Project HOPE (Harnessing Opportunity for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood Development) is designed to generate real progress toward equitable outcomes for young children and their families. Funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, HOPE is led by a consortium of three partner organizations including Nemours Children’s Health System (Nemours), Boston Medical Center’s Vital Village Network and the BUILD Initiative. Nemours is working directly with OPSR to create a long term plan to improve well-being and reduce inequities in children ages birth to five.
Specifically, Project HOPE aims to work with communities and states that have multi-sector coalitions, networks or initiatives that are committed to reducing inequity by addressing early childhood adversity through systems alignment, policy and capacity-building strategies. Throughout the course of this grant, OPSR will share its discoveries with the public as well as public and private partners to scale strategies that improve child well-being.
OPSR created an Early Learning Equity and Diversity (E-LEaD) team of state leaders to assist with the goals of this grant. This team helped OPSR select infant mortality as the grant's equity focus.
OPSR is now implementing Hopeful Futures, also known as Sensemaker®, a research tool focused on the collection of stories, with the help of the University of Kansas Center for Public Partnerships and Research. Learn more about Hopeful Futures below.
Infant mortality was selected as this project's equity focus as it represents a measure of a communities' overall health as well as indicates large disparities within the state. Oklahoma has one of the highest infant mortality rates (IMRs) in the nation. And despite recent improvements, significant racial disparities persist. The IMR for American Indians (11.3 deaths per 1000 births in 2014-2016) is more than 1.5 times that of non-Hispanic, White (6.3), and the non-Hispanic Black IMR (13.4) is more than double. There has been a steep increase in the IMR in American Indian population, primarily in the post-neonatal (infants who are at least 28 days but less than 365 days old) period.
Infant mortality can be compared across geographic, racial and income levels and can serve as a compass to monitor the impact of a collaborative approach to improving infant health. Historically, improvements in community conditions, such as access to care in remote geographical regions, have demonstrated a positive impact in reducing infant mortality rates.
Hopeful Futures is a data gathering tool that OPSR is using to collect and analyze the experiences of communities as they relate to our equity focus – infant mortality. Once enough information is collected, communities can convene and use this data to create local, actionable solutions.
To get a more in-depth look at Hopeful Futures or submit your story, visit https://bit.ly/33oEXN8.
OPSR is currently working with multiple communities across the state to gather as much feedback as possible about experiences related to pregnancy, birth and the first year of a child's life. So far OPSR has worked with the Oklahoma City Indian Clinic as well as in Okemah, Okla. to collect stories via Hopeful Futures. Plans are also being made to work with the Chickasaw Nation, which we hope to have updates on soon!
During September 2019, OPSR attended a state convening for all Project HOPE's grant recipients in Philadelphia, PA. In addition to Oklahoma, teams from Washington, Florida and New Jersey were in attendance. This collaborative convening provided new strategies, resources and ideas and informed our plan to move forward their Project HOPE work.
Powerful presentations were given by Dwayne Wharton with The Food Trust as well as representatives from the Institute for Public Health Innovations, Vital Village Network and Altarum. OPSR staff also presented about Oklahoma's progress and future plans.
The Project Hope Data Report describes OPSR's inequity focus on infant mortality. A complex health issue, infant mortality has multiple medical, social and economic determinants including race, maternal age, education and health status. Oklahoma has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the nation, despite recent improvements. In addition, significant racial disparities persist. For instance, the infant mortality rate for American Indians is more than 1.5 times that of non-Hispanic whites while the infant mortality rate for non-Hispanic blacks is more than double that of non-Hispanic whites.
For the full report, click here.
An Early Childhood Integrated Data System (ECIDS) creates securely, linked data across various early childhood programs to inform Oklahoma’s early childhood system. In partnership with the Oklahoma Health and Human Services Cabinet and the Oklahoma State Department of Education, OPSR led efforts to design and implement ECIDS. Thank you to the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation for their funding that made this project possible.
In FY18, OPSR partnered with national experts Elliot Regenstein and Jonathan Furr to gain insight as to the next steps Oklahoma should take to further the development of ECIDS.
Regenstein is a partner at Foresight Law + Policy with extensive knowledge on state level policy, governance and data systems. Furr is the founder and executive director of Educations Systems Center and is actively engaged in state and national education policy.
Regenstein and Furr presented their findings to Oklahoma’s key stakeholders, and their full report can be found here. In FY19, OPSR received the Preschool Development Grant, known as OKFutures, from the Administration for Children and Families and have continued working on ECIDS. Find details here.
For more information, check out the resources below from the Early Childhood Data Collaborative:
LENA (Language ENvironment Analysis) is a system that measures interactive talk and provides teachers with helpful feedback.
LENA Grow transforms interactions in a child setting through experiential professional development. Measuring the most predictive elements of child outcomes, LENA Grow supports stakeholders at every level, helping teachers gain the skills to measurably improve classroom quality by boosting interactions and helping leadership make more informed planning and policy decisions. The program couples LENA's "talk pedometer" technology with weekly coaching sessions. Teachers gain insights that go far beyond typical feedback, leading to quality improvement without additional burden on their schedules.
During FY19, 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.
Currently, OPSR is working with classrooms at Special Care in Oklahoma City and Head Start in Stillwater. Both of these locations began LENA Grow in December 2019. Children wear simple, comfortable cotton vests with a recorder inside (the talk pedometer technology) that tracks how many verbal interactions they have as well as how much a child is talking themselves.
“Seeing the results of LENA has given me confirmation as a teacher on what I’m doing right and some peace of mind when it comes to several of our kids who aren’t really verbal. Realizing that even the baby babble matters, it was a huge eye-opener,” Gardenia Celaya, Special Care.
The Oklahoma Early Learning Inventory (ELI) provided teachers with a snapshot of a student’s skills and development at the beginning of kindergarten. The information gained by this assessment not only informed educators on how to support their classrooms but additionally, served as a guide to families, community partners and policymakers on how to enhance early learning opportunities.
This project was supported by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation and the George Kaiser Family Foundation. In partnership with the Oklahoma State Department of Education, OPSR conducted statewide surveys, focus groups and personal interviews of pre-K and kindergarten teachers and administrators on the use of assessments in their classrooms. Since 2016, OPSR aggregated this feedback, presented results and provided ELI professional development to teachers and school districts.
Then, in FY17-18, OPSR conducted a feasibility study to assess the cost, resources, benefits and limitations of implementing an ELI. Our pilot areas for the ELI feasibility study included: Ada, Candian, Cimarron, El Reno, Gypsy, Marietta, Milwood, Newcastle, Oklahoma City, Osage, Pawnee, Quapaw, Stillwater, Stratford, Tulsa and Welch.
After the feasibility study, our research partners at the University of Oklahoma created a final report for OPSR on how to best move forward with the ELI. You can find it here.
Our research partners include: Dr. Kyong-Ah Kwon, assistant professor, College of Education, University of Oklahoma; Barbara Jones, Ph.D candidate, College of Education, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa; and Shannon Guss, project director, Early Childhood Education Institute, University of Oklahoma-Tulsa.
State-level Home Visiting Integration with Early Childhood Data Systems (SHINE)'s goal is to integrate home visiting data with other early childhood data to support better-informed decision-making and policymaking. Currently, most home visiting data is disconnected in separate databases in different state and county agencies. As such, home visiting data is not often connected to other early childhood data, making it difficult for state leaders and advocates to answer critical policy, program and research questions.
In 2018, Project SHINE made progress by linking home visiting and SoonerStart data to determine if children referred for evaluation by a home visitor completed the evaluation within 45 days of the referral. The analysis of this data is under development and will be added to OPSR's next home visiting report.
Recently, Debra Andersen, OPSR executive director, presented on Project SHINE at the 2019 National Summit on Quality in Home Visiting Programs with Kristine Campagna, chief of the Office of Family and Home Visiting and Newborn Screening, Rhode Island Department of Health; Dale Epstein, senior research analyst, ChildTrends; and Van-Kim Lin, research scientist, ChildTrends.
On March 11, 2019, OPSR convened home visiting stakeholders to learn what additional research questions might further the goals of Project SHINE. This meeting was facilitated by ChildTrends' Dale Epstein and Van-Kim Lin and featured perspective from those in the field including: David Bard, associate professor, University of Oklahoma Health Science Center (OUHSC); Will Beasley, assistant professor, OUHSC; John Delara, epidemiologist, Oklahoma State Department of Health; Townsend Cooper, pediatrician, OUHSC; Stephen Gillaspy, professor, OUHSC; and Pamela Gutman, research supervisor, Cherokee Nation.
To learn more about home visiting and Project SHINE, click the resources below.