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.
Project HOPE was a health equity grant awarded to OPSR in 2018 focused on promoting the well-being of children birth to five by preventing and mitigating early childhood adversities and reducing racial, ethnic, geographic and economic inequalities. During FY19, OPSR worked with a cross-sector stakeholder group, the Early Learning, Equity and Diversity (E-LEaD) Team, to select infant mortality as a health indicator.
In addition to selecting a health indicator, OPSR collaborated with the Center for Public Partnerships and Research at the University of Kansas to create a story-gathering tool called Sensemaker. In the upcoming year, OPSR will partner with organizations like the Oklahoma City Indian Health Clinic to collect stories related to infant mortality, examine patterns and gain a new understanding of what families need to thrive.
Oklahoma was one of five states selected by Child Trends, the nation’s leading research organization focused on improving children’s lives, to participate in the State-level Home Visiting Integration with Early Childhood Data Systems (SHINE) Initiative. OPSR served as a facilitator for the Oklahoma State Department of Education and the Oklahoma Department for Human Services who collaborated to link home visiting and SoonerStart (IDEA Part C) data that confirmed follow-ups on referrals. In addition, OPSR convened 100 home visitors, researchers and agency leaders to identify research and policy questions to be answered via linking data as well as presented at the 2019 National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs.
OPSR was awarded $3.1 million by the Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Child Care, Administration for Children and Families to administer the Preschool Development Grant Birth through Five (PDG B-5), also known as OKFutures. This grant’s vision was to create the country’s most effective early childhood mixed delivery system by improving and building on Oklahoma’s existing programs and services.
To accomplish these goals, multiple governments, universities, agencies, businesses, nonprofits, teams and individuals worked together by guiding, informing and implementing the grant. To learn more about each of this grant’s activities, visit the OKFutures page.
OPSR made progress in the state’s work to improve accountability and transparency of early childhood services by securing technical assistance in the development of an early childhood integrated data system (ECIDS). Contractors Third Sector Intelligence (3SI) and subcontractors Foresight Law + Policy and Chapin Hall established a project oversight committee with representation from the Oklahoma State Department of Health, the Oklahoma Department of Human Services, the Oklahoma State Department of Education and Cabinet Secretary Steven Buck. The final report provides a plan for an early childhood integrated data system in Oklahoma.
With the support of Public Service Company of Oklahoma and through funding provided by the American Electric Power Foundation, LENA Grow pilots were conducted at Tulsa Educare and Delaware Child Development Center. LENA Grow is an innovative, research-based professional development program for infant, toddler and pre-K teachers. In the upcoming fiscal year, LENA Grow will continue to make progress by piloting at three new sites in 22 classrooms.
The 2019 Oklahoma Early Childhood Research Symposium, Promoting Equity: Comprehensive Early Childhood Strategies featured Dr. Brenda Jones Harden of University of Maryland College Park. Her presentation, Promoting Equity through Early Childhood Interventions, examined evidence on the benefits of interventions like home visiting, parenting programs and early childhood education on children experiencing risks like poverty. By providing a forum for the latest in early childhood research, OPSR hopes this information will be used to develop new policies, practices and programs.
In Oklahoma, during FY19 quality and availability continued to vary within early care and learning options. This was evidenced by existing administrative data as well as parents, providers and stakeholders who indicated that quality was one of the most frequent reasons for enrolling a child in a child care program.
Specifically, in addition to star rating, parents reported six elements as most important to quality childcare.
Family support services improve overall family well-being and are key to ensuring parents have the knowledge, skills and resources to support their child’s growth and development. Oklahoma’s high percentage of the population experiencing at least one adverse childhood experience (ACE) creates a strain on overburdened and underfunded family support programs and services. As reported in the 2019 State of Babies Yearbook, Oklahoma’s population that has experienced trauma (31.9 percent) is 10 percent higher than the national average.
A parent’s ACE score can also affect a child’s development. For each parental ACE identified, a child’s suspected risk of developmental delay increased by 18 percent.
As of 2018, Oklahoma ranked 47 out of 50 states in overall health. And families who are uninsured continue to face difficulty accessing health services during FY19. In fact, nearly one in three parents reported experiencing difficulty accessing health services. Oklahoma’s uninsured low-income infants and toddlers still sits above the national average at 7.2 percent.