's youth to ensure they have a bright future.