OKLAHOMA CITY – The Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy (OICA), in partnership with the Annie E. Casey Foundation, today released the Oklahoma KIDS COUNT profile measuring child well-being in Oklahoma. Oklahoma now ranks 37th among U.S. states for overall child well-being, up from 39th one year ago. The ranking is based on scores in four categories: Economic Well-being, Education, Health, and Family and Community.
Of those four categories, Oklahoma ranked the strongest in Economic Well-being, at 29th in the nation. Key indicators include the percentage of children living in poverty (22%), which had improved slightly from 2015, and children whose parents lack secure employment (30%).
Oklahoma’s weakest category was Education, at 42nd in the nation. High rates of young children not in school (57%), fourth graders not proficient in reading (67%), eighth graders not proficient in math (77%), and high school students not graduating on time (21%) all contributed to Oklahoma’s low ranking. Despite lagging behind other states, however, Oklahoma actually saw improvement in those education categories in this recent report.
OICA CEO Joe Dorman said the rankings paint a mixed picture for children in Oklahoma.
“Oklahoma is a great state and we are a proud state,” said Dorman. “Thirty-seventh in the country isn’t good enough when it comes to making sure our children are safe, healthy and well-educated. At the same time, it is notable and encouraging to see that we continue to improve.”
Dorman said he would actively work with legislators in 2017 to continue to build on Oklahoma’s forward momentum.
“It’s a great time to build on the incremental gains we have made on behalf of children, but our challenging state budget outlook leaves us vulnerable to backsliding,” said Dorman. “We need our lawmakers to fight for better access to health care for kids, more economic opportunity, great schools, and stronger communities and families. A tough budget scenario is not an excuse to reverse course or slash essential services at the expense of Oklahoma children.”
Dorman gave thanks to the staff of the Oklahoma Institute for Child Advocacy, and especially KIDS COUNT Director Lani Habrock, for spending many hours preparing this document, as well as Sonic for their sponsorship of this research project. He said OICA will be releasing additional city, county and tribal nation data in the coming weeks. OICA will also provide an online tracking tool for citizens to monitor legislation affecting children, as well as a list of child well-being public policy priorities.
Download the full Oklahoma KIDS COUNT data book – http://oica.org/kid-count-data-center/data-book/