In the last decade, the number of children in Oklahoma increased by 4 percent to almost 930,000. By contrast, the adult population grew 10 percent to 2.82 million.
Oklahoma was among 27 states that had increases in their child populations.
Among children in Oklahoma, the growth was uneven across the state. The child population grew in 36 counties and fell in 41 counties.
The child populations in Canadian, McClain, Marshall, Logan and Wagoner counties all grew by more than 20 percent. It fell by more than 20 percent in Tillman, Grant and Cimarron counties.
Since 2000, the number of Hispanic children (of any race) grew by more than 62,000, or 89 percent.
At the same time, the number of children of two or more races grew by almost 27,000, or 49 percent, and the number of Asian children increased by 4,400, or 41 percent.
The number of American Indian children grew by more than 6,300, or 7 percent.
To contrast that, the state's population of white children fell by nearly 57,000, or 10 percent, during the last decade. The number of black children fell by more than 6,700, or 8 percent.
In his report, Frey said similar shifts are happening across the country.
“Slower growth among whites owes in part to their lower fertility rate — about 1.9 births per white woman, compared with 3.0 births per Hispanic woman — as well as a relatively low contribution to population growth from immigration,” he wrote.
Child advocates said the demographic shifts among children have policy implications in Oklahoma.
“If we want a progressive, educated and healthy workforce, we have to look at the demographics within our state and assure that we have the needs to move forward to where we want Oklahoma to be,” said Linda Terrell, executive director of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy.
Terrell said one of the biggest needs is educational support for bilingual programs. She cited a recent case of a woman in Cleveland County whose daughter had been treated for chronic earaches. Once a translator became involved, it turned out the woman wasn't following medicine instructions.
“Once we got that language barrier taken care of, the baby was better,” Terrell said. “That's just one kind of extra supports we need to make sure our children are cared for properly.”
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BY THE NUMBERS
Note: White is non-Hispanic whites. Hispanics can be of any race and are counted under the minority categories.