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You made it possible

With the support, encouragement and hard work of OPSR Board members and designees, OPSR Foundation members, OPSR staff, state partners, community leaders, and parents from across the state, we have successfully submitted our needs assessment as required under OKFutures (also known as the Preschool Development Grant Birth Through Five).

Even better, the Administration for Children and Families has approved our needs assessment, such that we are one step closer to understanding the most critical needs in Oklahoma's early childhood system.

Prepared by the Urban Institute, this report is the first of several documents to create a comprehensive picture of where we are and where we need to go. As we move forward, additional companion documents will be completed on Oklahoma’s investments in early childhood, including an analysis of state policies that impact young children, a plan to integrate early childhood data systems, a cost of quality child care study, a strategic communication plan to increase family engagement and knowledge, and an early childhood system evaluation plan.

To stay up on OKFutures' latest developments, visit the OPSR website.

OPSR at collaborative convening

This past month, OPSR attended a state convening for recipients of the grant known as Project HOPE (Harnessing Opportunity for Positive, Equitable Early Childhood Development). In addition to Oklahoma, this event brought together grant recipients from Washington, Florida and New Jersey with the purpose to provide new strategies, resources and ideas to inform each state's plan to move forward their Project HOPE work.

OPSR received this grant funding in August 2018. Administered by Nemours Children's Health System and funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, this two-year project is focused on generating progress toward equitable health outcomes for young children and their families. You can read more about this grant here.

During the convening, OPSR heard a powerful presentation from Dwayne Wharton with The Food Trust about Philadelphia's sugary drink tax and his work on local policy change to improve health outcomes.

"If we don't empower communities to make changes for themselves and if we don't drive the energy and attention to policy then we are never going to make a lasting impact," said Wharton. "...Telling someone to eat healthy and be active might work with some, but the health impact isn't as effective. Through policy, we see that we can have a broader health impact so that we're also addressing socio-economic factors and give people the tools that they need to live healthy lives."

In addition, speakers from the Institute for Public Health Innovations, Vital Village Network and Altarum each provided OPSR with insight and inspiration for their future progress on Project HOPE.

We're so grateful to be a part of this initiative. Thank you for hosting us, Nemours!

OKFutures Moving Forward: 2019 Professional Development Conference


Join us, Saturday, Nov. 2, for a professional development opportunity set to be rich with content ranging in topics from brain development to teacher self-care.

Only $15, professionals can earn six hours of formal training through CECPD or six CEUs. In addition, all qualifying attendees will receive a $40 stipend.

So, what are you waiting for? Click here to register! And help use spread the word to those you think would be interested. Don't forget to share our parent promo code, PDPARENT19, so that parents can register for FREE!

Maximizing parent choice

Recently, OPSR and the Family and Community Engagement team met with Advocacy & Communication Solutions (ACS) for a second in-person strategy session to build out strategies that connect rural, vulnerable families with services and resources as well as how to better work with champions of Oklahoma's early childhood system.

Thus far, ACS has researched what messages, messengers and sources of information parents respond to best as they relate to early childhood development. For instance, in a recent survey, ACS found that parents' most trusted messengers on a child's development and learning are pediatricians/health care providers with 89 percent of respondents indicating they had some or a great deal of trust in these messengers. Messages with the most influence are positive and utlize themes around brain development and social-emotional skills. In addition, parents said they go to family and doctors as their source of information about early childhood.

Moreover, key findings of this research included feedback on quality as well. For example, when asked to assess the components of a quality early learning environment, the majority of Oklahoma parents responded that “developmentally appropriate curriculum, including arts, crafts, music, dance, etc.” is a top sign of quality. This came in close to “nurturing and safe environments,” which rated second. In contrast, the lowest-ranked response was “low staff turnover.”

As we continue our work with ACS, we look forward to sharing even more of what we've learned with our partners to make the biggest impact possible across the state. Next up, we'll refine core messages that reflect all of the above research and follow guidelines of best practices to help maximize parent choice.

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