After a nationwide increase of $2.4 billion in child care funds, the state of Oklahoma received $32 million for supporting its children’s high-quality primary education. The funds were targeted chiefly towards helping children belonging to low-income, underprivileged families. That new flow of cash helped the state of Oklahoma move away from its infamously woeful and inadequate support for child care, and inch closer towards attaining a federally recommended child care support system.
However, as things stand, the state of Oklahoma is far from where it needs to be, especially as it pertains to child care support system. The congressional delegation from Oklahoma needs to work towards providing increased access to high quality child care to help the children, families and businesses of the state of Oklahoma.
Certain non-governmental organizations within the state have been working towards connecting Oklahomans with high-quality service providers so that the level of education among young children increases. The progress in that field has been positively significant as a result of increase in child care funds via the federal Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG).
According to the Center for American Progress, more than half of Oklahoma residents are forced to reside in a state where the availability of child care is far lower than needed. Oklahoma is “a child care desert” of sorts. The increased supply from the Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) went towards two parts of primary education. Firstly, it increased the payments of the people/institutions that were providing care for children from low income groups. Secondly, it also increased the amount of training and teacher support to enhance the quality of education that children receive in their primary school years. Both of these cases are important since studies have shown that the time of a child’s life between birth to the age of five years is the most critical for the development of the brain. The work of early childhood educators are an extremely critical aspect of child care support.
Currently, Oklahoma’s payment rates have improved to a state where parents can choose from over 70 percent of the child care providers of the state. Additionally, providers have also made improvements such as purchasing new materials and paying educators who work with kids during their early childhood.
This has really helped keep these (generally) small businesses running and provide a lot of help to local families in Oklahoma. The child care also allows the parents to stay in the workforce without quitting their jobs to care for the child. The Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) has also increased the number of families eligible for child care support.
Enhanced and increasingly available teacher trainings have helped early childhood educators be better at their jobs, which in turn has had a profound positive impact on the lives of the children of Oklahoma. Certain state contractors for the Department of Human Services have multiple well-staffed regional offices. They provide thorough and intensive onsite technical assistance for providers and supporting programs such as the Oklahoma Right Start Infant Toddler Project. Such projects focus on providing individual/one-on-one training sessions for the teachers who work with infants and toddlers. Such programs increase the quality of these daily interactions.
While all of the things discussed above do signify a positive change to the child support in Oklahoma , a lot more needs to be done. The state of Oklahoma should aim to at least be on par with the federal regulations governing the provider payment rates. A larger chunk of the state’s population needs to move out of the “child care desert” and receive access to high levels of child care. It’s also important to ensure that Oklahoma’s children receive the best possible education during the time that they are the most impressionable.
A boost of about $2.4 billion to the CCDBG will allow the organizations working within the state of Oklahoma to do just that. The state’s representatives in the Congress can lead the charge for the welfare of all of Oklahoma’s children.