Oklahoma’s voluntary public prekindergarten program currently serves 65% of the state’s 4-year-olds in a mixed-delivery model, offering programming in public schools, Head Start, and community-based organizations, as well as some private institutions such as assisted living homes. Funded spots for 4-year-olds are available in 100% of the state’s districts. Oklahoma also offers funding for 3-year-olds through the Oklahoma Early Childhood Program (OECP). Oklahoma is 2nd (after Washington, DC) in national access rankings for 4-year-olds according to the National Institute for Early Education Research. Following a report from the Center for American Progress which showed that 55% of Oklahoma’s population lived in child care deserts, the Oklahoma State Department of Human Services announced the initiation of a Child Care Desert Startup Grant in 2022, meant to increase accessibility in areas of the state that lack sufficient quality care options.
National Institute for Early Education Research. (2023). Oklahoma.
Washington Monthly. (2022). Sooner the Better.
Oklahoma Human Services. (2022). Expanding the business community and growing capacity: Oklahoma Human Services announces Child Care Desert Startup Grants.
Connections to Key Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) Findings:
Learn More about ELS@H Findings
High-quality, affordable early education and care supports children’s healthy development and allows families to work, engage in their own educational pursuits, and/or participate in other aspects of community life. To support children and families in these instrumental ways, research suggests there is a need to expand the availability of early education opportunities across the mixed-delivery system.
Findings from the Early Learning Study at Harvard (ELS@H) show:
- Families rely on a range of formal (e.g., Head Start, center-based care, public pre-K) and more informal (e.g., home-based, relative care) early education settings; when choosing a setting for their child, families balance many logistical constraints and personal preferences.
- But for many families – and especially low- and middle-income families – early education choices remain tightly constrained due to issues of affordability and supply.