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Oklahoma completed a state economic impact report in 2004. The project was a collaboration between the Oklahoma Department of Human Services Child Care Division and the Oklahoma State University College of Business Administration. The intent of the report was to provide an economic argument for ECE investments for legislators, businesses leaders, and others who had not previously recognized the importance and impact of early education. The report was released at a State held press conference with good media coverage.
Using Economic Messages
Oklahoma has been recognized at the national level for its preschool program and efforts to ensure access to pre-kindergarten for all four-year olds. ECE has been included and discussed as both a workforce and school readiness issue and linked to the growing drop-out problem in the state. Today there is increasing support for expanding access and quality of ECE programs for all children. Efforts are being pursued to move on multiple fronts with business, government, universities, workforce development, and parents to help make forward strides in early education.
Boosting the Economic Power of Early Care and Education: Key Highlights
In March 2006, Tulsa Metro Chamber, Smart Start Oklahoma and the Committee for Economic Development hosted a luncheon for more than 400 business, academic and policy leaders. George Kaiser was the keynote speaker at this event. The focus of his message was on the economic impact of ECE programs and return on these investments for Oklahoma.
State and Legislative Actions
In 1998, Oklahoma’s Early Childhood four-year old program was expanded to serve all four-year olds. Programs are run under the Department of Education and are open to all four-year old children in participating school districts. Public schools districts are collaborating with private childcare centers and Head Start programs for services.