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Oklahoma DHS report shows county-by-county service gap for preschool children

An Oklahoma DHS county-by-county analysis of young children at risk of academic failure shows quality child care services are in short supply in some of the counties where the needs are the greatest.
by Randy Ellis Modified: May 13, 2014 at 9:00 am •  Published: May 12, 2014

A DHS county-by-county analysis of children at risk of being academically unready for school shows quality child care services are in short supply in some of the counties where the needs are the greatest.

“The findings show stronger investments are needed in many counties to increase the availability of quality early education and child care,” said Leslie Blazer, DHS director of child care services. “Offsetting the impact of negative circumstances is critical not only to the state’s economic future, but also to the overall quality of life in Oklahoma.”

Harmon, Tillman, Texas, and Adair counties are the four Oklahoma counties where statistics indicate children under age 6 are at the greatest risk of being academically unprepared for school, according to the report released Monday by the Oklahoma Department of Human Services titled “Oklahoma School Readiness Reach-by-Risk Report 2014.”

The report identified children as being at risk of being unready for school based on a number of factors, including having a Hispanic background, being born to a mother with less than a high school diploma, being the child of migrant parents, living in poverty, being the child of single parents, having a teenage mother, being the victim of abuse or neglect, and being in foster care.

Harmon, Tillman, Texas and Adair counties were listed among the Oklahoma counties least prepared to deal with such challenges based on availability of services like early childhood education programs and child care centers that are highly rated by DHS.

“Across the state, child care providers with two- and three-star ratings, the highest possible, have only enough capacity to serve an estimated 48 percent of young children with working parents, with the largest gap between capacity and demand in high risk counties,” DHS said in a news release issued, along with the report.

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by Randy Ellis
Investigative Reporter
For the past 30 years, staff writer Randy Ellis has exposed public corruption and government mismanagement in news articles. Ellis has investigated problems in Oklahoma's higher education institutions and wrote stories that ultimately led to two...
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