Make Way For Babies: Oklahoma Rapidly Expanding Investment In Birth To Three Early Care And Education
Sep 18, 2007
A state that has received kudos for its universal 4-year-old pre-kindergarten program is rapidly expanding a pilot program that increased the number of children birth to three in low-income families experiencing care meeting high quality program standards. The initiative is designed to expand access to Early Head Start programs and to improve the quality of other community-based child care programs that serve infants and toddlers. The George Kaiser Family Foundation helped start the pilot in 2006 by offering a 2 to 1 match of private donations if the state put up $5 million in general revenue. Another recent increase brings the total public dollar investment to $10 million and the total to $25 million. The first year of the pilot reached 888 children, and allowed federal Early Head Start grantees to add additional children, extend the day of Early Head Start services they provide, and enhance quality. Some community-based child care programs also received funding and technical assistance to meet federal Early Head Start Program Performance Standards and additional state requirements. State requirements for programs include: having a B.A. teacher for every two classrooms with a salary equivalent to the public school system, staff training specific to infant and toddler care, and working toward NAEYC accreditation. The state Department of Education awarded a contract to the Community Action Project of Tulsa County (CAP) to administer the pilot, and CAP has subcontracted with Smart Start Oklahoma to assist with monitoring and tracking pilot implementation.