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Oklahoma

Our lead ally in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness, seeks to provide better opportunities to the children and families in the state by engaging businesses and the public in supporting and investing in early childhood. They work to coordinate an early childhood system focused on strengthening families and school readiness for all children.

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2023 State Early Childhood Policy Environment and Progress

State early childhood policy progress is dependent both on the state’s policy environment and the numerous efforts — by those listed on this page and many others — who worked both independently and collaboratively to achieve wins for young children.

Early Childhood Landscape:

Research shows that family economic security is foundational to children’s overall wellbeing. Research also shows that widespread disparities in opportunity (especially by race) drive wide disparities in outcomes. States with policies that offer strong support to young children and their families are more likely to see 1) declining numbers of children in low-income households and 2) low racial disparity among those children. 

Young Children in Low-Income Households: Declining

Approximately 50% (220,000) of the state’s children 0-8 live in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level (2021). This number represents a decrease from 51% (241,000) in 2016.1

Racial Disparity Among Young Children Living in Low-Income Households: High

Black, Hispanic/Latino, and/or Native children aged 0-8 are significantly more likely to be living in households below 200% of the Federal Poverty Level than are Asian and non-Hispanic White children.2

Advocacy Landscape:

State General Fund Appropriations: Growing 

On May 26, the Oklahoma House and Senate approved the general appropriations budget bill for fiscal 2024 and sent it to the governor for approval. On June 2, the bill became law without the governor’s signature. The total budget, which includes the general appropriations bill and other smaller bills, authorizes $12.59 billion in spending, an increase of $1.6 billion, or 15.0 percent, over fiscal 2023. Certified general fund revenue expenditures total $7.5 billion which is a 9.5 percent increase from fiscal 2023. Total revenues for fiscal 2024 are projected at $13.26 billion, an increase of $628 million, or 5 percent, over fiscal 2023. The current balance of the Rainy Day Fund is $1.3 billion.3

Largest FY 2021 Per Capita Revenue Sources (after federal transfers):4

    • Charges: $1,544 per capita
    • Sales Taxes: $1,432 per capita

Charges are public payments connected with a specific government service, such as tuition paid to a state university, payments to a public hospital, or highway tolls. Oklahoma uses all major state and local taxes. 

Political Alignment: Aligned Republican

During the 2023 session, the state’s Senate and House were both Republican controlled. The state’s Governor was also a Republican.5

Types of Common Ballot Measures Available:6  Five

    • Legislature-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – A constitutional amendment that appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated Constitutional Amendments – An amendment to a state’s constitution that comes about through the initiative process.
    • Legislature-Initiated State Statues – Appears on a state’s ballot as a ballot measure because the state legislature in that state voted to put it before the voters.
    • Voter-Initiated State Statutes – Earns a spot on the ballot when sponsors collect signatures according to the laws governing the initiative process in Oklahoma.
    • Veto Referenda – When citizens of Oklahoma disagree with a statute or legislative bill enacted by the state legislature, they can collect signatures to force the issue to a vote. If enough signatures are collected, the bill is placed on the statewide ballot.

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Organizations Include:

National Conference of State Legislatures Early Childhood

Early Childhood Policy Advocacy Multi-State Initiatives Include:7

2023 Policy Progress:

During the 2023 legislative session, Oklahoma made progress with several bills that offer additional support to children and their families. Advocates continue working to advance policies improvements and additional investments in early childhood.

Highlights from the state’s early childhood policy advocacy community include:8

Preemtion Law for Child Care Homes — Local governments cannot impose regulations on child care homes that exceed those imposed by Oklahoma Human Services.

SB1121 — Provides six weeks of paid maternity leave for full-time public school employees, including career techs, teachers at Dept. of Rehab Services, the Dept. of Corrections and the Office of Juvenile Affairs.

Expanded Pregnancy and Postpartum Coverage — Oklahoma increased the income threshold for pregnant mothers accessing care through Medicaid; 138% to 205%, as well as expanded the postpartum coverage from 60 days to 12 months. Increased income threshold will serve approximately 2,500 more women. Expansion of postpartum coverage will impact approximately 14,000 women.

HB1930 — In adoptions, the allowable amount for living expenses and transportation for birth mothers is increased from $1,000 to $3,500.

Oklahoma had a few early childhood bills vetoed by the governor, casualties of a contentious effort to pass a K-12 tax credit/voucher:

    • SB534 would have allowed children in the Family Support Program to live in families with incomes up to 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines ($69,090 for a family of three)
    • SB535 would have directed the Health Department to create a voluntary certificate for “community health worker” to serve as a liaison between health and social services in a community to help families access services, identify gaps in current resources and build capacity to meet the needs of the community

SB291 — This bill was included in the veto, but was passed through override by the Legislature. It includes child abuse in the list of offenses for which a victim may request a restraining order on behalf of a child.

Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness, in partnership with Oklahoma Human Services and early childhood advocates across the state, spent a lot of time talking about the needed $30M investment from the legislature to continue the $5/day per child increase child care providers received at the beginning of the pandemic. This fiscal investment was the life line many providers needed before CARES and ARPA dollars were able to get to their programs. Historically, Oklahoma legislature has only invested the minimum federal match to access CCDF. Oklahoma small business owners will need the $30M investment from the legislature in 2024.

SB 907 — This legislation created the Family Representation and Advocacy Act, which provides support for family representation and services for children and families going through the child welfare system. 

Ongoing Grantee Areas of Advocacy:

The Alliance’s lead grantee in Oklahoma, Oklahoma Partnership for School Readiness, is working to advance early childhood policies in several areas that align with the Alliance’s birth-through-eight policy framework

Early Care and Education

Preschool and Pre-K

Child Care

Child Care Workforce

Child and
Maternal Health

Early Intervention

Home Visiting

Maternal Health

Family
Supports

Family Economic Security

Paid Family and Medical Leave

 

Early Childhood Infratructure

Data Systems

Early Childhood Finance and Cost Modeling

Early Childhood Governance 

RECENT ADVOCACY SNAPSHOT:

NOTES:

1 Kids Count Data Center, Annie E. Casey Foundation, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, November, 2022 

2 National Center for Children in Poverty, Children Ages 0 to 8 Below 200 Percent Poverty, March 2023, NCCP analysis of ACS 1-Year Estimates – Public Use Microdata Sample 2021

3 National Association of State Budget Officers, Summaries of Fiscal Year 2024 Enacted Budgets, October 11, 2023.

4 Urban Institute, State Fiscal Briefs, July 2023

5 National Conference of State Legislatures, 2023 State & Legislative Partisan Composition, February 28, 2023.

6 Ballotpedia, Ballot Measures by State, Kids Count Data Center, retrieved May, 2023.

7 Alliance for Early Success, Multi-State Initiatives for Early Childhood Policy Advocacy, April, 2022.

8 Alliance for Early Success, State-Wide Advocacy Highlights Survey, April-August, 2023.  

More State Policy Data:

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More State Demographic Data:

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