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Survey: Half in Oklahoma use child care

By Cathy Spaulding / Muskogee Phoenix Published: December 28, 2008
Designating whether a county is in a standard or enhanced area is one of six factors the Oklahoma Department of Human Services uses to determine state rates paid to child care facilities.

''The department is always monitoring and assessing policies and procedures," said Beth Scott of the DHS office of communications. "We work with the Oklahoma Child Care Association and child care providers to keep the system quality at the highest levels."

DHS also determines child care rates by:

--A three-tier Star Status system based on quality indicators. The higher the star status, the higher the reimbursement.

--If care is given in a child care center, child care home or the child's own home.

--Ages of children served.

--Whether child care is offered full-time, part-time or both.

A study by the Oklahoma Child Care Resources and Referral Association showed that a little more than half of Oklahoma families of young children use some sort of child care while parents work.

And, children under age 6 tend to be in day care for as long as a full work week.

Association Executive Director Paula K. Koos said the survey is "one more tool to let communities know how valuable childcare is and to know how many children are spending time in child care."

The survey, released earlier this month, showed that more than half of those who use child care -- 55 percent -- said they cannot afford to stay home with their child. Also, 78 percent said they use child care because the parents work.

More than half -- 57 percent -- of the parents said they prefer to use someone they know when selecting child care; 46 percent said a safe and healthy environment was another important factor. Most respondents said they send their child to a relative or kindergarten; 30 percent use a child care center and 21 percent use a child care home.

The survey showed that Oklahoma children under 6 spend an average 39.5 hours a week with a caregiver or center.

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