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OK25by25 initiative tackles early childhood development issues

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Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition. (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)
Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition. (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)

Approaching the third anniversary of the launch of the Oklahoma Early Childhood Coalition, supporters of the 10-year initiative called OK25by25 took a look back at the progress made and the work yet to be done.

The initiative includes allied organizations, a legislative caucus, the Oklahoma Champions for Early Opportunities (OKCEOs), and 12 metrics used to measure progress, or regress, over the 10 years from 2016 to 2025. The primary goal is to improve the development and wellbeing of families with children pre-birth to five years old.

The objective is for Oklahoma to move into the top 25 states in each of the 12 metrics by the year 2025. 

“We remain among the bottom states in almost every significant indicator of child development and wellbeing,” said Craig Knutson, Potts Family Foundation (PFF) president & CEO.

OK25by25 was launched May 16, 2016, in a state capitol press conference by the foundation with support from 25 statewide organizations, state legislators and business leaders. 

The coalition identified four focus areas that can have a significant positive impact on early childhood development: access to preventive health care (including brain health); affordable, high quality child care; evidence-based literacy/numeracy programs; and evidence-based, two-generation family support programs.

Three years later, support has grown to more than 60 allied organizations, more than 40 legislative caucus members and almost 60 OKCEOs.  

Legislative caucus co-chairs Sen. Adam Pugh, Edmond Republican; Sen. Kay Floyd, Oklahoma City Democrat; Rep. Mark Lawson, a Sapulpa Republican and Rep. Cyndi Munson, an Oklahoma City Democrat, lend their support to the initiative.

“Investing in early childhood education is a bipartisan issue,” Munson said. “As co-chair of the Early Childhood Education Caucus, I am grateful for and proud of the members on both sides of the aisle who have chosen to dedicate their efforts to invest in Oklahoma’s children. Since the inception of this caucus, we have pushed the Legislature to prioritize investments in trauma-informed care, affordable child care, and literacy programs.”

Lawson added, “Our state's most precious resource is our children; therefore, meeting their needs early on is vital to their futures. Our caucus allows us to strategize how to best address the challenges our young children and their families face, and develop policy to enact those strategies."

Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts commended the Legislature for its attention to early childhood development issues. “We are encouraged by the response of legislators both old and new to the need for greater investment in Oklahoma’s children and vulnerable parents,” she said.

Highlighting activity over the past three years, Knutson noted that the coalition has held three statewide conferences and been an integral part of two interim studies at the state capitol, along with the creation of a statewide task force studying best practices in trauma-informed care.

“We are also three years into tracking performance metrics and identifying the major organizations, agencies, and individuals involved in positively changing those metrics.”

Three years ago, a committee of data and early-childhood experts was assembled to review about 50 metrics that met five criteria: be meaningful to the target demographic; have a history of being collected over time; be collected annually; can be sourced, including date and time; and can be compared to the other 49 states.  

The committee was comprised of the major state agencies, Oklahoma Child Care Resource and Referral, Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), OU Health Sciences Center, Sunbeam Family Services, Chickasaw Nation, Oklahoma Office of Educational Quality and Accountability, American Academy of Pediatrics, Potts Family Foundation, Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness (formerly Smart Start Oklahoma), and Oklahoma State University.  The OICA sought further input from a number of early childhood organizations and nonprofits in the Tulsa area.

Each participating organization was asked to rank the criteria from which the final set of 12 was selected. The metrics selected were:

  • % Children Age 0-5 at or Below Poverty
  • % Uninsured Under 19
  • % Own Children with Single Parent
  • % Females 18-64 with Associates Degree or Higher
  • Teen Birth Rate, Age 15 -19 Per 1000
  • Preterm Birth Rate
  • Infant Mortality Rate Per 1000
  • % of Vaccination Coverage for Children Aged 19-35 Months
  • 4th Grade Reading Scale Score
  • % of Children Ages 3-4 Not In Nursery School, Preschool or Kindergarten
  • % of Children Living in Food-Insecure Households
  • Rate of Child Victims per 1000 From Past 4 Years

“Undertaking a project as large as OK25by25 can only be accomplished by carefully monitoring changes in outcomes as new programs and policies are implemented,” said Jennifer Hays-Grudo, PFF board member and Director of the Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity at the OSU Center for Health Sciences.  “Without good data, it is impossible to make good funding decisions in the future and to know where resources need to be placed.” 

Unfortunately through 2017, the most current year for which data is available on the metrics, very little progress has been made. “Only four of the metrics have improved their rankings and none have cracked the “Top 25” ceiling to date,” Knutson said. 

For more information on OK25by25, visit http://ok25by25.org and Facebook and Twitter@OK25by25. 

This article is sponsored by the Potts Family Foundation.

Related Photos
Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)

Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)

<figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-ba9e87e31ab2cedc333026ee5b20607c.jpg" alt="Photo - Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)" title="Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)"><figcaption>Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-6b100ef610494a7d52e853178a7da03d.jpg" alt="Photo - Early Childhood Education Caucus members are, left to right, Sen. Adam Pugh, Sen. Kay Floyd, Rep. Mark Lawson and Rep. Cyndi Munson." title="Early Childhood Education Caucus members are, left to right, Sen. Adam Pugh, Sen. Kay Floyd, Rep. Mark Lawson and Rep. Cyndi Munson."><figcaption>Early Childhood Education Caucus members are, left to right, Sen. Adam Pugh, Sen. Kay Floyd, Rep. Mark Lawson and Rep. Cyndi Munson.</figcaption></figure><figure><img src="//cdn2.newsok.biz/cache/r960-72849d9a43d13189d1e13bf940179f51.jpg" alt="Photo - Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)" title="Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)"><figcaption>Potts Family Foundation co-founder Pat Potts addresses members of the OK25by25 Early Childhood Coalition (Photo provided by the Potts Family Foundation)</figcaption></figure>
Eddie Roach

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OK25by25 - Oklahoma Early Childhood Coalition

The Potts Family Foundation is passionate about improving the condition of Oklahoma’s future workforce: Oklahoma’s children. Our collective response to these trends is to create a nonpartisan coalition of impassioned organizations that are focused on the critically important issues that can help eliminate the conditions that are impairing our young children from becoming a successful workforce. OK25by25's goal is to raise Oklahoma's rankings of early childhood wellbeing to the top 25 states by 2025. Read more ›

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